Saturday, September 23, 2023


Umahi: An era of supersonic speed

Umahi: An era of supersonic speed
September 14
16:52 2023


Without any iota of doubt or equivocation, with Senator Dave Umahi as the minister of works, Nigeria is in an era of supersonic infrastructure, quality, durable, and cost-effective work across the country. Umahi’s demonstrable capacity, antecedents, and illustrious personality are no longer a subject of any debate save for political mischief. His detractors concede to him, albeit in their closet, that he is a works guru. He knows it; he understands the techniques and intricacies; he is creative and innovative about it; he is passionate about delivery; and without a doubt, he bulldozes every conceivable obstacle on his way to excellence in quality service delivery.

Let me even state my motivation in writing this. I have always boasted about Umahi’s magic in the infrastructural transformation of Ebonyi state. He was not doing any media adverts or promotions. Only those who came to Ebonyi saw it and spread the gospel. Then, two incidents of some serious national proportions occurred concerning me, Ebonyi state, and the Umahi’s Midas touch on Ebonyi as governor. One, in 2021, I pleaded with him to host the senate meeting of the National Association of Nigerian Students (NANS), where I was a leader years ago. He graciously obliged, bringing student leaders from different parts of the country to Ebonyi state. That story has yet to end to date and will not end for most of the participants. With pride and great delight, I remember the live coverage of a sit-out on the Glass Tunnel at Spera “N” Deo end of the Abakiliki -Afikpo Expressway.

These guys could not believe that they were sitting out, enjoying their drinks and meals while watching football matches on a giant street television on the road. At the same time, vehicles passed under and beside them without any threat. I loved the caption: “No, this is not Dubai, America or Europe. This is Abakiliki, Ebonyi state”. I saw that video because so many people tagged me, which was a proud moment.


The second incident was my wedding, which I deliberately took to Abakiliki, dragging my friends there. The story was the same. I remember that the president of the National Youth Council of Nigeria (NYCN), Comrade Solomon Adodo, made a press release that did not go down well with his own governor because he suggested that the governors should go to Ebonyi and learn how to turn a rustic, austere state into a mega city.

Indeed, I will avoid discussing Ebonyi state because that is a finished assignment before the eternal endorsement of posterity. There is nothing to add or remove in the Ebonyi story. It is there! And of course, no less a person than Prof Chinedum Nwajiuba did a fantastic job on an objective appraisal of Dave Umahi’s stewardship in Ebonyi state in his masterpiece: ‘Dave Umahi: The Loneliness of Leadership and the Eternity of History’ where he concluded that even those who then criticized Umahi may realize in the next few years that the man has “worked himself into the eternity of history”. That conclusion is a fact today.

So my friends, particularly Joshua Ocheja, challenged me to stop telling this Umahi story orally all the time. He prodded me on the subject each time the news-making Umahi does one wonder or the other, as he has been doing since his inauguration.


The truth is that Umahi does not wish to be in the news. I doubt if that is one of his desires because he would have spent Ebonyi’s money on the media, even for the seemingly right reason of promoting his achievements in Ebonyi. But he refused. He makes news because news finds him doing what he likes to do in pursuit of quality and his journey to excellence. Henry Ford states: “Quality means doing it right when no one is looking”. In Ebonyi, Umahi was known for midnight and wee hours project inspection. There were usually no media or cameras. What people see and the media celebrate is the end product.

For instance, more than any other minister, Umahi has been on the roads across a country of 923,768km², inspecting, assessing, evaluating, reviewing, and issuing professional and suitable directives about the state of roads and contracts. That is Umahi for you! He is not interested in eye service or initial gra-gra in our local parlance. The Umahi, I know, is not interested in anybody’s validation as long as he has a grasp of what he is doing. Like him or hate him, the quality of his work is his proven credential.

It is like José Mourinho who told the Italian press when he was in Inter Milan that his job is to win matches and their job is to report it. So, even if you hate him, you cannot report that he lost when he wins. This attitude angers those who seek his attention unduly. But as they say, it is what it is. The man is only focused on the tasks before him as a leader.

For Umahi, excellence is, according to Rick Pitino, “the ability to improve the quality of what you have to offer”. With eyes always on the ball, Nigeria is in an unusual, uncommon, and glorious era in the works sector. Something could be able to match it; that, we do not know yet. But hardly anything can be better than this Umahi’s era. Pessimistic compatriots who, in the words of Steve Jobs, “aren’t used to an environment where excellence is expected” should be ready to have their minds reformatted and views re-dissected because Umahi is the total expression of the pinnacle of quality service delivery. And as it is in Ebonyi, so it will be in Nigeria, where after the limited term he will serve as minister for works, he will without fail leave evident footprints in the sands of time of Nigeria.


Igwe Ude-Umanta is a public policy analyst and a social commentator

Views expressed by contributors are strictly personal and not of TheCable.


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