By James Eze
The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, has ordered the arrest of a contractor for failing to execute a road project according to specifications after collecting N200 million mobilisation fee.
Mr. Umahi gave the order on Thursday at Okposi-Umuoghara while inspecting the Okposi-Umuoghara- Ebiaji road project in Ezza North Local Government Area of the state.
The governor also directed that an engineer with the state Ministry of Works, Solomon Eze, be suspended for two months for failing to carry out proper supervision of the project.
An angry Mr. Umahi told his ADC, Jonathan Bawada, to ensure that the two officials of the company who were on the ground be handed over to the police for prosecution.
He described the contracting firm,Tonando Nigeria Ltd., as deceitful and fraudulent, warning that he would not allow any contractor to play on the intelligence of the state government.
The state Commissioner for Works and Transport, Fidelis Nweze, said the company did less than two kilometres of earthwork with poor drainage.
He said the contractor was supposed to have achieved a minimum 40 per cent of the job, whereas “what we saw on ground was less than 10 per cent of the job.”
“We are not happy about it. And on that note, we have suspended the engineer supervising the job from the ministry for two months for not briefing the ministry and government accordingly.
“We will be approaching the court for justice,” Mr. Nweze said.
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The Ebonyi State Government has revved up its agricultural programme by allocating land to the members of the state executive council.
The event, which took place at Ezillo Government Farm in Ishielu Local Government Area is the first phase of Governor David Umahi’ a policy to involve every segment of the society in massive rice production.
The Commissioner for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Uchenna Orji, led the team comprising agric extension workers and officials of IFAD to carry out the exercise.
Orji, according to a statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Emma Anya, said 140 hectares of land were allocated to the exco members for the cultivation of rice under the Multi-Purpose Co-operative Society Limited in line with IFAD requirement for cooperative system and the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
The remaining 1,360 hectares were set aside for other cooperative societies and individuals that have already keyed into the policy through the IFAD and CBN-anchored borrowers’ programme.
Orji, who described the agric programme of the David Umahi administration as all inclusive, said tractors would be mobilised to the site immediately in line with the governor’s vision of massive rice production for commercial quantity.
He added: ” We do expect that through the Senior Special Assistant on rice production, Chief Itakpa Azobu, that latest by Monday, July 4,we will mobilise our tractors to come here.
“It is in line with governor’s vision that we should not only go into mechanisation of farming, we should go commercial. W are going to express that this 2016 farming season.”
In an interview ,the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Senator Emmanuel Onwe, said it was exco’s decision that any individual of mature age, whether government appointee or civil servant, must cultivate at least one or two hectares of land to boost agriculture in the state.
The Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, Ebonyi State University, Prof. Folusho David, commended the agricultural policy and called on government to continue the sensitisation of farmers in the area.
Other exco members who spoke, were the SSA to the governor on Rice Production; the Commissioner for Commerce and Industry, Mr.Obinna Nwachukwu, SSA on Infrastructure Development, Chief Ali Odefa; Commissioner for Education, Prof.John Eke, Commissioner for Justice, Augustine Nwankwagu.
They said exco was poised to demonstrate to the world that Ebonyi State was a rice producing state.
The Commissioner for Border Peace and Conflict Resolution, Mrs. Elizabeth Ogbaga, who spoke on behalf of the female exco members, said tomatoes production would be their major area of concern.
Meanwhile, the state government will next month launch a one-man, one-hectare scheme in its determined effort to make the state Nigeria’s number one rice producer.
Governor David Umahi made this known yesterday in Abakaliki during an agricultural summit for civil/public servants.
Umahi, at the well attended event, said his administration would guarantee loans from the federal government in order to encourage the civil and public servants to restore the state’s pride of place in the agricultural sector.
He said: “As a sovereign state, we must be prepared to continue to be a sovereign state. I am appealing to our civil servants to key into this programme.
“Government will give you soft loan. A loan that will come from the federation account. We will grantee it so that you will get it. In August we are going to do a launching of one-man, one -hectare in Ebonyi State.
