If Nigeria receives attention or media spotlights, they are usually the undesirable type, and when it does get praise and recognition, it focuses on things that happen in and around Lagos or Abuja. The rest of the country is an afterthought unless something special is going on.
Something special is going on in Ebonyi State. Ebonyi, once near the bottom rung in most economic metrics is now a rising star among the Nigerian states and no longer the butt of jokes; instead, Ebonyi has flown smoothly under the radar for several years getting its house in order.
But now there is no hiding or disguising the remarkable stories that are unfolding within her 5,533 sq km. We will delve into the progress in infrastructure, real estate development, and strategic planning, and reveal the secret to Ebonyi’s success.
Not yet 24 years old, Ebonyi is one of the more recent states created by General Sani Abacha in 1996. Located in southeast Nigeria, the small state is rich in natural resources and human capital, but it has only been within the past 5-6 years that Ebonyi has gone through a dramatic transformation.
Once known for decrepit infrastructure, impassable roads, poor health systems, and inadequate power supply – things are different now in Ebonyi. This can be attributed to the leadership and vision of Governor David Umahi, who has spearheaded Ebonyi’s surge to the forefront and leaderboard among the 36 states in our federation.
The governor who is an engineer by trade has utilized the hardworking spirit and work ethic of the 2 million-plus Ebonyi people and the resources from its rich landscape and has turned this state around in less than five years.
Driving through Abakaliki today looks strikingly different from a mere 3-4 years ago. At the city centre you are welcomed with a beautiful roundabout that is flanked by green spaces, brilliant colored lights, spouting water fountains, and a seemingly organized flow. It looks like you could be in any major western city, the attention to detail is apparent, and security forces are close by. The bridge/flyovers are spectacular at night with their flashing light show.
- Road Network – Several roads have been redone and improved in the last few years, and have been engineered with concrete 8 inches thick, and claim to have a lifespan of 50 years or more.
- International Airport – The airport is currently underway near the city of Onueke Ezza and is slated to be complete in 2021, and will be a modern prototype of top class standards. Currently, the closest airport is in Enugu, but with the creation of this new airport will expand business opportunities regionally and internationally.
- Ebonyi State Olympic Stadium – Started in 2019, the stadium is on a fast track to completion and will provide world-class sporting amenities and employment for thousands of locals. It will be a flagship facility that will be a source of pride for the citizens.
- Ebonyi Mall – When complete, this mall will be the largest in West Africa and will be a modern shopping center that will create scores of jobs and opportunities for entrepreneurs.
These are a few of the projects underway in Ebonyi, but several more projects will add to the development of the region, such as the extensive waste and recycling plant, international market, teaching hospitals, schools, and the lovely Muhammadu Buhari glass tunnel that lights up the night sky. Abakaliki also boasts 14 new flyovers (overpass) that strategically help to ease congestion and create an efficient road system.
What is Ebonyi’s Secret?
It is important to call out great leadership when it is present, and Ebonyi is lucky to have a governor who cares and takes an active roll in the development and transformation of the state. We are quick to blame poor leadership and corruption, so we also must be ready to give credit when it is due.
The state is also blessed with an abundance of natural resources including limestone, granite, lead, zinc, and gypsum, it also leads Nigeria in the production of many crops such as rice, yams, maize, and salt/brine.
When the governor assumed office in 2015, one of his first orders of business was to declare a state of emergency in the agricultural sector and made it a duty for each citizen to farm, on top of their other means of employment. He also mechanized farming to improve efficiency and helped establish a rice mill, which produces some of the best rice in the country according to many.
Bold leadership and long term vision have helped propel Ebonyi to the forefront and have left many others trying to catch up. Empowering your citizens, making them feel prideful and with a sense of ownership in their success is vital in winning their hearts and minds, and in speaking with several residents along the way, their sense of pride is immediately evident. Their eyes light up and they begin to spew praise on the governor and list all of the awesome projects that have been completed or that are underway.
Of course, Ebonyi has its share of issues, as does every other state in Nigeria. But with staunch leadership and a community that has bought into the “real” hype, the struggles and obstacles that are in the way, can be overcome. We hope that when it is time for Umahi to leave his post, the vision, and momentum that he helped create, will continue.
Check out the aerial footage in the video below from Eboh Media – this brother is doing some amazing work and this clip shows a great perspective of the beautiful city. Be sure to check out and support Eboh Media!