Thursday, 1 July 2021

Ebube Agu Has Come To Stay In Ebonyi ... Orji




Ebonyi State Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Hon.Barr. Orji  Uchenna Orji, in this interview speaks on governance in the state; security and the South-East security outfit, Ebube Agu as well as thnts of the Governor David Umahi’s administration


 *What is the state of the South-East security outfit in Ebonyi State against the backdrop of the resignation of its committee chairman, Major General Abel Umahi (rtd)?* 


There was a meeting in Owerri, the Imo State capital, where it was agreed that a security outfit to be known as Ebube Agu would be established for the South-East but you know very well that the South-East is made up of federating states, so there is no singular head working for the entire zone. What the governors do is to have regular meetings, share ideas on collaborations and intelligence. Then, each state will go back to implement agreements reached at the zonal level.



 

That was exactly what happened in the case of Ebube Agu, and the Governor of Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, being the chairman of South-East Governors Forum, had to take the bull by the horns by coming home and immediately setting up Ebube Agu Security outfit in the state. Of course, legislations have been made. You will recall that before that time, the governors have resolved that the respective Houses of Assembly to enact laws to make way for a common security outfit to be known as Ebube Agu.


You do know that there is no way that the entire South-East as a geopolitical zone will have a common legislation on the matter; it is the affair of each of the individual states. So, that was done, a legislation was put in place in Ebonyi State and the governor went ahead to do the recruitment by interfacing with the town union leaders, religious leaders, opinion molders, public office holders and other stakeholders for them to make nominations on the membership of the security outfit.


So, Ebube Agu has come to stay in Ebonyi State and government has said that it will continue to provide the necessary support to the outfit, which is there to provide intelligence to the relevant security agencies to ensure that crimes and criminalities are reduced in the state.



 

Again, the governor has fortified the security architecture of the state by enhancing what we call the security server that was installed to watch over the entire metropolis further to the rural communities. The good story today is that the security agencies in conjunction with Ebube Agu have continued with great success to track and crack criminals within the state. Just last week, nine AK47 riffles were recovered and they were confirmed to be those stolen by criminal elements. So, Ebube is working because of the way and manner the governor is showing passion and commitment.


 *Given that Ebube Agu has not taken off in the other states of the South-East, is not advisable that Governor Umahi looks at collaborating with his colleagues because Ebonyi does not exist in isolation as what happens in the other states will in one way other affect your state?* 


The governors have continued to meet. They met about two weeks ago in Enugu to review the Owerri accord, and I am sure the governors of the other states are doing something in that regard. What is important is that the law will be the same, operational measures will be the same. They will have the latitude to work across the entire states of the South-East without any hindrance based on the law. These are the cooperation points, and intelligence is being provided centrally. The committee is working at the zonal level to provide intelligence.


The idea is about how to further enhance security of the zone. Though there will be individual differences among the governors and the states, what is more important is the step being taken to ensure the security of lives and property of the people of the South- East. You can see that the situation in the zone is getting calm and that shows that the governors are doing something in the various states.


 *How about the issue of funding of Ebube Agu; what level of commitment has the states shown?* 


Funding is actually one of the issues that are bringing about the differences because the operation or otherwise of the security outfit in the respective states depends on the commitment of each of the governors. There is no way funds can be pulled from the individual states to the centre. Funds may be pulled to support the central committee but not that one governor would be dishing out funds and be paying members of Ebube Agu in all the states. It is practically impossible in a federal system of government because under the constitution we have, no individual state is superior to the other.



 

 *What is the level of collaboration between the police and Ebube Agu in Ebonyi State?* 


It has been wonderful. It is like the difference between essence and existence. I can say that the state government does the recruitment, while the training is done by the conventional security agencies; the police and Department of State Services (DSS). Again, the security agencies determine operational modalities for Ebube Agu at the local, zonal and state levels. Everybody knows the structures and powers of Ebube Agu at these levels. So, Ebube Agu is more of working to get intelligence for the conventional security agencies.


 *What is the strength of Ebube Agu in Ebonyi State at the moment?* 


The governor is looking at 4,000 but we’ve just started with 200 per local government and 100 at the state level. So, we have 1,400 at the moment but recruitment will continue until we have about 4,000 personnel. Don’t forget that we still have our local vigilant groups in each of the 140 autonomous communities in the state.


