Chief Chaka Nweze is a former Executive Chairman of Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State and pioneer Secretary of APC in the state. In this interview with UCHENNA INYA, he says that Governor Dave Umahi has transformed the state contrary to his expectation
How do you see Ebonyi State under the administration of Governor Dave Umahi?
I will simply describe what is happening in Ebonyi now as magical. I boldly say that though I am not a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which Umahi belongs to but he has transformed the state even beyond the expectations of people like us in the opposition. So, I urge Nigerians to appreciate resourceful leaders who provide democratic dividends to the people despite party affiliations as Umahi has done.
Some people would be surprise that you a praising a governor, who was not elected on the platform of your party…
I am particularly awed by the level of infrastructural development in the state under. I battled with my conscience to express these feelings being a member of the opposition APC and a fiery Umahi critic but I am a man who goes with the dictates of my conscience. I was marveled at the level of infrastructural development witnessed in the state when I visited recently after a ‘long absence’ as my eyes saw what I never imagined to see.
What did you see that convinced you on the performance of Governor Umahi?
I never imagined to see more than four standard and world class flyovers completed on the main expressway in the state, the trans-Saharan Abakaliki-Enugu high way and others about to be completed on the same road.
These are the type of flyovers with full lighting systems that cannot be seen anywhere in the country. The most baffling thing is that it is clear to all that Ebonyi is among states that collect the least allocation from the Federal Government and one therefore wonders where the governor gets the money from.
This shows astute and prudent management of scarce resources.
Would you say that Ebonyi is now a model among states of the country?
That is the obvious truth that one can say. I did not use the headlamps of my vehicle when I toured Abakaliki at night because virtually every area had functional streetlights. I do not know anywhere in Nigeria where almost all the roads in the capital city have been reconstructed– majority on concrete.
The most astonishing aspect is the successful relocation of traders at the Abakpa Main Market, Abakaliki to the ‘newlook’ International Market. I passed the old site of the market and there was no single pin on the road as all the human, vehicular and otherwise obstructions have been cleared.
This seemed impossible in the past but this governor has made it possible. I have been involved in Ebonyi politics since its creation in 1996 and I know that preceding administrations tried to effect such relocation but were unsuccessful. I also visited the new government house building and simply described it as monumental. I feel these projects are borne out of the desire to leave a legacy for the people because the governor might not even enjoy them much before he leaves office.
Are these infrastructural strides restricted to Abakaliki alone?
No, I visited other towns and local government areas in the state and also saw wonders. Afikpo, the secondranked most developed town in the state for example has been turned into a mini capital with concrete roads everywhere.
The dualisation of the Abakaliki-Afikpo federal highway from that end has commenced and one wondered how the construction meandered the complex terrain of the hills and valleys of the area to achieve the extent of work presently recorded. I am not wondering much because the governor is a trained engineer. Onueke, which ranks next in development, has also been given a major face-lift with concrete roads, well-laid drainages and streetlights.
Numerous kilometres of roads have been constructed on concrete in all the 13 councils of the state and the people are benefitting immensely from this development. I do not know what to say of Ohaozara, where the governor and I hail from my, which has been turned a ‘small London.’
The state’s School of Nursing and Midwifery and College of Medicine being constructed in the area have helped in turning the area into what, we, the natives never imagined it will be.
Don’t you feel that your assessment of the present administration in the state might hurt your party, the APC, especially in the state?
As I said before, I battled with my conscience to say these things but as one who believes in the truth, I have no choice than to say them. Whatever I’ve said is the truth, just go to Ebonyi and you will see them. It does not matter whether you are from the PDP, APC or APGA and others before you like or appreciate them.
They are there and no sentiment can erode them.
hey are not projects constructed on the pages of newspapers or the television, radio and the social media.
So, the best option is to appreciate them. God even enjoined us to always appreciate and supports good things.
You surely appear bold in these assertions?
My assessment might ‘hurt’ the APC in the state but it is time Nigeria is salvaged with leaders and the led, saying the truth despite party affiliations.
One of the country’s major problems is ‘political bias,’ a situation where political parties and their members do not see anything good in a government which they do not control.
So, it is time Nigerians realize that despite the party in power, it is the people that matter and one day, leaders would return to them and give accounts of their stewardship.
Ebonyi people are benefitting immensely from these projects and despite being in the opposition, I stand for progress no matter the party such performing government belongs to.