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Ebonyi at 24 and Nigeria at 60: The journey so far

Ebonyi Governor Dave Umahi

By Timothy Nwakpa, Abakaliki

The aphorism that age is in numbers cannot always be mentioned without the consequent assessment of what is supposed to be obtainable at every stage of development in all the spheres of life of such a being.

President Buhari

Ebonyi state was created 24 years ago by General Sani Abacha to heal the people of the long era of marginalization from the old Anambra and Enugu states. It is on this premise that like Professor Seer did in his definition of development we ask, what is happening to Ebonyi in the educational and human capital development, agricultural, infrastructural, housing, welfare and the likes to be able to know how she has fared over the years. With the creation of the state and the antecedent appointment of Captain Walter Feghabour as the pioneer military administrator, the state was set in motion for onward daily assessment to meeting the needs that the state was created for. The initial clearing and setting up of the government and its operational agencies by the pioneer administration gave way to the pioneer executive democratic administration under the leadership of Sam Ominyi Egwu who toed the line of the pioneer administration in lifting he vale of educational backwardness through the institution of all the paraphernalia’s that led to the recognition of the Ebonyi State University from a university college to the status of a full blown accredited state university. The feat was a no mean one as this led to making Ebonyi one of the academic destinations in Nigeria with its developmental accompaniments. This led to the improvement in the human capital development alongside the administrations Hi-Pact programme to train Ebonyians in oversee institutions to make for continued availability of specialized manpower for the institution to continue to run. This can be seen to be in a little comparison with the pre independence Nigeria when education could be seen to be delivering its best ibn Ebonyi State.
The College of Education was set up by the administration too to surge the whooping demands of teachers and assist in meeting up the demands of meeting the education target of National Certificate of Education, NCE as the minimum educational qualification of a teacher as demanded by the National Education policy framework. Just like in this sector, every other sector received boost in the journey of the development of the state.
Martin Elechi took over from the administration and continued with the dictates of the past reigns improving on already established foundation that within the time under the review the state has unprecedented linkages between the urban and the rural communities through the unity bridges construction programme of the administration. Educational and human development, agricultural and other sectoral developments galloped in this administration sacrosanct to the growing young state.
Of special note is the modification of the Hi-Pact programme of the former administration through the scholarship board to find focus on science, mathematics, and technology in the sponsorship of Ebonyians to foreign scholarships. The welfare of pensioners took center stage in this administration as retirees took receipt of their entitlements next morning after retirement. This led to the increased interest in education and its ancillary results of longevity of life of these retirees.
These attributes characterized the continued development of the young state seeming to comply with the dictates of the normal child have right development in all spheres of its life at every developmental age and stage. Rural health and rural roads also enjoyed boost consequential with the stage and age of development of Ebonyi State under the administration as well as high boost in agriculture which manifested in the construction and establishment of three gigantic modern rice mill industrial clusters one in each of the three senatorial zones of the state an art seen to be sacrosanct and Ebonyi State being on the rise in terms of the age and necessity of development which is highly humanistic and centered on the growth and development of the people of the state.
Ebonyi at 24, David Umahi is on the saddle as the leader and executive governor of the state. There have been myriad of multi-billion gigantic structures which have been built with the state resources like the State Ecumenical Centre constructed at over N13 billion cost, litany of crossing bridges christened flyovers scattered in all the nooks and crannies of federal highways in Ebonyi State, shopping mall, Cargo Airport construction, amidst others which have no bearing on the life and economic development of the state. Can Ebonyi be seen to have fared well and on the part of development with these conduit pipes against the foundation laid by the past administrations to continue to improve the state economy and ensure steady development such that at a full adult age the state would have been viable and a major hub for investment interest. With the consequent near collapse of the only citadel of learning owned by the state government, the Ebonyi State University, which once was the bride of all who sought education in the entire country making Abakaliki an education destination in the most recent past almost at its knees with the non-payment of staff for over six months and inability of the management to run the school because of the inability of the government to meet up with its quota of subvention needed for the smooth running of this amazon of growth and development. Would Ebonyi be seen as having met up with the expectations of the people of the age at which the state is?
It is duly expected that at 24, a youth of such magnitude should have been graduating if in school and consolidating on the real stands that will put him/her in an auto pilot driven life with less stress of execution of esthetic and other ornamental systems which is as a result of purely developed finance and revenue structure put in place to drive growth and development. Life is riddled with hardship in Ebonyi at 24 with obnoxious taxes making it unable for medium, micro and small enterprises to thrive making the state the third poorest state according to the latest report of bureau of statistics published in the most recent past.
At 24, there should be steady rise in the economic fortunes through the establishment of major and minor industries which will propel the economy and create employment for the massive teaming population of unemployed youth population suffice to say that Ebony State at 24 parades the largest army of unemployed graduate population in the entire country, no wonder the report of the bureau of statistics has caught the state at the stage it is as the third poorest state in the country in its report. It is very key to note that the at 24, Ebonyi lost the only building material industry at Ezzamgbo after its last functional stage under the Elechi administration, could this be seen as a good omen for the state at 24 considering the enormous building material raw materials that are abound in Ebonyi State.
Again, at 24 Ebonyi is parading the largest army of unemployed trained manpower from mainly its state university and the state college of education alongside other federal institutions brewing manpower in the state. This has led to high rate of poverty as the funds borrowed by lowliest homes to train their wards have to be paid off with these graduates making Okada and Keke riding a means of livelihood if you cannot run with the politicians which have converted a lot of them to touts and thugs doing all kinds of dirty political jobs. For the first time since the last administration not even a single teacher has been employed into the primary and secondary schools while there is massive retirement of the old and high death rate amongst the civil servants due to bad conditions of service. In this instance, can Ebonyi said to have fared well at 24? Suffice it to say that a few kilometers of concrete pave roads have been done to few routes leading to cronies’ homes, the people are seen in the proverbial king’s men that rot in hunger.
Like Ebonyi, like Nigeria. The pre independence Nigeria was seen as a very healthy society that had standard in all spheres of life for its citizens. At 60, if an adult has not retired voluntarily from active service he should be retiring finally. Can this be said of Nigeria as a nation or is it still applying for job as an individual. The pre independence Nigeria had boasted of running an agro based economy which was able to able to support its foreign earnings and develop the rails but can that be said of today in the oil based post-independence economy. Where has the groundnut pyramids gone to, where has our cocoa disappeared to and where did our palm oil and its ancillary by products sink in? To assert the right answers will be the need to start a revisit of the time past and leave a new framework which will return us to agriculture in full mechanized form to enable us delete the current situations of unemployment and hardship faced in all spheres of life of the Nigerian people.
At 60, it is a time of critical reassessment, return to normalcy and reposition of the country where Nigerians will be proud to identify with instead of clamour to go different ways.

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