The story of our State Ebonyi is that of a young State, with a lot of promise but whose huge potentials have been allowed to waste away due to many years of government’ mis-management, utter neglect and nonchalance to the condition and plight of the people.
Our dear State, Ebonyi, fondly known as the “salt of the nation” because of our largely untapped huge deposits of salt in the State was created 14 years ago, on October 1, 1996 with its Capital at Abakaliki. Ebonyi State, carved out from parts of Abia and Enugu States shares boundaries with Benue State in the North, Enugu State in the West, Cross Rivers state in the East and Abia State in the South.
The 13 Local Government Areas (LGAs) that make up the State are Abakaliki, Afikpo North, Afikpo South, Ebonyi, Ezza South, Ezza North, Ikwo, Ishielu , Ivo, Ohaozara, Onicha, Izzi, Ohaukwu. The LGA’s are further delineated into the Senatorial districts – Ebonyi North comprising Abakaliki, Ebonyi, Ishielu, Ohaukwu and lzzi LGA, Ebonyi Central made up lkwo, Ezza North and Ezza South LGAs and Ebonyi South, made up of Afikpo, North, Afikpo South, Ivo, Ohaozara and Onicha LGA’s
My constituency of Ivo, Ohaozara and Onicha fall under Ebonyi South Senatorial district. Ivo Local Government Area is where the Federal College of Agriculture is located and oil pipelines pass through this area and have oftentimes caused environmental pollution that have devastated the farmlands of our people thereby making it impossible for them to engage in food production. Onicha Local government Area, with its headquarters in Isu is considered one of the most fertile areas in the whole of South Eastern Nigeria. It has the capacity to produce enough food to feed the rest of the country, yet because of lack of support from the government in creating the enabling environment for private businesses to invest, this Local Governement Area has continued to lag behind in growth and development. Ohaozara Local Government Area, with headquarters in Obiozara is also another very important LGA of Ebonyi State which has yet to achieve its full potential because of the neglect that it has continued to suffer since its creation.
The three arms of government in the State are the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The Executive arm is headed by the Executive Governor who is assisted by a Deputy Governor, members of his Executive Council, made up of Commissioners, the Secretary to the State government, Permanent Secretaries, Special Advisers and Special Assistants.
The Legislative arm of government is made up of the State House of Assembly, headed by an elected Speaker, and assisted by the Deputy Speaker and the Clerk of the House of Assembly.
The Judiciary is comprised of the State Courts of appeal, headed by the Chief Judge of the State, Magistrate Courts and Customary Courts.
On their part, the Local government Administrations are headed by elected Local Government Chairmen, assisted by a Deputy Chairman and Local Councilors who represent the various wards that make up the local government.
In Ebonyi, we are predominantly farmers and fishermen, both sectors which have continued to suffer severe neglect by the government since the discovery of oil in Nigeria. The main crops that are cultivated in the State are Yams, rice, maize, groundnut, banana, plantain, Cassava, melon, sugar, beans, vegetables, fruits, sugar cane among other food and cash crops..
In addition to the Agricultural produce, Ebonyi is rich with a lot of mineral resources, chief of which are salt in Okposi and Uburu Salt Lakes. It is as a result of this that the State is called the “salt of the nation”. Other mineral resources which the state has rich deposits of are Limestone, Lead, Zinc and Marble. In spite of this abundance of natural resources, the government has not offered the right incentives for large scale commercial mining that will lead to the growth and development of the State. Ebonyi also has a huge reserve of untapped oil and natural gas upon which the future development of the State can be built, if properly harnessed and utilized for the benefit of the generality of the people.
The industrial base of the State is very weak and can be built up through proper government policies that will provide the enabling environment for private sector initiatives to thrive. It is through proper industrialization of the Agricultural and manufacturing sectors of the State that Ebonyi can emerge as an industrial giant and a true modern state of the 21st century that will be the envy of other States. Today what make up the weak industrial base of Ebonyi is the Nigerian Cement Company, NCC at Nkalagu, a few quarry companies, some rice mills and a few food processing factories .
In education, even though the vibrant youth population is enthusiastic about education and is interested in acquiring better education, the high level of poverty constitute a big threat to the attainment of quality education. Fourteen years after its creation, the State can only boast of one Federal Polytechnic, one College of Education in Ikwo, a College of Agriculture in Ishiagu and Ebonyi State University (EBSU). In addition there are just three poorly equipped schools of Nursing in the entire State located at Edda, Afikpo and Uburu. These schools are in such deplorable conditions that they leave much to be desired. It is not hard to imagine the quality of education that are offered in these schools, especially in the light of the fact that the teachers are poorly paid and the students are not motivated to learn in the squalor of ill-equipped institutions.
In spite of the very harsh living conditions which the people cope with on a daily basis, the hard working people of Ebonyi are known to be among the most hardworking, honest and happy people in Nigeria. This can be seen in their openness in welcoming both visitors and strangers to their communities. People from other parts of Nigeria and the rest of the world who have visited Ebonyi attest to the warm welcome they receive each time they visit. They often glow with pride when they talk about the rich cultural heritage of Ebonyi which is expressed through some of the most spectacular and colourful cultural dances, folklores, local art and artifacts. Some of the well known cultural display of the Ebonyi people that have often attracted both local and international attention and have won several awards and recognition worldwide include the Nkwa Umuagbogho Dance group and Nkwa Nwite from Afikpo and Ojianyalere of Amasiri. The cultural diversity of the people of Ebonyi is also reflected in the languages that are spoken across the State. These languages which are all subset of the Igbo language are Afikpo, Mgbo, Izzi, Ezaa, Ikwo, Kukele, Legbo, Mbembe and Oring
The Health sector in Ebonyi State, since the State was created has fared no better than other sectors. In the whole of the State there are two major hospitals – Federal Medical Center and Ebonyi State Teaching Hospital, both of which are located at the State Capital, Abakaliki. There are also three general hospitals in Enohia Itim, Onueke and in Onicha. The quality of the facilities in these hospitals leaves much to be desired. The hardworking doctors, nurses and other health care providers have been performing near miracles in taking care of their patients while the government, both federal and State remain insensitive to their working conditions and the lack of infrastructures necessary to effectively discharge their responsibilities.