 *Two years to go, what is the Umahi administration doing to ensure that it completes the various projects that are ongoing?* 


It is like talking about six years after, which has been promising and rewarding. Two years to go, the governor is thinking about completing all the projects that he initiated. Do not forget that so many have already been completed but the governor does not believe that it is all about commissioning of projects but ensuring that dividends of democracy are made available to people. The governor has done 1,500 kilometres of state road and 500 kilometres of federal road. He has done the light tunnel, the biggest in Africa; he has done the shopping mall that is the biggest in Africa; he has done the international market that is the biggest in South-East. The Ebonyi International Airport is about 60 per cent completed and the governor believes that an aircraft will land at the airport before the end of this year.


The governor has also promised that the stadium would be completed before he bows out in2023. Don’t forget that we have 13 flyovers and out of the number, eight have been completed. The remaining ones that are under construction will also be completed. We need to appreciate the importance flyovers in any town. In the next 50 years, we will not have the problem of traffic, where investors will go to because the environment has been properly designated.


We see a situation that Ebonyi State will be the economic hub of the South-East. The next thing the governor has said he is going to do from 2020 is aggressive human capital development. Human capital development will be given the fullest attention. That is empowerment; training and retraining of our civil servants and business people, including our artisans and craftsmen through the vocational college that we have, giving them certification and taking them out of the streets as well giving them financial empowerment. There is also financial empowerment that would be given to our teeming women and youths in the area of agriculture and entrepreneurship.



 

 *In the area of employment, the College of Medicine that I failed to mention earlier is going to trigger more than 10,000 jobs. The shopping mall is also going to provide more than 10,000 direct and direct jobs. These are things that will bring economic development. And what is the difference between economic development and economic growth?*


 It is when individuals in the state have something to do to fend for themselves and be self-reliant and self-sufficient. When there is less emphasis on white-collar jobs and emphasis on green-collar jobs is the time you can you can say that a state or society has attained a high level of economic development.


That is the attainment the governor wants to have for Ebonyi State before he bows out in 2023. And I think that the efforts of the governor have started yielding positive results as we can see from the recent report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and the state-by-state assessment of economic impact by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which say that Ebonyi State has the lowest debt profile among the states of the South-East and the highest prudence level in the area of management of resources.


In the area of job creation and empowerment, the same NBS said that Ebonyi State empowerment and job creation initiative is the second best in the South-East. A World Bank report on state-by-state health index or what they call maternal mortality index shows that Ebonyi State has above average in terms of performance in the area of primary, secondary and tertiary healthcare. It will also interest you to know that the Federal Ministry of Finance has equally given us a clean bill on the issue of debt.


That is why for any grant that is to be assessed by the states; we will be among the first to do that. One of the governor’s secrets is the spirit of prudence; fiscal responsibility is his watch word and he has zero tolerance for waste of taxpayers’ money. Again, the governor takes advantage of every opportunity provided by the Federal Government, donor agencies and development partners, whether national or international.


Above all, the governor believes that after election, comes governance that is all inclusive. That was why even though he was in PDP during his first term; he was able to take advantage of every opportunity provided by the Federal Government, including the Central Bank of Nigeria Anchor Borrowers Funding Programme, Commercial Agriculture Funding Programme, NPower programme as well as World Bank’s agricultural programmes like FADAMA III. The governor took advantage of these programmes to recreate the economy of Ebonyi State as well as to create the enabling environment for the growth of the economy of the state.


 *Members of the opposition in the state have accused the governor of muzzling them, how true is that?* 


Whenever you see someone making that accusation, you should know that it is out of weakness. Our governor is the most democratic governor and I stand to be quoted. There is no divergent view that he suppresses. We relate with the media that is the voice of the people and anyone can attest to that. Even when the governor was in opposition to the party at the centre, they accused him of romancing the party. Now that he is in the party at the centre, they are accusing him of suppressing the party he left. That cannot be possible. The governor believes that after politicking and elections, the next thing is governance without political colouration, governance that is inclusive.


Those who are claiming suppression, I will tell you, have no base. They only speak from Abuja and the South-East office of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Enugu. The governor ensures a level playing ground for everyone, so they people, who are saying this are those who have no political value before the people of Ebonyi State.


They refused to join the governor in the ruling party because they want to be the lord of the manor, so that they can get automatic tickets for the 2023 elections but by the time they secure the automatic tickets, they will come back to the people during the general election and they will be thrown out and that will be the end of the PDP in Ebonyi State.

Source : The Telegraph 


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