By Agha Ajah
It is indeed in the respite of our unstopping tears, our bleeding souls, our restless spirits and our broken hearts that we scribe this letter, with hope it is accepted with little or no regard to the writers. We write with open hearts and hope its content is digested without bias, sentiment, partiality, prejudice or irrationality. In short it is our vehement wish that this letter will bring relief to many of deprived Ebonyians.
It is understandable that the infant Ebonyi State is geographically located in an area bordered by Middle-Belt Benue State, South-South Cross River State, South-East Enugu State and South-East Abia State, which can be verifiably the reason for some persistent crisis that have sometimes marred unity in some of the regions/parts of the state. Harboring several dialects of Igbo language, Ebonyi State remains a perfect example of unity in diversity. Ebonyi people are people of prestigious agricultural occupation with the much celebrated Abakaliki rice, large yams production of the Ezza Nation and of course the popular Afikpo fishes; the Salt of the Nation, endowed with quality and rich mineral resources, in the likes of salt, limestone, zinc etc.
A state with a rich cultural heritage, green peace, colorful environment and pleasurable nature base, conducive for tourism! A state with fabulous pasture, little wonder why the Mgbo area of the State is known with the raring of such animals like donkey among others, as well as the occupation of several parts within the state by herdsmen. Despite these indications of prolific endowments, the state still remains one of the most underdeveloped, the poorest, the most backward and the most humanly deprived states of the nation. Hence, the people of Ebonyi state soon after creation in 1996 (thanks to the struggles of our founding fathers) expected a government of their own; a responsive government that is of indigenous instinct and that which understands the plight of Ebonyians. However, under the 15 years of civilian democratic rule in the state, the pace of development according to the yearnings of the people has been slow and not achieved.
The state is at the tail end of the second tenure of her second Executive Governor, yet the story has little or no change. The two successive civilian democratic tenures since the state creation had raised high hopes for Ebonyians, as contained in the oath of office and electioneering campaigns of these governments. Yet what we have always witnessed is a deflection from this oath. If the present administration is holding onto this oath then we doubt the heart breaking Ezilo crisis should have ever been witnessed during this tenure as well. A crisis that claimed lives, injured many, maimed many and rendered many Ebonyians homeless! A crisis that physically and mentally disabled may Ebonyians! How many more instances can we refer to? How well can we then say these governments have lived up to the oath they made to the masses? How best have their best abilities served the huge needs of our dear state?
Political wisdom demands that a government that is for the people should always conceive the yearnings of its people whom it is there to serve according to democratic principles. What level of democratic dividends have we seen in Ebonyi state? What level of freedom of speech has been guaranteed by the government? No wonder the media houses are full of praises than criticism even in areas where the governments have erred. How then can we strengthen the weaknesses of our governments? Or is our government not responsive? Why are even the professionals, the most advanced, the elites, the social comrades, the welfare campaigners, the justice advocates and the media houses silent over the gory and sufferings of poor Ebonyians. How many Ebonyians ask why despite all the agricultural and mineral resources of our dear state the larger percentage of Ebonyians are still uneducated, unemployed and poor, living bellow standard in hunger and deprivation?
The lackluster approach towards the harnessing of Ebonyi natural endowments towards the growth, development and advancement of the welfare of Ebonyi people is highly lamentable. Therefore, we are indeed bewildered and devastated that our people still lack sustainable income, strong economic base and indubitably still poor, when a government splurges millions and billions of naira in the construction of bridges where there are no good roads and construction of water schemes, when Ebonyians do not have access to potable water. It is amazing that a government which cannot meet the pressing need for employment and promotion of agriculture which is the basis for food security and the survival of Ebonyipeople, spends so much such white elephant projects.
I doubt if the construction of a market place or a government secretariat is enough to classify a government as successful and hence delivering the dividends of democracy. Alas! We should even await completion before we talk of it as a yardstick for success. Would it be unfair to say that though a state like Ebonyi state needs infrastructural development it unarguably needs more than just construction of bridges and construction of government secretariat that benefit the elites, not the poor masses? Inhabitants of Ebonyi state who travel along the Abakaliki-Afikpo highway as well as Abakaliki-Ogoja road can attest that more need to be done in the infrastructural development, which is deemed to be the area of success for the government.
It is not unthinkably unwise to say that in comparison with some states created alongside our great and dear Ebonyi state, Ebonyi needs to do more. Our university is languishing due to lack of infrastructure; our students are suffering from constant internal strikes (not just the National ASUU strikes) which have hindered sufficient output from EBSU intellectuals needed for the growth of our great Ebonyi. Incessant hike in tuition fees as well as poor students and lecturers/staff welfare have left the state’s high institution of learning languishing.
This is by no means a criticism or accusation intended towards anybody. This is just a call for awareness, a reminder for revaluation and a quest for social justice. For how long shall Ebonyians stand this mellow drama, this theoretical analysis on paper for every regime? We believe the time is right for Ebonyians to take their destiny by their hands. We believe it is the time to make the right judgment, to choose the right and most befitting future and to avert our poor historical leadership trend.
Yes, all hope is not lost. Our educational system can still be redeemed, our infrastructure can get better, our agriculture can get boosted, our economy can get bigger and our yearnings can still be actualized. That can only be achieved when the leadership position is given to a vibrant, visionary and development-driven crusader who is loved and accepted by the Ebonyi people themselves. Guess who can fit in this onerous task! Sure, Chief HarounOgbonniaAjah is the man Ebonyians to be trusted. Let there be no manipulations against this Ebonyi project for 2015!
Comrade Agha Ajah via firstname.lastname@example.org.