Preamble: While I voyaged round the litany of projects that now adorn the geographical landscape of Ebonyi, I ruminated extensively and seemed to vividly capture Pratibha Patil’s state of mind when he stated that -“corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large must come together to achieve this national objective.”
Gov. Dave Umahi and Narendra Modi, an Indian politician appear to belong to the same school of political thought and class of exemplary public servants.
Modi, stated that “Good governance with good intentions is the hallmark of our government. Implementation with integrity is our core passion”, Gov. Umahi walked the talk. He displayed the practical aspect of Modi’s proposition and many sees it as a magic wand transforming Ebonyi.
Going through what Governor Umahi has achieved within a period of six years as chief servant of Ebonyi State has reignited and further strengthened my believe that Nigeria is truly blessed with selfless patriots.
If a Governor could change the fortunes of a State like Ebonyi, better known for its backwardness in every sphere of statehood, to a State that now stands as the most advancing State in Africa, then that Governor must be a wonder worker.
The Level of Educational Decay Inherited by Gov. Umahi
Prior to his assumption of office in May, 29th, 2015 as the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, education in the state was flat on its back, beaten into a prostrate position with no hope at sight. Pupils and students resorted to hawking in some busy roads in the state capital and many other State Capitals and major towns in Nigeria as the stench of the rot in the system stink to high heavens, overwhelming even the sweetest deodorants.
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Where one managed to find a functional school, the structure would be dilapidated and students/pupils had no option but to manage under trees with untrained and poorly equipped teachers.
In assuming office the first thing Gov. Umahi did was to declare a State of emergency in the educational sector and reawakened the spirit of education versed in the minds of every Igboman.
He committed millions of naira to motivate the youths to leave street trading into going back to school. Today, Ebonyi youths are no longer in any street of any town in Nigeria hawking any sort of item.
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Throwing more light on this, Hon. Dr. Odo Stephen Idenyi, PhD, the Honourable Commissioner, Ministry of Human Capital Development, while presenting a paper he titled, “Celebrating The Man Behind the Transformatory Story of Ebonyi State stated, ” crafted from a purportedly uncivilized, timid and under-developed location in the East, Ebonyi State and Ebonyians were widely associated with decadence, primitivism, retrogression and under-development from her creation in 1996.
The denigrating degree at which we were despised and disdained even by our immediate neighbours and the country at large was pitiably heartbreaking.
These realities posed a question of how to, not only develop the State’s human capital but also rebrand the image of the State through massive developments in basic infrastructure, lay a blueprint for a vibrant economy, establish a people-oriented style of leadership and bring the State to the fore of iconic standard for national development.
Past administrations made their efforts within the limits of their capacity and innovation until 2015. It was obvious that we needed a brave leadership that would practically revolutionize the status quo. For such a historic landmark to be realized, it needed an undaunted brave, focused, willed, astute and dogged leader. Until 2015, we were still regarded as ‘the dust of the nation’ and then the emergence of Engr. David Nweze Umahi FNSE FNATE, the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, an achiever and a proven captain of industry.
His Excellency inherited an ailing education sector, an incapacitated agricultural sector, decadent and obsolete infrastructure, a daunting rebuilding job in his hands and an economy that was begging for intervention…”
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Practical Steps and Strategies Adopted To Address the Rot in This Sector
- Reconstruction of the three Government Technical Colleges in Ebonyi State.
- Reduction of EBSU tuition fees.
- Payment of overseas scholarship allowances to scholarship student.
- Pupils evangelical guidance programme initiation.
- Remodeling and reconstruction of 10 Modern/Secondary Schools.
- Reconstruction of over 2000 classrooms blocks in schools across Ebonyi State.
- Establishment of fully-stocked and functional ICT departments in pilot schools.
- Introduction of white maker board.
- Upgrading and full accreditation of Ebonyi State College of Education Ikwo as a degree awarding institution affiliated to EBSU.
- Construction of Modern clinic at EBSU.
- Built and equipped World Standard school of nursing in Uburu.
- Ebonyi State University teaching hospital and faculty of medicine, Uburu
Ebonyi State University Community General Hospital Uburu.
Ebonyi State as a Home to Prominent Schools
Ebonyi State is a home to six prominent Higher Institutions of Learning: Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki (EBSU), Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu Alike Ikwo (AE-FUNAI), Akanu Ibiam Federal Polytechnic, Unwana (AIFPU), Federal College of Agriculture, Ishiagu, Ebonyi State College of Education Ikwo (EBSCOEI) and College of Health Sciences, Ezzamgbo.
In 2021, another ultra-model tertiary institution, the King David University of Medical Science, Uburu, Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State, was inaugurated by His Excellency, Engr. David Umahi FNSE FNATE.
The Results of Umahi’s Investment in Education – Taking Ebonyi State to the Zenith of Education in Nigeria
The NECO Registrar/Chief Executive officer, Prof. Dantani Ibrahim Wushishi, while on a courtesy call on Governor Umahi disclosed that Ebonyi State recorded the highest enrolment in the 2021 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), popularly known as Senior WAEC, throughout the country.
