What is your message to Nigerian youths as the world celebrated International Youth Day a few days back amidst the need to build the capacity of youths to be change agents in transforming the nation?
The time has come for government at all levels to boldly integrate the youths into the mainstream of politics in governance because youth are the future leaders tomorrow.
I must say that right from the military era down to the democratic era, youth have not been effectively integrated into the Nigerian mainstream politics and the problem we have today is agitations here there in different zones. There are indications that as a matter of urgency, there is a need to integrate our youth and women into politics.
There must be a deliberate policy to address this. There must be vocational training for our men to make sure that they have legitimate means of livelihood because if they’re not exposed to legitimate means of livelihood, definitely they would be counterproductive in the society.
We have to commend President Muhammadu Buhari for coming up with so many programs under the Social Investment programme and the CBN Investment programme too. In Ebonyi State, the governor is one of the most friendly in the history of this country. He captured the issue of women and youths empowerment in the blueprint of his administration and that is why he rolls out empowerment programmes periodically for these women. We have the Youth Women Empowerment, Diaspora Skills Empowerment amongst others and this is strictly for skills acquisition.
There is also a farming programme for the widows and civil servants worth about N30 billion. This is easily accessible and the payment module is quite flexible .
In Ebonyi State, we do emphasize on what we call second address system – a scheme for civil servants at all levels of government in the state which is supposed to be alternative in the area of agriculture whether primary, secondary or tertiary and that is where they have support and also something to fall back on after they bow out from civil service.
What is your opinion on the zoning of the 2023 presidency to the South East?
Although zoning is done by political parties, not individuals, it will be fair to zone the presidential ticket to the Southeast to heal the scars of the civil war which all of us are guilty of.
Nigeria was divided into three regions from 1945 to 1966 (the Northern, Western and Eastern regions) before the Mid- Western Region (present Edo and Delta States) were created from Western Region in 1963).
It was the basis upon which the independence of Nigeria was negotiated by Nigerian nationalists with the British colonialists. So every region should be carried along.
However, in doing that you look at equity and justice, party constitution, and the need for fairness to carry everybody along and I believe there is going to be fair play if South East is given the opportunity to produce the next president in 2023.
And I must say this will not be achieved by violence or agitations, but by permutation and mindful utterances. It is by negotiations and also dialogue with people in a roundtable discussion.
With the right moves I believe that the southeast would be given the opportunity to produce the next president.
The last time South East was there was during the pre-Republican administration, I think that the southeast has not been given a fair opportunity to become president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
How would you rate the performance of Ebonyi State under the leadership of Governor Umahi?
The Governor is an extraordinary leader who deploys passion in the service to his people.
I can say he is a man that comes once in the playbook and anytime he does, people should take advantage of him. If you had been to Ebonyi State before 2015 and you come to the State today, you would appreciate a man who has done so much by transforming the state to one of the megacities in Nigeria. He deserves to be called a world class leader because of his track record of excellence.
When he was a party chairman of a political party, he built a party secretariat that stands out to his credit today.
He became the first governor without the support of his principal and today we have unprecedented development in the state.
The state has one of the most exquisite shopping malls – the biggest in Africa, highest flyover when compared to Abuja and Lagos, etc and this is what made me feel he is an extraordinary leader.
Before the governor came on board, we had an infrastructure deficit in Ebonyi State and human capital was very low.
But today we celebrate a state with a wonderful road network with 50 years guarantee!The state is now a global village. We have completed over 1,500 state roads, over 500 kilometres of federal road built by the Ebonyi state governor. We have completed 13 flyovers, he has also built wonderful roundabout to beautify the capital city and we are building long-lasting economic facilities
Today the state has one of Africa’s biggest shopping malls that will house 5,000 shops, we have Southeast biggest International market built by our governor which will house 3,000 to 5000 shops. We are also building an international airport.
This airport will be like that of Abuja and Lagos. It is now 60 per cent completed, we also have Africa’s biggest School of Medicine, a very beautiful edifice for the treatment of cancer and heart surgery.
This will avert medical tourism abroad and the governor feels the money taken to India and UK will go back to the state. It will create 10,000 jobs, the governor is also ensuring that insecurity is a thing of the past by construction of street lights.
Every local government has 20 kilometers street lights that functions for 12 hours, we have also built an Economic Centre for conferences. If you visit Ebonyi in 2015 and now you will understand that he is doing a great job and transforming the state.