By Pascal Chibueze
Development is defined by many scholars but there is this distinct definition which clearly states the stages of development, sustainability and to a large extent transformation. The best definition so far coined for sustainable development is the one given by World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) which runs as the “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Since the world war, development has been synonymous with economic, social, and political change in the countries of Africa, Asia, Europe and America. These attributes of development have all been embedded in the present day Abakaliki the Ebonyi State capital.
My recent visit to the Salt of The Nation clearly shows that Abakaliki is unarguably the fastest growing city in Nigeria, nay Africa. There is no gainsaying the fact that Abakaliki now wears a newlook all thanks to the visionary leadership of the current governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Chief Engr. Dave Nwachi Umahi who is now known and seen all over Nigeria as Mr. Project owing to the infrastructural architectures he has put in place in the state. While other States of the federation are busy talking about infrastructural deficit and poor execution of projects, Abakaliki is boasting of mind-blowing and eye poping structures stupendously designed and executed. The panache and finesse in which these structures were carried out are overwhelmingly impressive.
A visit to the multiple flyovers leading to Ebonyi Shopping mall and Ecumenical Centre leading to Trans Saharan Highway to Cameroon through Ogoja and to Afikpo would give you the true picture of what Abakaliki has become. For you to appreciate these aforestated projects, you need to see the aeriel view of the shopping mall and the aerial view of the Ecumenical Centre which has the capacity of accommodating over 7000 worshippers. The recycling plant built and equipped by the government of Ebonyi state is ready for use. The government is now calling on investors to take over the plant under Public, Private Partnership (PPP).
Governor Dave Umahi has truly raised the bar of governance which other governors in Nigeria, especially those in Southeast may find extremely difficult to catch up. By my own asssement and with the indices on ground, Umahi has outperformed his contemporaries and he seems unrelenting. Little wonder Ebonyians who left the state in search of greener pastures are returning home in droves. They now have a working and viable state; a state they can be proud of. What distinguish the current governor of Ebonyi state from his counterparts in Nigeria is his quiet way of governing the state. He does his thing without resorting to media hype and unnecessary fanfare. Governor Dave Umahi delivers good governance without blowing his trumpet; he believes that his job will single him out by all those who understand the core essence of development.
Abakaliki is now a reference point and currently the most sought after city in Nigerian today. The nature of my job which has taken me to many states in Nigeria and my true knowledge of the old and new Abakaliki gave me the comparative advantage to discuss the present day Abakaliki having frequent the state from the neighbouring state, Enugu as an undergraduate in the early 2000s. Those who have been in Abakaliki before the coming of Governor Dave Umahi in the year 2015 would agreed with me that Abakaliki has moved from being a glorified village with bushy paths and poor access roads to a standard city with the prospect of becoming one of the most visited cities in Africa.
Abakaliki is gradually but steadily leaving other southeastern cities behind. The crop of visitors moving in and out of the city on daily basis portends only one thing, a working city. The security architecture is superb; people are moving in and out of the city without any form of harassment from street urchins, hoodlums and men of the underworld. My interactions with the residents of Abakaliki revealed that the reason for the low crime rate in the city was as a result of the governor’s massive empowerment programmes scattered all over the state.
According to them, the hitherto jobless youths have been exposed to one form of skill acquisition to another. Judging from their looks I need no soothsayer to tell me that life in Abakaliki is truly good. I learnt that the governor on assuming office swiftly engaged all the major stakeholders in the state on how best to get the state working. Today, Abakaliki is not just working but has been adjudged by many as the emerging hub of Nigeria. Governor Dave Umahi has placed Abakaliki on surefooted pedestal of irreversible developmental agenda. Ebonyi state is poised to fully deploy her potentials as the ultimate destination of choice for investments and habitation.
My stay in Abakaliki was fun-filled. The hospitality accorded me starting from the very first day I entered the city down to the hotel where I stayed and to the day I left the city was to say the least memorable and worthwhile. I can’t wait to visit the Ai city again.