Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has announced the conversion of the state-owned moribund five-star hotel built by a former Governor of the state into a new Faculty of Engineering for the State University.
The supposed five star facility, Rice City Hotel, initiated by the first Governor of the State and now Senator representing Ebonyi North Senatorial District, Senator Sam Egwu, was abandoned during his tenure and has been taken over by weeds.
Subsequent investigations revealed that the project did not meet the minimum criteria for a decent hotel, both in size, quality and rating, which made subsequent administrations decline its continuation.
Umahi, during a live press conference forming part of activities marking his second term inauguration, said the facility was a ready site for the commencement of the newly approved Engineering Faculty.
Enumerating his achievements in the past four years in the areas of road infrastructure, health, agriculture, education, security, commerce and industry, Umahi maintained that he would continue to give serious attention to the education sector.
Describing the sector as a productive one, he pledged to continue the prompt payment of teachers at all levels.
Umahi further announced that his administration recently gave automatic employment to all first class graduates from the state in a bid to check unemployment and encourage academic excellence.
Umahi, who also maintained that he would have to focus more attention on human capital development and empowerment in his second tenure, added that he has embarked on the construction of industrial clusters in the three zones of the State to boost commerce and industry, pledging to increase them to one per local government area in his second term.
He explained that the State Shopping Mall, rated the best in Africa, has reached about 80 per cent completion, while the international market has been remodelled to really serve international purposes.
Umahi regretted the huge revenue losses the State has hitherto suffered in the solid minerals sector, saying: “In the months ahead, we would be able to get our mining industry to the level we would like it it be.”
Umahi, however, encouraged investors to invest freely in Ebonyi as the State has enacted a law on investors protection and concession, which would guarantee the safety of their investments in case of any inimical changes in government policies.
According to him, apart from efforts to resuscitate the premier Nigeria Cement factory, Nkalagu, the State Government has recently engaged Dangote Group to inspect limestone deposits in Ishielu Local Government Area of the State for possible establishment of a cement factory.
This, according to him, would amount to four cement factories earmarked for establishment by his administration.
Umahi stressed: “Our in-road in fertilizer production has brought lower the cost of fertilizer and made Ebonyi State the major supplier of the product in South East and South South.
“It has been a story of success in the area of agriculture.
“Our College of Education has been upgraded to a degree awarding institution.
“Any State in need of technological development must have an Engineering Faculty in its University.
“It is in recognition of this that we have concluded to establish the Faculty of Engineering in Ebonyi State University and we have chosen former Rice City Hotel to start the EBSU new Faculty of Engineering.
“In the next four years, we are expecting to have the best teaching hospital, Olympic size stadium, an airport, dualisation of Abakaliki-Enugu and Abakaliki-Afikpo highways.”
While setting the tone for the event, the Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Senator Emmanuel Onwe, said Umahi’s achievement have gained international accolade and urged journalists to feel free to engage the Governor constructively.
The press conference, which featured an interactive session with journalists from diverse media organisations, also culminated in a dinner with the Governor.