By Chooks Oko
Sixty years is the diamond age. The age of retirement for the civil servant in many climes and the celebrated beginning of Senior citizenship. With it comes the expectation of a gratitude to God for an accomplished life of service, memorable achievements, and good neighbourliness.
Thus, like finding the rare gem, Diamond, getting to sixty is no mean feat. Diamonds are said to last forever, and so it is with a worthy life of three score lived in service to others who are most likely not to pay you back for all you did for them.
So, it is for David Nweze Umahi, a Commander of the Order of the Niger, a Fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a Fellow of National Technology in Engineering and Deputy Leader of the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Born on July 25th, 1963, into the Umahi Nweze dynasty of Umunaga, Uburu in present day Ebonyi state, Umahi has proven that there is something in a name, after all. Like his biblical name sake, he is a man who has fought many successful wars; a man with very humongous accomplishments; a man of psalms and uncommon wisdom; and a man after God’s heart.
Trained as a Civil Engineer in the then Anambra State University of Science and Technology, Umahi leaves no one who comes in contact with him in doubt of his professional calling. Practical, analytical, calculative, and charming, you will know that he means well and is well endowed with “common sense” a la Ben Bruce.
As the Ebonyi State chairman of a political party, he became the first party leader in the entire country to build a befitting secretariat of a political party, a feat largely unrivalled till date by even the national leadership of most parties.
As the Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State, he was one of the most humble, resourceful, and achievement-laden in the country. As he is wont to telling any listening ear, he learnt well from a sage that was his principal in his Deputy Governor years, Chief Martin Elechi a revered technocrat and former Governor of Ebonyi State.
He equally broke the record as one of the few deputies who succeeded their boss. As Governor of Ebonyi State (2015-2023), Umahi is noted for his gigantic futuristic projects and the moulding of men. He started with flyovers and concrete roads and by the time he left office, he had built the biggest number of solid flyovers and the largest concrete road network in the entire country. Most of his projects rank among the biggest and most solid in the sectors they belong.
His appetite for work is legendary, and he drags along those working with him in that regard. If you are working with him, there should be no dull moment; you can be called at any time to account for the assignment you are handling. This has produced plenteous project managers amongst his erstwhile appointees. He mentored a lot of people into correctness in handling any kind of assignment with prudence, details, and quality delivery.
That the Federal government willingly took over the airport and University he built will attest to the state of his mind and products emanating therefrom. Thus the 60th birthday of Umahi is a watershed of several fulfilments of a life of service dedicated to the common good, uplifting the under-trodden and the raising of the bars of development. Umahi is the strength when all around seem helpless.
Even those who profess hatred for him do not deny his sterling qualities, they simply talk about personal encounters that does not detract from his towering public service records. In the 10th Senate, he has shown his qualitative work rate and penchant for astute outputs. A team player of immeasurable standards, he rallies his colleagues to support the government of the day guiding them through the murky democratic waters of Nigerian politics.
As he marks his birthday today, one can only wish him plenty more years of qualitative service to the nation he loves dearly in good health and plenty.
- Oko writes from Abakaliki, Ebonyi State.