The governor also told the gathering that his administration was determined to “empower over 1,000 of our youths and 1,000 of our women to go into agriculture and other semi-skilled business that would take off with soft loans.
He said his government was “planning to have six mega cities in Ebonyi State,” adding that any local government area that was able to provide 5,000 hectares of land would serve as the pilot ground.
According to Umahi, the world Bank and CBN had already indicated interest in the project which will also have irrigation facility.
The governor added: “We will put some social amenities there. We will put the rice husk power plant. We will put rice mill and buying centre. We are going to work with our consultant. When we met World Bank and discussed that with them, they said they are working in Kogi State. If the Ministry of Agriculture gives approval, they will include Ebonyi.”
He restated his government’s commitment to the welfare of workers and appealed to them to key into his vision of boosting the state’s economy through agriculture.
He added that four new buses with airconditioners had been purchased by his government to ease transportation of workers to the Centennary City. The city partly serves as the state’s new secretariat.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Agriculture, Orji, had said the government was tragetting 80,000 farmers to be involved in the agricultural revolution this year.
Jul 8 2016 | Posted in Agriculture
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By James Eze
A jail term of five years awaits anybody who practices female genital mutilation in Ebonyi State, the state government has warned.
The warning was handed out on Tuesday during the flag-off of the campaign against female genital mutilation in the state at the Women Development Centre, Abakaliki.
In her speech at the occasion, Governor Dave Umahi’s wife described female genital mutilation as a harmful traditional practice against womanhood, which must end.
“We can’t continue to live in dark ages at the detriment of our women in the name of female circumcision or genital mutilation,” she said.
“Our women have suffered a lot in this traditional harmful practices against them and we must stop it, we must wage serious war against the practice.
“A situation where women reproductive organs are butchered in the name cultural practices is no longer unacceptable.”
She noted that in Nigeria, Ebonyi ranks second after Osun State, with 74% prevalence rate of female genital mutilation.
Mrs. Umahi said that informed her decision to campaign against the practice through her pet project, Family Succour and Upliftment Programme.
Mrs. Umahi said she would soon approach the state house of Assembly to amend the law against the practice.
Earlier, the state Chief Judge, Alloy Nwankwo, who was represented on the occasion by Justice Destina Oko of Onueke High Court, said anyone caught practicing the act in the state will bag five years imprisonment with option of N2, 000 fine.
In his remarks, Governor Umahi said he will retrieve a law before the state House of Assembly against female genital mutilation which has not been passed and amend it to provide severe sanctions against violators.
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Jul 6 2016 | Posted in Health
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Ebonyi State Government has sought partnership with a Chinese firm, CAMC Engineering Company Ltd, in the area of power, agriculture,mining, manufacturing and health.
Governor David Umahi, while receiving a delegation from UNIDO and CAMCE at the Governor’s Lodge in Abakaliki on Wednesday, said “On the issue of power, hospital, mining, agriculture, industry we are very much interested.”
He specifically told the officials of the Chinese company led by the Director-General, Yu Tao, that his administration would be highly delighted if they could build a 10MW solar plant in the state.
“We will like if we can get like 5MW to 10MW solar plant to light up the streets in our towns. This is very important to us because we need to extend business hours and check crimes in the state,” the governor said.
Umahi,who described Chinese investors as very reliable and dependable, thanked the United Nations Industral Development Organisation for being another strong development partner assisting the state in various sectors like Rice mills,ICT and provision of medical solar lamps.
Adding that the Chinese are very prudent in management, he assured all intending investors of safety and conducive environment.
His words, “We find it very fascinating working with the Chinese because they are very serious-minded people. They are not extravagant. When I gave some bridges to some Chinese to build for us, they brought certain kinds of equipment . So people started texting me, asking ‘are these not multinational companies? Why is it that their equipment are not reflecting this?’
“I said to them wait for them to start work and see what they will produce. And so when they started, people, including some in government, began to wonder that a company that can do quality jobs like Julius Berger is in Ebonyi State.”
