By Johnpaul Anih, 23 – 11 – 2020
I have no problem with Umahi defecting to APC, because he has all the constitutional right to choose whatever party he wants at any time.
Where I have no problem with Umahi is when he told the world that his action was a protest against the injustice meted to Igbos by the PDP over the years. There is nothing to show that Umahi loves the Igbos to now claim to speak for their interest.
Let’s go down memory lane.
- In the first place, Umahi and his family benefitted more than any other Igbo members of the PDP.
• Umahi was Ebonyi State PDP chairman for 4 years.
• He was deputy governor of Ebonyi State under PDP for 4 years.
• He has been governor of Ebonyi State for 5 years now.
• His junior brother, Austin Umahi is Chairman of PDP, South East zone.
• His other younger brother, Maxwell Umahi was deputy chairman of PDP Ebonyi State.
• His nominee is a member of PDP National Working Committee.
Umahi should have used these capacities to secure presidential plot. In spite of the above, Umahi is now, accusing PDP of injustice, whatever he means by that, even when he has been one of the most influential members of the party at State, zonal and national levels. Which, by simple logic, means that he is part of whatever problem there is in the PDP. Umahi is therefore deceiving himself, thinking he is deceiving the Igbos.
- When Ohaneze Ndigbo adopted the PDP because the party was in support of restructuring of the country, although Igbo youths opted for secession, and also because Atiku, then PDP presidential candidate picked an Igbo person, Peter Obi as running mate, despite strong opposition from other geopolitical zones, instead of commending Ohaneze, as a frontline member of the PDP whose party was bound to get block votes from Igbos because of the Ohaneze endorsement, Umahi was the first person to oppose the Ohaneze action as well as Peter Obi’s candidature. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- When Umahi continued to oppose Peter Obi, Obi reportedly went to him to plead with him. Umahi asked him to come to the Governors Forum which Peter Obi did. It was even alleged that Peter Obi knelt down before the Igbo governors as he tried to persuade them not to miss a golden opportunity for Igbo presidency as Atiku promised to stay in office for four years and hand over to his Igbo vice president.
Peter Obi was even said to have agreed to step down as Atiku’s running mate to be replaced by any other Igbo person, provided an Igbo person was seconded to Atiku. In spite of all this, Umahi refused to endorse Peter Obi and insisted that Atiku came personally to apologize to the Governors Forum for not consulting the Igbos before he picked Peter Obi as running mate. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
I asked myself, Atiku coming to apologize for what?
When Zik of the NPP chose Prof Ishaya Audu from the North as running mate, did Zik consult the Hausa-Fulani or Northern Governors Forum?
When Ibrahim Waziri of the GNPP chose Dr. B. U. Nzeribe as running mate, did Waziri first ask the Igbos?
When Awolowo of UPN chose Barrister Philip Umeadi as running mate, did Awo consult the Igbos?
When Aminu Kano of PRP chose Mazi S. G. Ikoku as vice, did Aminu discuss with the Igbos?
When Shagari of NPN chose Dr. Alex Ekwueme, did Shagari ask Igbos for their consent?
Did Abiola of SDP consult the north when he chose Kingibe or Tofa of NRC seek approval from Igbos before picking Syvester Ugo?
More recently, when Obasanjo chose Atiku as vice, did he consult the Fulani?
When Yar’ Adua chose Goodluck Jonathan, did he consult the Ijaws or South South zone? And when Jonathan chose Sambo, did he consult the north?
In the current regime, did Buhari consult the Yoruba before choosing Osibanjo?
Also under the military, when General Buhari chose Idiagbon as deputy, did he consult the Yoruba? And when IBB chose Ebitu Ukiwe as deputy, did IBB take permission from Igbos. Or when he later chose Aikhomu, did he go begging Edo people?
In all previous regimes in this country both military and civilian, we have never heard of any presidential candidate consulting other tribes before choosing their deputies.
- During Peter Obi’s campaign, there were only five Peter Obi campaign billboards in the entire Ebonyi state. But not a single of them was sponsored by Umahi administration. The entire five were funded by Sam Egwu and friends. In other regions, the party from which a presidential or vice presidential candidate comes takes major lead in campaigning for their party member. Yet, Umahi’s junior brother is the South East chairman of the PDP. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- As obtains in other places, there was no reception to support Atiku and Peter Obi ticket in the South East, so that Igbos can have strong say in his administration which should have been the onus of Umahi as chairman of Igbo governors forum where PDP is majority. But he did not. And he says he loves the Igbos.