The NECO boss also highlighted the impressive performance of candidates in the state in the BECE over a period of time and commended the Governor for his support and assistance to the Council, adding that Umahi’s tremendous efforts in the education sector has made the commendable statistics possible.
According to Wushishi’s analysis, a total number of 1,371; 1,549; 1,494; 1,494; and 21,272 candidates sat for BECE from 2017 to 2021 respectively.
Out of the number, 755, 889, 700, 745 and 9,143, representing 55.06, 57.39, 46.85, 49.86 and 42.98 per cent respectively, obtained five credits and above, including English and Mathematics.
The analysis further revealed that 79.02, 82.96, 77.75, 80.82 and 84.36 per cent respectively of those who sat for the Internal NECO Senior secondary Certificate in Ebonyi State also scored five credits and above from 2017 to 2021.
Wushishi further stated: “Your Excellency, our visit today is to thank you immensely for the support and assistance you have rendered to the Council.
“This is a mark of your commitment to the educational upliftment of the state.
“It is evident that in the whole of the South East, it was only in Ebonyi State that our examinations were not disrupted during the nationwide EndSARS protest in 2020.
“Also, as a result of your tremendous effort and involvement, Ebonyi State presented the highest number of candidates for this year’s BECE not just in the South East but in the whole Country, with 22,011 candidates.
“All these became possible because of the understanding and harmonious working relationship between your state and NECO.
“This goes to show that a lot can be achieved when people of like minds that have mutual respect for one another meet for the common good of all.
“That informed the decision of the Council to grant waiver on BECE Accreditation to all Public Schools, to enable them present candidates for the examination.
“The Council also created a BECE marking centre in Ebonyi State in order to give opportunity to teachers to improve their skills.
“We believe this (analysis) will help in policy formulation and execution with a view to improving the overall output of all stakeholders.”
Wushishi further assured Umahi of the readiness of the Council to partner with him in all areas that would promote the overall development of Ebonyi children, adding that such was in consonance with the Council’s core value: Redefining the future of the Nigerian Child through quality assessment.
He solicited for the Governor’s assistance in the completion of their ongoing office project in the state.
He added: “The Council has a giant project here in Abakaliki that is about 90 per cent completion.
“The Council is seeking Your Excellency’s assistance to complete the project.
“All the necessary architectural requirements for its completion will be presented to you here.
“Sir, it is the decision of the Board and Management of the Council to name the office after your Excellency, and also relocate the Zonal Office of NECO from Enugu to Abakaliki, once the project is completed by your Excellency.”
Responding, Governor Umahi assured the team of his readiness to partner with the Council to achieve the best education delivery to the citizens of the state.
Presentation of the 2022 Budget and the Position of Education
While presenting the 2022 Budget to the Ebonyi State House of Assembly on 1st December 2021, Governor Umahi highlighted that,
A breakdown shows that education, works and infrastructural development for concession ministries got the highest chunk of the budget.
The Education ministry is to gulp N24,397,399, 015.78 covering 16.78 percent of the budget.
While the Ministry of Infrastructural Development for Concession is to get N17, 498,56,922.44 covering 12.03percent, the Ministry of Works and Transport is projected to get N24, 335, 057, 558.09 which is 16.74 percent of the budget.
The Ministry of Agriculture is to get N3,425,238,354.88 which is 2.38 percent of the 2022 budget sum.
Umahi noted that the state government has profiled 200 youths and women from each local government area to access the N3bn #EndSARS empowerment programme from January, 2022.
The Climax of the Educational Revolution in Ebonyi State
The climax of the educational revolution in Ebonyi State ignited by Governor was the idea to end foreign health tourism and unveiling a world class medical University with concerted advantages of a high-tech project with a sophisticated blend of contemporary health and modern education.
The new Medical College in Ebonyi – the David Nweze Umahi University of Medical Sciences; a centre of excellence in cancer management, kidney transplant with dialysis centre, liver transplant, and other diseases management and treatment facilities. It had the latest diagnostic equipment that can be rated amongst the best anywhere in the world. The technology to be employed is equally second to none.
The centre is manned by the best hands anywhere in the world and the structures are classical”. The diagnostic equipment came directly from the manufacturers and are ready for use. It’s going to be a centre of medical tourism and attain the international status of such a big institution, power supply will be 24hours as it would have power from solar, generator and national grid.
The vision behind the establishment of David Nweze Umahi University of Medical Sciences according to Chief Emma Obasi, the Principal Secretary to Governor Umahi, is to halt and reverse medical tourism abroad; halt and reverse capital flight due to medical treatment and management of high calibre diseases; provision of access to ultramodern medical equipment and personnel and to expose our medical students to the best training facilities available in the world.
The Medical University is to house the best Medical College comprising Faculties and Departments in all Medical and Allied Medical disciplines and best Teaching cum Specialist Hospital comprising about 5-6 Centres of Excellence in Medicare.