Umahi,who had earlier noted the giant strides of his administration particularly in the provision of electricity and street lights across the state, described Ebonyians as very honest and hardworking people.
He however told the team which was led to the meeting by the UNIDO Country Representative, Dr. Chuma Ezedinma and the Managing DIrector of UrbanTech Engineering Ltd, Kingsley Agha, that they needed to quickly tidy up all arrangements to enable them start work on the power, agriculture,mining, manufacturing and health sectors.
He added, “Let me mark it that the only bad behaviour we have is that we are very much in a hurry. We have no patience at all when it comes to development. We don’t want projects that will be on the table for six months before takeoff. We want to start moving as quickly as possible.”
Earlier, Ezedinma who introduced the delegation, said he was pleased with Governor Umahi’s efforts to develop the state. He mentioned the 5MW Rice Husk Power plant as one area the governor had consistently been on his neck to get started.
Also,Agha, who gave reasons for the visit, praised Engr. Umahi and Ezedinma for their desire to open up the South-East to the rest of the world. He asked Governor Umahi to visit the head office of CAMCE in China for a first hand information on the capacity and capability of the Chinese engineering giant.
Tao, after presenting a gift to the governor, had also explained that they were in Ebonyi to partner the state in the area of agriculture, mining, hospital and industry.
He described Ebonyi State as the best in the country in terms of security, judging from its peaceful disposition and conducive environment for investors.
He lauded governor Umahi for taking the state to a greater height through his development initiatives.
Jun 28 2016 | Posted in Energy
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By Benjamin Nworie
Bridging the communication gap between the government and the people is the strength of the current administration of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State.
Since the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi appointed Dr. Emmanuel Onwe as the commissioner for Information and State Orientation, two things have happened. One, the understanding of government with realtions to the people has changed significantly and two, the sector has recorded tremendous improvement, from what it used to be.
Sharing the philosophy of his principal, Onwe believes that if public money is used for public purpose, there’s the need for the public to be completely and adequately informed. It is also his belief that propaganda and lies do no good to the development of any state as well as the success of any administration.
This, ostensibly must have been the bond of commitment shown by the commissioner that, apart from the desperation of the people, especially the opposition parties to know what is happening in the state, the governor has not pushed him to propaganda fireworks.
Rather, Onwe has continued to put together documentaries, commentaries, media parleys on government achievements, policies and programmes. And from all indications, his uncommon approach to work may have endeared him closer to the governor than a majority of his colleagues.
Perhaps, with the ignoble lessons from the past administration, as regards low publicity and awareness creation on government policies and programmes, Governor Umahi, may have thought it wise to bring in a capable hand that would drive his transformation agenda without resort to propaganda.
To his credit, Onwe has changed the laxity in information management in the state. Government programmes and policies are now brought to the doorstep of the people. People have begun to feel the impact of government. Government is further brought closer to the people and they can now contribute effectively to issues of public interest through functional media networks.
However, it has also been advised that the governor should have a stake in the media works, even though he has a capable hand that always hits the airwaves in information dissemination, like Onwe by engaging in interactive sessions with media operators and town hall meetings with stakeholders to keep the public abreast of the happenings in his administration.
This was why the need for quarterly media chat initiated by the state council of Nigeria Union of Journalists appears a veritable platform for such use. If this tradition is adhered to, it is the belief of many that the governor may have succeeded in directly feelings oulse of the people without subjecting them to the antiquated and sometimes, ignoble demands of the suggestion boxes. These are some of the ideas of the Commissioner in bringing the governor closer to the people.
Though Umahi has the penchant for the best, Onwe’s appointment became most expedient, considering his role during the elections when he displayed not only articulated skills and strategies but sincerity in propagating his clamour for charter of equity and the inherent virtues of Umahi. Since his appointment, Onwe has not only shown that he is a media game changer, but also a reputable newspaper columnist, whose thoughts and contributions reverberate the political landscape of the state and country in general.
Onwe, unlike many politicians that scramble for juicy political positions has continued to render the needed service delivery to the people. He noted that he was faced with the challenge of rendering social services to his people and state, no matter the capacity.
