It appears too early for the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi, to start playing god ahead of 2023, writes Benjamin Nworie
The jostle for the Ebonyi State Government House in 2023 is gradually having a definite shape. By 2023, Governor David Umahi will bow out, having served out his constitutional two terms of eight years.
However, whether the governor has started revealing the identity of his successor or he is gradually tilting towards imposition, one thing that is certain is that the election of 2023 is still shrouded in uncertainties.
From indications, the governor has indirectly foreclosed the chances of some contenders. The governor might also be fighting some people to a standstill. Only those anointed may have a fresh breath, because the governor seems ready not to take anything for granted or by chance.
He has revealed part of what he wanted and the shape of Ebonyi politics in 2023 and there’s enough time for those affected to assimilate the executive decision by all means.
Umahi’s recent revelation on the choice of his successor has started to raise dust and unsettle the polity. For those, who feel or depend on outsiders or external influence, the governor has warned that there won’t be any breathing space for such interference.
To an extent, it’s appearing like he has concluded the political package he has for Ebonyi people in 2023, waiting for time for execution. Umahi is a thoroughbred and intelligent politician, who knows the temperament and countenances of Ebonyi people at each time.
He has his effective magic wand and he seems to have solutions to all situations. It baffles many how Umahi manages to bring and coordinates political strange bedfellows together in his administration.
He wants all his followers to follow his Creed and have it in minds. First, the governor said there would not be external influence on the choice of his successor. Second, Umahi said he would convoke prayers in all the thirteen council areas of the State for God to choose his successor.
The governor noted that those, who might be thinking that attending functions of other political bigwigs outside the state would give them the connections to succeed him were wasting their times, as Ebonyi people have come of age to determine their leader.
It was gathered that some National Assembly members had started oiling their contacts, which they intended to use and prosecute their governorship ambition in the state.
A notable senator in the state has been accused of nocturnal meetings within and outside the country in a bid to forming a formidable structure for the governorship battle in 2023, no matter whose ox is gored.
But according to the governor, “intense prayers will be carried out in the 13 local government areas of the state for God to reveal who will succeed me,” reiterating that no politician in the state could influence his choice of successor in 2023 except God.
The governor spoke at a Special Thanksgiving service at Christ Embassy, Mile 50 Abakaliki, the state capital. Umahi alleged that many politicians prefer attending functions outside the state while shunning state government functions.
“Such politicians are doing so in their bid to wield influence from outside the state with a view to determining who will succeed me in 2023,” he noted.
Describing politicians as ungrateful, the governor said most of them, instead of being grateful to God for the positions they currently occupy, “begin to scheme for another position immediately after they secure their positions”.
He said there would be immense prayers across the 13 local government areas of the state to enable God choose a crop of leaders that would emerge after his administration, “so as to prevent the state from being plunged back into the era of darkness.
“I will say that politicians are the most ungrateful people to God. When God has delivered you, the next move is to start looking for another post. It’s a very terrible thing.
“A lot of our people, when there is programme here they will not come but when there is programme outside the state, they will go there, believing that the leadership of this state can be influenced from outside.
“We have come of age and nobody can influence the elective or appointive positions in this state from outside the state, it’s not possible.
“And all those people who are going to occultist or herbalists on this, as far as I came in the name of the Lord, they will all be disgraced. The next crop of leaders will come from God in this state and serious prayers will be mounted on this in all the local government areas.”
The governor, however, assured the people that “a greater number of people would be empowered in 2020.”
The clincher was when the governor added that his successor would not be older than him.
Deputy Governor, Kelechi Igwe, had led other Exco members on a Christmas homage to the governor at his Uburu country home, when Umahi said: “l will not support anyone that is older than me for Governor come 2023. We need someone that is energetic and ready to lead with every commitment.
“I will not engage in 2023 politics now, I can only talk politics a year to the end of my tenure not now. We are more concerned to developing the state and cannot be distracted by desperate people who are hungry for power and not for the betterment of the people”.
The Governor’s outburst had since unsettled many in the state. Some camps and categories of people are already aggrieved. Some interested contestants from the State’s Elders Council, who are clearly victims of the age factor, seemed disappointed. Some casualties of the factors can also be found in the Divine Mandate, a campaign Organization of the Governor.
They can “manouver” external influence and prayer session, after all every contender claimed he or she had a pact with God before declaration of intention but will they begin to falsify or reduce their ages to fit in the category.
An aggrieved source said the governor simply down-rated Ebonyi politicians with his utterances. Again, that his utterances downplayed the God-factor especially as he sounded authoritative that he won’t handover to an older person.
Even though some people accused the governor of complex factor, Umahi’s utterances appeared a deliberate plan to install a successor that could sustain and improve on his legacies.
Umahi is generally believed to have achieved a lot and made Ebonyi, a shinning example to all as well as a beacon of collective achievements to the world. His developmental strides are legion and enduring.
He has placed Ebonyi State so highly that his imprint could pass the test of time. Ebonyi, under Umahi, has been taken out of squalor to a glorified new city. But when politics sets in, the twist becomes unimaginable.
In the standard of Ebonyi politics, aspirants had always relied on external forces to prosecute their ambition especially when there’s power disparity in the State. Two major scenarios usually play out in Ebonyi politics. One, the governor’s preferred choice and two, other aggrieved contenders, who feel shortchanged and excluded.
But no matter how it plays out, the politics of 2023 in the state is full of uncertainties. It will be a game of Titans. The governor may face the strictest opposition that might be tougher than the 1999 election in the state.
Two zones are in a battle to the finish. They are the Ezzas of Ebonyi Central and the Izzis of Ebonyi North. The Ebonyi South is quiet but eyeing the exalted seat not minding that the incumbent is from the zone. But the argument they have whether cogent or flimsy is that the rotation has been concluded and the new round of governorship can start from any zone.
Apart from the two clans in Ebonyi Central and North zones, people from other small clans or ethnic leanings are strongly jostling for the seat. Principal among them is the Ebonyi Central Senator, Senator Obinna Ogba.
To onlookers, Senator Ogba may be unstoppable, even though people see his ambition as grandstanding to secure his return ticket to the Senate. But in all permutations and calculation, Senator Ogba is not a walkover candidate. He can’t be written off at this time when he was not stopped in 2019.
Perhaps, because of nocturnal meetings and secret realignments, the governor has warned against political meetings in the state, with the reason that it was still early for anyone to begin to talk of 2023.
Umahi specifically warned and threatened any member of his State Executive Council with sack over any political movement ahead of 2023. But the questions many have asked are: can the governor single-handedly muzzle the 2023 politics alone considering that he’s an outgoing governor with reduced influence?
Won’t there be new forces against the factors he has adumbrated for the choice of his successor? Will Ebonyi bigwigs and contenders allow him play God and determine the faith of everyone?
Whatever angle it’s being analysed, the selection or the choice of Umahi’s successor may be the most challenging period in the political life of the governor. Many may stab and betray him. Many seeming friends may also harbour grudges that will blossom when they feel they it’s time to open up. Such betrayal is common in Ebonyi politics.
It did not take much time for campaigners and stakeholders to desert Ex-governor, Martin Elechi and his preferred choice, Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu in 2015. The way and manner loyalties and supports shifted to Umahi in 2015 always sent shivers that Ebonyi politicians don’t have true friends or foes. They are united by interest and money. Therefore, the fortunes of the PDP in the state are dependent on how varied interest is protected otherwise imposition will mar the party in the state.
Quote: But no matter how it plays out, the politics of 2023 in the state is full of uncertainties. It will be a game of Titans. The governor may face the strictest opposition that might be tougher than the 1999 election in the state