What is your opinion on the stance of the southern governors on the ban on open grazing?
The stance of the southern governors on open grazing is not out of place, but my take is that the reaction we are getting is not unexpected. We should not to continue the blame game but have a meeting point or a dialogue to have a consensus on the issue. And it should be admitted that the farmers’ herders/clashes have been contributory to insecurity and the lack of confidence we are having amongst ourselves. This will of course trigger conversation across various zones. We must do this bearing in mind that the unity of our nation is non-negotiable amidst efforts to continue to build a nation where there is love, peace, and equity.
The issue of open grazing is no longer tenable in advanced countries in the world. But what is important is that we must appreciate the fact that we have lived with traditional herdsmen for a long time and we have no issues with them, but it is becoming glaring that the coming of foreign herdsmen aggravated the situation.
Amidst the increasing cases of arson on public facilities in the southeast what can be done to salvage the situation?
Every man and woman of goodwill who believes in one Nigeria is not happy with these developments – that is extremism and it is not needed. In these agitations, stakeholders must rise and speak against the destruction of public and private facilities and even lives, we need to speak up. Like every other zone, if you look fundamentally at the remote causes in the southeast, you will see that there is the agitation of marginalization, bad leadership over the years, so all these issues have led to distraught in the nation over the years between government, the people and different tribes.
The issue of marginalization must be addressed to restore confidence. It must be known that the crisis in the southeast has been hijacked by hoodlums and those fanning the embers of hate and division from different parts of the world via sending fake news through inciting publications against the government.
As stakeholders that have Nigeria’s project at heart, we must rise and speak to our people. We must call a spade a spade, no matter whose ox is gored.
We don’t believe in name-calling like IPOB or Fulani but identifying the criminal elements and ensuring that they face the full wrath of law.
What is the stance of the Ebonyi State government on constitution review?
The government of Ebonyi State has inaugurated a 19-man committee to speak on the review of the 1999 Constitution. Fortunately, I am part of the committee headed by the Speaker of the Ebonyi State House of Assembly. When they are done, they will send it to the National Assembly. It will soon start and I know that it will be the position of all Ebonyians.
Ebonyi State seems to be doing well in agriculture. Tell us about it.
The administration of Engr David Umahi places premium and attaches importance to agriculture. The governor inherited peasant farming, but when he came on board, he introduced mechanised agricultural practices and a commercialization programme. He introduced the One Man One Hectare Programme, he introduced Civil Servant Agricultural Programme called Second Address, he also procured more rice milling plants. Prior to now, Ebonyi State had a history of being a state with the highest milling cluster and it is the Guinness Book of Record, but the governor understands that the state has advantages in rice production and reactivated the over 1500 milling clusters and procured more rice milling and parboiling plants. Today we have 32 metric tonnes capacity per hour for the rice milling plant while parboiling plant 38 metric tonnes capacity per hour all government-owned milling plant.The government procured 40 tractors and gave the farmers for free. The state government also procured 13 bulldozers which was donated one per local government to flatten the landscape for agriculture mechanization.
Why did Governor Umahi defect to the APC?
As a progressive who is also democratic, we should look at the need for us to the mainstream with the party at the centre. In order for us to have equal opportunity in the southeast to make known our agitation and tap into the opportunities at the federal level. The fact is every governor is taking this decision based on conviction. I believe that the Governor of Cross River State has his reason. For us in Ebonyi State,we did this to mainstream with the party at the centre. If you look at the 1960 post political development, Ndigbo had always mainstreamed with the party at the centre and that is the ideology Sir (Dr) Nnamdi Azikwe bequeathed to the southeast.
Tell us about other projects carried out by the State government?
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 a 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 mall, it will house 5,000 shops, we have Southeast biggest International market built by our governor, it 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% completed, we also have Africa’s Biggest School of Medicine, a very beautiful edifice, for the treatment of cancer, 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 in each local government.