The University rated as the best Medical University and Centre of Excellence in Medicare in entire Africa, has commenced operations with the production of some scarce sensitive hospital necessities.
The Unusual Feats of the Medical University:
Within few months of the take off the University it has established a feat of becoming the first University in Nigeria to commence the building of Oxygen Production Plant
According to the Vice Chancellor of King David University of Medical Science Uburu Ebonyi State Professor Jessy Uneke, the institution has commenced the building of Oxygen Production Plant to stem the dearth of the product in hospitals and schools in the country.
In a related development, the University has commenced 2021/2022 admission of Students in all 17 Programmes recognized and approved by the National University Commission /NUC.
Professor Uneke further disclosed that the University was the first to start 17 Number of Courses at the same time in Nigeria and was using Ph.D Holders to start the University.
There are additional Four Courses that the institution would equally commence in no distant time.
Dialysis Production Plant is being constructed, between December 2021 and January 2022, it will be finished, in dialysis there is a special kind of consumables called Dializer for Liver and Kidney Transplant.
Professor Uneke outlined the 17 Programmes in the University to include Medicine and Surgery, Pharmacy, Nursing Science, Medical Laboratory Science, Physiotherapy. Biometric Engineering, Optometey, Radiography and Radiation Science, Computer Science, Industrial Physics, Industrial Chemistry, Biology and Biotechnology, Dentistry, Micro-Biology, Parasitology, Public Health and Human Nutrition/Dietetics.
The University Don emphasized that the Ebonyi State Executive Council has approved that all 1st Class Graduates of English and other related Disciplines be engaged to teach in pre-degree Courses of the institution while the minimum academic teaching qualification for lecturers in Ph.D Degrees.
Professor Uneke said that the University was formally recognized by the National University Commission /NUC on 7th July 2021
When the NUC came for Resource Verification and after assessing the resources we have the privilege that 20 of our 20 Departments presented were all approved
20 of the Departments were running 17 Programmes, we also have all the 17 Programmes approved.
The University has Special Centers including Cancer Centers. kidney, Eye Centers, Sports, “we want to provide conducive learning environment.” The academic Don added.
He disclosed that he was appointed the Vice Chancellor of the institution on 1st June 2021
Professor Uneke commended the Visitor of the University and Governor of Ebonyi State David Umahi for his support that facilitated its recognition.
The Varsity has admitted 1,500.
Not Satisfied With All That He Has Done to Advance the Educational Sector; Umahi Is Still Seeking Approval for Two Extra Universities in Ebonyi State:
In a statement issued by Mr. Francis Nwaze the SA on Media to Governor Umahi, he stated, “The Governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Umahi, in his avowed commitment to transform Ebonyi State and place it on the world map, on Tuesday, visited the Headquarters of National University Commission, FCT, Abuja to seek the approval of two specialized universities in Ebonyi State.
The Governor is of the firm belief that the new Universities – Aeronautic Engineering and ICT, Science and Technology will not only add to the ongoing speedy development of Ebonyi State but will equally develop Ebonyians, Nigerians, and beyond as well as contribute to the Internally Generated Revenue of the state which will, in turn, be used for the further development of the state.
The new Aeronautics Engineering University shall be sited beside the ongoing International Airport, Ezza South, while the University of ICT, Science and Technology shall be sited in Izzi Local Government Area.
Governor Umahi handed over the application for the universities approval to the Commission’s Executive Secretary, Prof. Abubakar Rasheed in his office and it is expected that the commission will study it and get back to the state government as soon as possible.
Umahi And His Vision For Ebonyi Educational Advancement
“And to announce that the supplementary appropriation bill has been passed by the House of Assembly and signed into law, and to announce that Public procurement bill has been signed into law, the amended law of Ebonyi State University.
I want to vow that I am going to reposition the University before I bow out, I will put that University in an International standard, I have started with the solar lights and generators and water there, in all the campuses of Ebonyi State University and tertiary institutions in the State, we have light twenty-four hours and water twenty-four hours, we have started internal concrete roads for EBSU and we will not stop until we conclude all the Internal roads, after that, we go into sporting activities and we do visitation panel, we will get the quality of teaching and learning to the highest standard in this country and you know when we say we will do, through God that strengthens us we have always done.
Let me conclude this treatise with this assertion by Barr. Uchenna Orji, the Honourable Commissioner for Information, “In the area of education, Ebonyi before 2015 was educationally less privileged. Today, the governor has launched us into the comity of the best 10 states in the federation in education. In 2017, NUC made an education analysis about the local governments in the whole federation with the highest number of people getting admission into university. A local government in Ebonyi State came first. In the same year, NUC made an assessment of medical students that took JAMB and somebody that came from Ebonyi came first in the whole federation. In the area of education, we have done quite a lot. An Ebonyi student can compete fantastically well with any other person from other states.
Eze Chukwuemeka Eze is a Media Consultant based in Port Harcourt.