By Douglas Okoro
Dr John Otu, lecturer at the Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (A-EFUNAI), in Ebonyi has harped on the need for sustainable human and infrastructural development in Ebonyi.
Otu, one-time Commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi, made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abakaliki.
The former commissioner commended the leap in development, arguing that the state had emerged from the ashes of underdevelopment, and now reckoned among the frontline states in terms of human and infrastructural development.
He noted that Ebonyi was lucky to be endowed with credible leaders as governors since its creation in 1996.
He explained that the policy thrusts of the leaders were centred on lifting the state and its people from poverty, illiteracy, disease, infrastructure deficit and backwardness.
He commanded the incumbent governor, Chief Dave Umahi for improving and sustaining the Ebonyi development vision, through his massive landmark infrastructure.
He nonetheless attributed the success story of Ebonyi to the foundation laid by the administration of Sen. Sam Egwu, the first civilian governor.
“If you go through what Ebonyi was before Egwu came on board, you will know that Ebonyi was a sheer dessert; nothing was here, it was derisively called ‘dust’ of the nation, and there was virtually no tarred road in the state.
” No pipe-borne water in the state and that accounted for the high incidences of guinea worm and cholera infestations in the state.
“And of course, successive governments in our older states where the various parts of Ebonyi belonged, marginalised us criminally so to speak, so much so that the people here in Ebonyi were like urchins, they were like layabouts, they didn’t know what education meant.
” Thank goodness that Ebonyi was created in 1996 and we had to look inwards and Ebonyi was also lucky to have former Gov. Sam Egwu as the first governor of the state.
“Because of his background as an intellectual and academic, he was able to know what was of primary importance to the state and so he tackled it head-on, on assumption of office,” Otu noted.
He extolled the achievements of the Egwu administration in education; housing, road construction, job creation and empowerment.
“Egwu’s administration operated on a kind of mass-oriented governance structure; look at the free and compulsory education which he declared two years into his administration and sustained throughout the administration.
“We could count the number of graduates from the state on inception at our fingertips; our teaching hospital then had only two consultants and the Ministry of Health had only nine doctors.
“So, each time we think about the achievements of the state, I ask, how did Ebonyi move from the backwoods to the frontline?” he added.
Otu congratulated former governors Egwu, Chief Martin Elechi and the current governor, Umahi for sustaining the chain of development in the state and called on future leaders to expand and sustain their efforts.
“As we mark 26 years of the creation of Ebonyi, I appeal that future leaders should expand and sustain the giant strides recorded in human and infrastructure developments,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Obike Ukoh