Chief Peter Oba is the Special Assistant to Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State on Transport. In this interview with EGBO GRACE, he speaks on the unity and peace experienced in the state under the current administration, donation of buses to different states within the country to convey the people of the state who couldn’t afford the fare to come home and other issues. Experts
Is it true that the state sent buses to various states to convey people back to the state free of charge and for what purpose?
Yes our governor, David Nweze Umahi sent out luxurious buses to give free transportation to the people of Ebonyi living outside the state. And the reason for this is we have found out that due to the high level of poverty being experienced by many indigenes living outside the state, many could not afford the fare to come home to see their family members, we do not want this, everyone should be able to come home to identify with what is going on and see their families.
Do you see the gesture as important?
Yes, the governor has done very well. Do you know that this free transportation has helped so many families to unite because most people that have stayed away from home for so long for various reasons especially due to financial challenges and couldn’t afford the transport fare used the opportunity to come home to celebrate with their friends and family, it also allowed them to network within themselves and strategise on pushing the state forward as well as seeing the countless development that had taken place in the state and have a sense of pride about their hometown.
What do you think inspired the governor to embark on the programme?
Like I said, the governor embarked on the programme because of the level of poverty in the country that has affected many to the extent of stopping them from going to their hometown because of high transport fares; this has affected the state so much that many has stopped coming home, this is bad for any community. Can you imagine our children speaking other dialects but when you speak their native language to them, they will be looking at you as if you are speaking a funny language; they don’t understand our native dialect or know their culture and heritage because no one brings them home. Some of them when they came down to Ebonyi state, they were arguing that this is not Ebonyi state. And I had to tell them that it is indeed the Ebonyi they left, the difference is that the present governor is developing it like other cities of the world.
This development is the reason the governor is trying hard to carry everyone along, for those within and outside the state to feel the impact of the dividend of democracy on their community and this kind of gesture is only done by few governors.
Is there any other impact the free transportation has brought to the state?
Yes, bringing people home encouraged them to transfer their voters’ card back home because many expressed the view that they needed to encourage the governor to do more by ensuring he retains his position, they believe it is the only thing they could do to appreciate the governor who remembers his people that are outside the state. He has tried to make them happy and many of them are ready to come home to vote for him.
It is said that many that came do not want to return to their base, what plan does the governor have for such people?
Some of them said they are not going back to the north because the level of poverty that was in the state when they left is no longer in the state. And from that, I have also noticed that only those who have enough capital are the ones going back but majority are staying back home to embark on agriculture and governor is supporting them.
Is the government doing this to win votes in the coming election?
No. In 2016 and 2017, there was no election and the governor did it, so this 2018 cannot be different or political. He is just interested in making his people happy and feel the impact of governance.
What message do you have for the beneficiaries and others outside the state?
My message to them is for them to be law abiding anywhere they are and if they are not engaged in any serious vocation, they should come back home and engage in agriculture because it is the source of the state’s income and government is ready to support them.
Will the government take back those that want to return to their base?
No we don’t have any plan to take them back because majority of them said they are not going back and those of them that are going back because they have things waiting for them are already gone.
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