By: Philip Nweze
Governor Umahi is seen by many from different perspectives. While some see him as an ever smiling and easy going man, others see him as a tough and principled administrator with very rigid stance on issues pertaining to governance. Needless to say, his principled stand has earned him friends and foes alike. His belief is that there is no place for excuses, especially in assignments that would lead to public good. He believes that leadership is not a popularity contest but a call to duty.
Right from his first day at work, Governor Umahi has kept his eyes on the ball. Not once has he lost sight of his governmental calling or task. He possesses a world class brain and operates with the agility of a prized athlet. As a young guy filled with life, Umahi is an unrepentant workaholic. If anyone is under the impression that a visit with him to any of the many project sites scattered round the state is a jolly ride, after all one was with the governor, such an individual is in for a big disappointment. As a former member of the Governor’s press crew, I have experienced the constant “terror” of moving with the governor on his ceaseless pilgrimages to project sites day after day. The experiment was always tough on all of us, especially the radio and TV reporters in the crew, who wrestle daily with the problem of finding a spare time to squeeze in their reports, as the governor oscillates between one assignment and another, sometimes up till midnight, and continues the same process tomorrow.
From all indications, the governor has the grace of excellent health. He looks very energetic and carries his frame swiftly. He is a sucker for hard work. And it seems that the secret of his many achievements lie in hard work, hard work and more hard work. He works like a human dynamo. From one project site to another, he matches on; leading the charge and never panting, inspite of the movement’s energised pace. No one dares to drag. You would be left behind. He is relentlessly demanding of his employees’ time and commitment. He believes that every task should be done with every jolt of energy for outstanding result. He believes that hard work pays. And this is the story behind his consistent successes in the state.
Governor Umahi is known to always make things happen. The energetic and committed leader visits up to seven project sites in different locations within the morning hours, before he resumes in the office, and still inspects more before close of work daily. All the vehicles in the governor’s convoy have one unique thing in common and that is the availability of torchlights and umbrellas inside them, should his surveillance trips to project sites spill into the night or incase of sudden surprises by rainfall.
Today, Ebonyi is home to numerous construction projects. The governor has devoted more energy to project inspection than any leader in history. The present administration in the state will not execute a single contract without holistic and pragmatic monitoring. The governor traverses the entire state day and night to ensure all projects embarked upon by his administration will be executed to specifications and delivered on schedule. His approach to governance is a get-to-the bottom and pragmatic method unlike other constituted authorities in the country who after awarding contracts will go and relax, leaving the whole executing duties at the mercy of contractors. On assumption of office, he swung into action with construction of projects that seemed impossible in the state such as flyover, mega water schemes and streetlighting and within the shortest possible time in and history had them completed.
The secret of avalanche of on-going developmental projects across the state now, despite the economic recession in the country, is hard work and commitment on the part of our governor who is “walking” round the clock to ensure quick and best delivery of all the projects. This has helped flush out the era of shoddy jobs, inflated contracts, overdrafting of invoices, and award of contracts to relatives, which were the underlying cause for quick collapse of roads and other public infrastructure in the past. It was funny that road constructed by an administration before now do not last the period of that administration. The ministry of works turned into a major centre of fraud and corruption and yet, the then state governor seemed to have lacked the constitutional teeth to probe into the debacle, due to fear of offending certain interests.
Governor Umahi’s ruthless approach to governance today has enthroned a new order. To him, governance is serious business and one only for serious minds. Unlike other states where exco members converge once a week in plush government house annexes for few minutes deliberation and fat allowances, the state executive council meeting in Ebonyi state starts on Monday and drags through Friday, often stretching into the wee hours of the night, on a daily basis. He understands that this is a period when citizens look up to their governments in exasperation and disappointment. He therefore believes that executive council members must be available any day and time as his first front line of defense and tools for his rescue mission. By this he has instilled a strong work ethic in them, the typical umahi-style type. By this they have become more positively attuned to the demands of governance.
One other thing that has been glaring since he took over is that the governor has also ensured that the state duties do not affect his spiritual life. He still attends the evening classes and prayer meetings that hold at the Christ Embassy church, at Mile 50, Abakaliki and still return to his office late to continue work. His typical Sunday mornings commence with attending of church service together with his wife Mrs Rachel Umahi, and every available member of his family and still returns to his office in the afternoon to continue work. His healthy appetite to work is unbeatable. His energy is matchless and his leadership style is first class. A role model, a reference point and a mega star, he is simply an “idol” for present and future generations. Call him a human machine. And you would not be wrong.
Governor. David Umahi is working. Ebonyi State is on the rise.