Gov Nwifuru’s Administrative Style and The Something New

The creation of Ebonyi state on 1st October, 1996 by the then Military Head of State – General Sani Abacha engendered great expectations from Ebonyians who had endured criminal marginalization from the old eastern region for many years.

Its creation from the old Enugu and Abia states threw up the onerous challenge of addressing many competing needs in the area of human capital development, infrastructure, social amenities, education, health, industrialization, self dignity and indeed all other indices of development.

Fortunately, successive administrations in the state proved their mettle in one important development index or another. A dispassionate foray into the immense contributions of the previous administrations in the state would reveal the lucky streak the state had with her leaders.

Ebonyi was blessed with the first Military Administrator in the name of Navy Commander Walter Feghabor. He remarkably laid the foundation for the modernization of the Abakaliki capital city and equally posted modest achievements in the area of infrastructural and human capital development.

The next on the saddle of leadership in the state is a Police Commissioner, Simeon Oduoye. He made appreciable efforts in expanding the frontiers of human capital and infrastructural developments by addressing the housing needs and tackling the deficit infrastructural developments in the state.

Notably, the year 1999 ushered in a golden era of the return to democracy after many years of military interregnum. Thus, the first Executive Governor of Ebonyi state- His Excellency, Dr Sam Ominyi Egwu took up the gauntlet by confronting the immediate needs of Ebonyians at the time. He took the bull by the horn by revolutionizing the education sector in the state through the repositioning of Ebonyi State University, Abakaliki as one of the best universities in Nigeria; the establishment of Ebonyi State College of Education, Ikwo, and the College of Health Technology, Ezzangbo. He equally rolled out very impactful local and foreign scholarship schemes in the state tagged HIPACT. These bold steps positively laundered the battered image of the state which was perceived to be backward in education and infrastructural development bringing the acronym nwa abakaliki.

One of the foremost founding fathers of the state-Chief Martin Nwanchor Elechi was elected the 2nd Executive Governor of Ebonyi state in 2007. He had a clear vision to lead the state out of the woods. So, as expected, he envisioned the connection of Ebonyi rural communities to the state capital through his very important project of unity bridges and access roads. Another highpoint of his administration was the introduction of the attitudinal change mantra (the Ochudo time) as a guiding doctrine in the state’s rules of engagement.

The visionary leader -Chief Elechi equally conceptualized the the expansion of the capital city which according to him looked more like a municipal area council. He massively embarked on mega projects such as the Ochudo Centenary City, the International Market, the Oferekpe and Ukawu Water Schemes, the modern Rice Mill clusters among others. Although, he couldn’t complete these legacy projects, posterity will forever be kind to him for envisioning them.

The next leader on the saddle is Engr. Chief David Nweze Umahi who came on the platform of the Divine Mandate in 2015. A man of clear vision and resolute courage, he concentrated major on the development of infrastructures and the opening up of the capital city. He therefore leveraged on the solid foundation already laid by his predecessor to inaugurate some of the mega projects and initiate new ones. Some of his signature projects include the Ecumenical Centre, The Ebonyi Shopping Mall, the David Umahi University of Medical Sciences, Uburu, the innovative concrete road technology among others. Nevertheless, it’s widely held opinion that the welfare of the citizens were not prioritized during his administration. Notably, Governor Umahi launched Ebonyi state to become the Dubai of Africa through massive infrastructures including the beautiful flyover bridges across the thirteen council areas in the state. The audacious Umahi equally commenced the Abakaliki Ring Road projects among many others.

However, the major thrust of this article is to x-ray Governor Nwifuru’s administrative style and what he has done differently from the successive administrations as analyzed above.

First and foremost, the 4th Executive Governor of Ebonyi state who’s the immediate past Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly-Right Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru hinged his leadership template on the manifesto tagged: “The People’s Charter of Needs Agenda.” Having served closely with the past administration, he knew the critical needs of Ebonyians. He therefore set machinery in motion to actualize his vision anchored on human welfare and collaborative decision on the immediate needs of the people. Thus, he initiated a positive paradigm shift from his predecessors by striking a balance between infrastructural development and the pressing needs of Ebonyians in line with his People’s Charter of Needs agenda. The civil service reform took a centre stage in his administration. He approved a wage award of N10,000 monthly for the state workers and equally increased the retirement age of teachers from 60 years to 65 years. This is in addition to the N100, 000 Christmas package for all the state workers.

Owing to his penchant for quality service delivery, the Governor has commenced the asphalting of the concrete roads within the state capital. This bold step is aimed at enhancing the durability and to reduce the wears and tears on the tires. With this measure, the life span of the roads is estimated to be over 100 years. The asphalting is going on concurrently with the construction and reconstruction of virtually all the urban roads. In line with his promise, work has started at the Stadium to Rounder Nwofe on rigid concrete pavements.

In a bid to revive the state civil service, Governor Nwifuru approved the recruitment of 1454 Ebonyians into the state civil service in addition to the recruitment of 195 medical personnel to man the moribund health sector in the state. He subsequently gifted a brand new jeep to each of the medical doctors manning the thirteen general hospitals in the state. He afterwards approved additional N150, 000 to their salaries in order to dissuade the Japa syndrome and motivate them to be more committed in their jobs.

As if that was not enough, the Governor has cleared the areas of pensions and gratuity owed the state senior citizens from 1996 to 2022. The payment gulped a whooping N4 billion. He has further directed that payment of retirees entitlement shall be an annual ritual to be paid upon retirement. He urged the senior citizens to always proceed on pre-retirement leave to enable them process their benefits for immediate payment by the state government.

Considering the harrowing experiences of some Ebonyi hawkers across some major cities in Nigeria and its indignity, Governor Nwifuru approved the release of 3billion for the empowerment of 1500 Ebonyians in this regard. Heartwarmingly, the first batch kicked off with 500 Ebonyi hawkers receiving N2 million each.

In order to restore the dignity of our traditional institutions, the Governor gave express approval for the building of duplexes for all the traditional rulers in the state and the construction of two kilometer roads in their respective communities in addition to the release of funds to all the autonomous communities in the state to embark on any project of their choice.

In his avowed commitment to restore permanent peace in all troubled areas, the Governor has adopted dialogue and direct engagements with critical stakeholders. He equally constituted high powered committees to look into both the immediate and remote causes of the crisis while occasionally employing the carrot and stick approach to the problem. It’s expected that these steps will help to resolve the pockets of crisis in some of the communities in the state.

In consonance with his commitment to give everyone a sense of belonging and fair treatment, the Governor has commenced the construction of 140 housing units for the people of Izzo and Amaeze communities displaced by the Ezilo- Ezza communal. This is intended to resettle the war victims and bring everlasting peace in the area.

In conclusion, Governor Nwifuru has shown a clear vision of his policy director to improve the welfare of the people while attending to other sectors that equally require his interventions. Thus, the Governor has successfully incorporated all aspects of needs into his areas of focus – health, infrastructure, health, education, security among others. It’s trite to address the Governor as the Chief Servant of the state. He is a servant leader whose humility is second to none. He identifies with the high and low and personally takes up their needs. Thus, our amiable Governor places the interest of ordinary Nigerians above his own. He is a study in humility, industry, selfless service and uncommon commitment to quality delivery. We are invited to offer our fervent prayers and felicitations to our dear governor for him to do more for Ebonyi people.

Hon. Ike Cletus Ngah
SA, Internal Security (Ivo).

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