Above all, the Ikwo-born is an ardent supporter of the need for greater transparency, sincerity and non-politically driven anti-corruption reforms in Nigeria. Apart from being a former member of the Nigerian Senate, Onwe is a lawyer, human rights activist, initiator and facilitator of Njiko Igbo Movement, a socio-political group for Igbo unity.
As an advocate of social justice and fair play, Onwe also played prominent role for power shift to the south. This was also why he parted ways with the former governor, Chief Martin Elechi, when Elechi’s perceived insincerity on power shift became obvious.
Immediately, Onwe backed out and maintained deaf ears to the political “concoction” of the former governor and his cohorts, when Edward Nkwegu was “conscripted” to contest governorship against the zoning arrangement and charter of equity.
Accepting to serve the state in such capacity has further demonstrated his love for service to state and humanity, even with his intimidating credentials. That was why it particularly piqued the governor during his first of appointments, the rejections of appointments by his appointees for one reason or the other. With his orientation, Onwe accepted the mantle of information management in the state to propagate the reality of the Umahi administration, and render selfless service to the state.
Many may not know or believe that Onwe is from Ebonyi State. He is among few elites that have carved a niche through dint of hard work. Onwe returned to Nigeria after a successful legal practice in the United States of America. He was first seen in political scene in 2007. Probably, that was when most people knew him for the first time.
However, his popularity blossomed in 2007 when he contested Ebonyi Central senatorial position under the Peoples Democratic Party. And because of the love and his intellectual dispositions, Onwe was able to secure the supports of the youths, who queued behind him as the needed change that Ebonyi must key into.
Though his duration was short-lived in the senate due to legal fireworks and pronouncement, his footprint is still indelible. His election suffered legal litigations for over three years until the Court of Appeal in Enugu, on July 16, 2010, upheld his appeal and declared that Onwe was duly elected candidate to represent Ebonyi Central, thereby ordering the Independent National Electoral Commission to issue him certificate of return. However, the Supreme Court in 2011 overturned Onwe’s victory.
Onwe ran again for senate in 2011 under the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), an election observers noted was clearly won by Onwe until INEC called off the election, citing the inadequacy of election materials. However, angered by the development, probably having sensed “manipulations” from the PDP candidate, Paulinus Igwe Nwagu, Onwe opted against participating in the rescheduled election a week after, and called for the annulment of the election.
Though Onwe’s prayers could not sail through, his popularity and impacts have placed him above his contemporaries.
In the senate, he was the first federal lawmaker from the state to declare to his constituency that there was no excuse for failure and not bringing dividends of democracy home due to the “juicy or flamboyant” nature of the National Assembly. With his short stay in the Senate, he was able to organize job summit for the youths where money and employment opportunities were offered to many unemployed graduates. He equally donated transformers to some of the communities in his zone.
In the past, lawmakers were seen to arm themselves with excuses that it was not part of their mandate or responsibility to award and execute projects and that was why it was difficult for them to execute most of the project needs of their constituents.
Born in Aguabata in Ikwo, Onwe received his early education at Our Lady of Fatima (later renamed the Community Primary School) in Ikwo and the Presbyterian Secondary School, Abakaliki in Anambra State.
Onwe studied law on a scholarship at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), where he earned his bachelor’s degree. After his graduation, he proceeded to the University College London, where he received his master’s degree in law and later his PhD in public international law from London University.
Trained as a barrister at the Inns of Court School of Law in London, Onwe was admitted to the Lincoln’s Inn Society in 1999 and called to the English Bar. While at the Inns of Court School of Law, Onwe received the Sir Thomas More Award. He later undertook his pupillage at Two Garden Court Chambers, Middle Temple, London.
Onwe has worked for many non-governmental organisations like the Y-Care International; Friends of the Earth and Amnesty International. At Y-Care International, he worked chiefly on mobilising and delivering relief materials for the victims of the Rwanda Genocide in 1995. At Amnesty International, he worked in the campaigns department and took a special interest in the organisation’s campaigns on issues such as the death penalty and in the 1991-1992 campaign against the Maoist guerrilla insurgent organisation Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) in Peru.
