Gov. David Umahi of Ebonyi State has reiterated his commitment to lift the people out of poverty.
He said this in a statement signed and released to News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja by Mr Oluchukwu Ezeali, Ebonyi Commissioner for Project Monitoring and Evaluation.
According to the statement, the governor intends to achieve the feat through massive infrastructure development.
The statement said that areas of emphasis would be in manpower development, improved health care system and building social infrastructures among others.
Ezeali had expressed concern over the recent ranking by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), which rated the State as the 4th poorest state in the country.
The rating also placed the state as the first poorest in the South-east, with regard to economic development, attributed to urban migration.
He noted that the ranking did not take into consideration the attemps of the administration to bridge the gap between urban and rural poverty rates.
He noted that more young productive labour had fled the rural areas in search of opportunities in urban areas.
The commissioner said in the statement that the governor had been doing his best to ensure that Ebonyi people were lifted out of poverty since assumption of office in 2015.
“The governor embarked on an urbanisation drive across Ebonyi State not just to create an enabling environment for business and productivity, but also to make the entire State habitable.
“Recently, the National Bureau of Statistics released the poverty index of States, ranking Ebonyi State as the 4th poorest State in Nigeria.
“It came to a lot of us as a surprise, given the massive infrastructure development of governor David Umahi-led administration over the past five years.
“Ebonyi State was fast becoming an old people’s home before the emergence of Umahi as Governor.
Almost every young productive and enterprising Ebonyi person lived in the diaspora, but the story is different today,’’ he said.
Ezeali also said that the governor had created huge industrial clusters in the three senatorial zones of the State located strategically with proximity to raw materials and markets.
He added that the industrial clusters had the capacity of creating over 200,000 jobs for Ebonyi people and others and reduce the brain drain that the State had suffered over time.
According to him, poverty is eradicated through building social infrastructure, mostly by creating job opportunities.
The commissioner further observed that more Ebonyi citizens and non-indigenes were investing in the State and creating jobs.
“More young people shun the dangers of an uncertain sojourn in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Onitsha among others.
“They are taking advantage of the opportunities that the urbanisation and modernisation of the State has provided.
“The high quality roads constructed across the State by the present administration have bridged the gap between rural and urban categorisations.
“ The productive labour force in the hinterlands are growing due to the accessibility of markets for farm produce and other crafts that the State has always been known for.
“The State is now a route for commercial motorists plying Enugu/Onitsha to Cross River, Akwa Ibom and parts of Abia State and in these busy routes have emerged commercial activities to cater for the needs of commuters’’.
Ezeali said that the State had also become a busy haulage route and features prominently on the development plans of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
He added that “Umahi was laying a solid foundation for economic growth and like most reform policy interventions, the gains are usually in phases and most are already manifesting’’.
He also said that schools in the State were being upgraded in infrastructure and manpower while the health sector had received a boost.
“Today, Ebonyi State is home to a Federal Teaching Hospital, a Regional Virology Centre and a state-of-the-art Ebonyi State University Teaching Hospital (EBSUTH) approaching completion.
“Functional Primary Health Centres (PHC) are available across the State, catering for the healthcare needs of rural dwellers and providing training and jobs for healthcare givers, nurses and midwives.
Edited By: Emmanuel Nwoye/Donald Ugwu (NAN)