Umahi: A Selfish and Lone Voice Crying in the Wilderness?

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David Umahi

Many people have described the reason concocted by the Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, to dump the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC) as premature, groundless and ridiculous. More so, analysts wondered why a man who has achieved political heights will give a childish excuse because he has calculated being politically irrelevant in the future under PDP apparently due to his long-time and Nicodemus romance with APC. Agha Ibiam writes from the UK

If the people of South-east Nigeria are searching for a political leader, it is not the likes of Governor Dave Umahi. That he is a governor of one of the south-east states where he is not challenged by all his actions and make all manner of unguided utterances to the people, does not in any way qualify him to think he is capable enough to lead the people of the region out of the woods. Therefore, his defecting to APC should not be a worry to PDP. Instead, both the people of Ebonyi and PDP should rejoice because a political saboteur has finally gone.

In fact, the people of the south-east are not searching for Igbo president, rather, they are searching for an Igbo man or woman that will become the president of Nigeria just like other ethnic regions. Umahi’s claim that PDP has been unfair to the people of the south-east is perplexing. It’s like giving a dog a bad name because you want to hang it. However, Umahi has bitten the finger that fed him and has committed the political blunder of his life, unrelated to what he becomes tomorrow. There was no strategic thinking or planning in his decision to quit a political party that groomed him.

For the avoidance of doubt, Umahi in 2007 served as the acting state chairman of PDP when Dr. Sam Omiyi Egwu served as the governor. Umahi also served as the state chairman between 2009 and 2011. After that, he became a deputy governor in 2011. In 2015, he became a governor and in 2019 was re-elected under PDP. To be realistic, Umahi was not in any way the best and credible candidate that should have become a governor in Ebonyi if the country operates a sound democratic system or principles.

On the other hand, I wonder how Umahi thought that by defecting to APC he will achieve or attain his political height of becoming the president, or put differently, arrive at his Eldorado. I will rather forewarn him that his hopes could be dashed, if not putting himself at a crossroads in 2023. Is Umahi so convinced that the likes of former Governor Martin Elechi, whom he fought to finish and the current Minister of Technology, Dr. Ogbonaya Onu, will work in his favour? That is yet to be seen as he had stepped on their toes to become what he is today as a governor under PDP.

Nonetheless, Umahi is free to go anywhere he deems fit, but I would have reasoned he should have concentrated all his energies and plans to better the lives of the people of his state pay retired civil servants their gratuities, pay salaries timely and create jobs. That is good governance.

A retired civil servant said Umahi focused all efforts relocating government house and constructing an airport not needed now.
“If Umahi had connected the train station from Afikpo road to Abakaliki or connected the rail line from Enugu to Abakaliki, that would have been better. The airport he is constructing is a misplaced priority.

“People are saying Umahi is doing well in the state in terms of road construction. There is no construction work carried out in the state that is tendered. Is only Umahi that tenders and wins the contract. He is a judge in his own case,” he said.

Recently, a former Commissioner for Information and Orientation in Ebonyi, Abia Onyike, has decried the non-payment of his monthly pension and other retirement benefits by Umahi’s government. Onyike claimed he had not been paid his pension since June 2020. Not only that, Umahi verbally directed the state’s Ministry of Finance to stop payment of statutory monthly pension.

But if what the current Commissioner of Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji, said Onyike’s claim was spurious.

“As of today, I know some people that have died and did not receive a dime as gratuity. Some retired civil servants wanted to demonstrate against non-payment of gratuities, but was suppressed by the governor,” the former public servant said.

Umahi thinks that by accusing PDP as a catalyst to his decamping, it will be applauded by the people of the south-east. In some cases, though, silence may not be the answer to every comment or behaviour, Umahi crafted his reason for his moves to sound genuine, but very childish. The response provided by the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike, to Umahi to pursue his presidential ambition is a tip of the iceberg. Umahi should check statistics of how the region has been voting in all elections and deduce if PDP has been unfair to the Igbo.

Despite using the court to enforce a governor in Imo State, I doubt if south-east will ever think of having an APC governor. One day, the chickens will come home to roost.

Umahi talks about injustice by PDP but has not exonerated himself of such against his people. He had on some occasions warned that people should not speak their minds on national or state issues or should not criticise President Buhari otherwise they risk being sacked or disciplined. Where on earth are leaders not criticised? Who is Umahi to give such a warning in a democratic institution, if not a leader who is unfair to his people?

Well, it has also served Umahi right that some principled National Assembly members from Ebonyi State have disowned his comment. The leader of the Ebonyi State PDP caucus in the national assembly, Egwu and his colleagues have described Umahi a lone voice crying in the wilderness. They equally described Umahi’s statement as unacceptable and selfish.

Egwu also faulted Umahi for accusing the PDP leadership of being unfair to the South-east. He unequivocally told the governor of being an ingrate, claiming that the man had benefitted immensely from the PDP.

Egwu said not a single member of the Ebonyi State PDP group of the National Assembly is defecting to the APC.

“The three distinguished senators and five House of Representatives members remain proud card-carrying members of the Peoples Democratic Party, the platform under which we contested and won elections in 2019. Indeed, if there is any Ebonyi person who should remain eternally grateful to the PDP, that individual ought to be Umahi,” he said.

A word is enough for the wise. Whether Umahi decides to stay in APC or not is entirely up to him. Analysts said he has outlived his value in PDP. But it should be in the annals of history that the man who benefitted most from a political party is rather the one claiming injustice.