During this period, Onwe attended the historic World Conference on Human Rights in Vienna, Austria in June 1993. The conference gave rise to the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights. As a prelude to the conference, Onwe wrote an essay published in the New Internationalist in June 1993, which extolled the principle of universality and indivisibility over the concept of the cultural relativity and peculiarity of human rights.
Onwe was a founding member of the Civil Liberties Organisation’s United Kingdom Section alongside Dr. Amazu Anthony Asouzu. After joining the British Labour Party in 1992, he worked on the election campaigns of MPs Bernie Grant and Paul Boateng between 1992 and 2005. Both Grant and Baoteng were long-serving members in the British Parliament. Most interestingly, as an astute politician, Onwe believes in giving back to the givers of votes.
Perhaps, with the ignoble lessons from the past administration, as regards low publicity and awareness creation on government policies and programmes, Governor Umahi, may have thought it wise to bring in a capable hand that would drive his transformation agenda without resort to propaganda
May 3 2016 | Posted in Technology
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Enugu – The Deputy Senate President, Chief Ike Ekweremadu, says the National Assembly will not support the creation of grazing reserves anywhere in the country.
Addressing newsmen on Sunday after a meeting of the South East governors and stakeholders in Enugu, Ekweremadu said that there was no bill on the creation of grazing reserves before the National Assembly.
He, therefore, said that the purported bill for the creation of grazing reserves was a “hoax”, adding that the press should strive to stop such rumours.
“There is no such proposal or bill on the creation of grazing reserves either in the Senate or House of Representatives.
“Nobody is considering it; not even at the executive level. I do not think they are considering it but we will not support it even if it has been considered,” he said.
Ekweremadu said that the meeting was convened in reaction to the attack on the people of Uzo Uwani by suspected herdsmen.
He said that the meeting reviewed all that happened since then and thanked all stakeholders who had shown sympathy to victims of the attack.
On the absence of Imo and Anambra governors, Ekweremadu said: “The South East governors proposed to meet today to review these matters but regrettably, the message did not get to Imo and Anambra governors.
“So you can see mainly the PDP governors are here. So, they had to review the matter and more importantly, ensure that every governor will be in attendance in the next meeting.
“The meeting is rescheduled within the week where all the governors are expected to be in attendance,” he said.
Ekweremadu said that the meeting looked at a more regional approach to curbing the menace of the herdsmen so as to ensure that it did not happen again.
“We are looking at a concrete and more coordinated approach on how to protect our people from this carnage,” he said.
Also speaking, Gov. Dave Umahi of Ebonyi said that there was no disunity among governors in the South East zone.
Umahi said that the governors would take a cursory look at the federal budget, when signed into law, so as to ensure that the zone got what was due to it.
He said that the governors would ensure the rehabilitation of federal roads in the zone if such arrangements were captured in the budget.
“I am sure the Federal Government’s budget is not yet signed. So when it is signed, it will be the duty of all zones to start agitating for attention,” Umahi said.
Gov. Umahi, Gov Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State and Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia attended the meeting.
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By James Eze
Lassa fever has claimed one life in Ebonyi State, the governor, Dave Umahi, has confirmed.
The governor disclosed this during a town hall meeting with stakeholders on Monday, saying the victim was a student.
“Unfortunately we lost one student, a 26-year-old boy from Izzi,” said the governor.
Mr. Umahi directed that people living in the vicinity of the hostel where the victim died should be monitored to prevent the spread of the disease.
While urging residents to keep their environment clean, the governor advised residents to go for check-up if they have high fever, instead of resorting to self medication.
“It may be Lassa fever and if it is detected on time it can be treated, but if it advances, it may be difficult to save the person,” he said.
He thanked the federal government for donating virology equipments for testing of Lassa fever, which he said were currently under installation.
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Jan 27 2016 | Posted in Health
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