He appeared and shone like a million stars, and then, faded away. He rose like a meteor and suddenly disappeared.

Hon. Martin Nduka Ilo, former Economic Adviser to the Governor of Enugu State, and former Secretary to Enugu State Government, brilliant, humble, caring, unassuming, ever smiling, gentleman par excellence, was a colossus in his own right. He was a decent man, a devout Christian, a quiessential technocract, an astute administrator, and a committed public servant.

An Electrical Engineer later turned Chartered Accountant, Martin was a result-oriented career man, very passionate in his belief, and very dedicated to his work. He would never let go any goal he had set out to achieve. He would throw himself, body and soul, into the bargain.

It was former Governor Chimaroke Nnamani who first discovered the great talent in Martin Ilo, along with his friend, the late Ogbonna Ike, when they came from the KGMP Consulting Firm in Lagos, to deliver papers for members of the State Executive Council at a retreat organized for them sometime in 2003.

The brilliance of their presentations so enamoured Governor Nnamani that he wasted no time in appointing Martin Ilo, his Economic Adviser, and created the Ministry of Poverty Reduction, and made Ogbonna Ike its Commissioner.

As Economic Adviser, Martin worked hard to formulate a workable economic policy for Enugu State. He designed an economic blueprint for the state, and prepared the State’s Economic Empowerment Development Strategy (SEEDS) that was to be a catalyst for rapid economic development of the state.

Martin Ilo worked with several development partners like the World Bank, the British Department for International Development (DFID), as well as with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Enugu State.

It was through his efforts that such World Bank projects like the Local Empowerment and Environmental Management Project (LEEMP), later renamed Community and Social Development Project (CSDP), came to Enugu State, as well as other World Bank projects like FADAMA, Rural Access and Mobility Programme (RAMP), Commercial Agricultural Development Project and the Nigerian Erosion Watershed Management Project (NEWMAP).

Martin equally worked with the DFID for the reforms of the state’s public service sector, the state’s law system, as well as in establishing community policing, the first of its kind in the country. The Enugu Resource Centre was to his credit. It was indeed a period of economic focus for Enugu State, and we must commend Martin Ilo for that.

As Secretary to the Enugu State Government, 2007 to 2011, Martin Ilo fared no less better. He was said to be instrumental to formulating the Four-Point Development Agenda of former Governor Sullivan Chime Administration and was indeed regarded as the brain box of that administration, and everything worked in their proper places.

Throughout the period, Enugu State was rated high in budget implementation by both local and international development agencies.

Born some 50 years ago, on November 12, 1968, at Obinofia Ndiuno in Ezeagu Local Government Area of Enugu State, Martin attended Umuobi Premier School, Udi, as well as Community Secondary School, Udi.

He entered University of Nigeria, Nsukka, in 1986, and graduated in Electrical Electronics Engineering in 1991. Later, he read accountancy and was admitted as member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN) as well as African Institute of Applied Economics.

Martin was interested in job creation for teeming unemployed youths in his community, and had attracted several rural development projects to his community, Obinofia Ndiuno, such as construction of primary and secondary schools, road rehabilitation and rural electrification.

Martin Ilo died at his prime, on February 20, 2019, leaving behind his amiable wife, Winnie Nneka, children and several relations. What a painful and monumental loss!

We however take solace to the fact that Martin had made his mark. He had paid his due. He came, he saw and he conquered.

Adieu, Great Son of Enugu State, and may your gentle soul continue to rest in the bossom of Our Lord.

Dons Eze, PhD.

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