It was Ugochukwu Agballah who used the Igbo Improvement Union of which he was National president to organize a grand reception for Peter Obi which was attended by many Igbo leaders, traditional rulers and others including Jim Nwobodo, Iwuanyanwu and others. I am not sure any of the Igbo governors went to the function and if any of them came, it was not Umahi. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- Since its formation, Igbos have benefitted from PDP in many capacities, including 5 Senate presidents, deputy Senate President, Deputy Speaker, Chief of Army Staff, I. G. of police, Secretary to the Federal government, twice PDP National chairman, twice PDP national secretary, Vice Presidential candidate and Ministers and Chairman of high ranking ministries and parastatals. What has APC done for Igbos, that now makes Umahi decamp to the party to get justice for Igbos? Sheer self-deceit.
All these positions were made possible by previous South East leaders of the PDP at zonal and State levels. Now that the Umahis are in control of South East PDP, it is their task to secure PDP Presidential ticket for South East. Why is Umahi running away from the party? And I ask, who is pursuing who?
- That reminds me. There were allegations, true or false, that for one week, there was heavy bombardment at Obigbo in Rivers State. I expected Umahi as chairman of Igbo governors forum, to rush to Port Harcourt a day or two after the incident started, or even if he cannot go, call Wike on phone as a fellow governor to stop the carnage until the matter is discussed with a view to protecting the lives and property of the embattled Igbos in Obigbo. Umahi did not. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
When belatedly Umahi and his co-governors decided to visit Wike, after much persuasion by Igbos, Umahi went to Port Harcourt with a crowd of over 200 Igbos which made the meeting with Wike to be held in a large hall that was filled to capacity, turning what was supposed to be an important and serious peace meeting to a near political jamboree of sorts.
It was only Wike who showed he came for serious business, the way he kept thundering his points which turned out to be a one-sided account as none of the accused Igbo boys was there to tell their side of the story. When it was his turn to speak, it was both laughable and pitiable watching Umahi beaming with smiles that reflected little seriousness of purpose as he took the microphone and began to eulogize Wike as a great leader and announcing how many properties he has in Rivers State. My goodness! Umahi and his entourage ended up singing and dancing in praise of Wike.
Wike, Wike, Wike k’anyi g’eso…Ma ona eme mma ma ona eme njo Wike k’anui g’eso… Tragic isn’t it?
As Wike gazed at the dancers, he must be wondering what sort of Igbo leaders are these who have converted an otherwise serious and sensitive mission for peace and protection of Igbos to a musical concert. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- It is funny Umahi says he is going to APC to bring justice to Igbos. Funny indeed, when there are eminent Igbos in the APC like Ogbonnaya Onu, Ngige, Orji Uzor Kalu, Rochas Okorocha, Ken Nnamani and a host of others. So Umahi thinks that all these people are mere robots in the APC, and that what they are unable to do for Igbos, he has come to do. Poor Umahi. Just deceiving himself. Or seeking protection in APC from EFCC.
- When Peter Obi was chairman of South East Governors Forum, he achieved a lot for Igbos. If nothing else, when Ojukwu, a labelled rebel against the Federal government of Nigeria died, Obi was able to secure a state burial for him. I guess that if it were under present Igbo, they would quickly sent a letter to the Federal government branding Ojukwu a terrorist.
- When Chinua Achebe, also labelled rebel for contemptuously rejecting Nigerian national award over marginalization of the Igbos, Pete Obi secured a state burial for him.
- Today, poor Olisa Metuh is still languishing in the cell for years for receiving N400 million from Dasuki. Yet the man who gave Metuh the money is walking free. And Umahi says he has gone to the APC to seek justice for Igbos. Haba, Umahi!
- As a self-acclaimed lover of Igbos, Umahi is aware that the Ohaneze Ndigbo depends for survival on financial support from Igbo governors and other patriotic Igbos of means. My investigations shows that since he became governor and chairman of Igbo governors forum, Umahi has never personally or on behalf of his government supported Ohaneze financially. Only the governors of Anambra and Enugu States have been providing financial support to Ohaneze while Rochas Okorocha has built befitting secretariat for the organization in addition to establishing an international standard school for free education of Igbo children opposite Enugu airport. And Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- Look at IPOB. Actually, itt was not the Federal government that proscribed it. It was Umahi-led Igbo governors forum that first proscribed and labelled IPOB a terrorist organization. What the Federal government merely did was to provide required legal instrument to the proscription which Igbo governors lacked the knowledge to apply. But that is not the issue.
- Three weeks or so before the Igbo governors proscribed IPOB, they invited Nnamdi Kanu to a meeting at Enugu Government House. At the end of the meeting, as Kanu was about to enter the car that brought him, the governors called him back for a group photograph after which each of the governors took turns to take snapshot with Kanu. So then, how come the governors held a meeting with a terrorist, and even took photographs with a terrorist? A riddle you would say?
- When the menace of armed robbers became uncontrollable in the North, the Northern governors went to the Federal government and secured amnesty for convicted bandits who killed hundreds of people. Even captured members of the dreaded Boko Haram in the north were released and even sent on special rehabilitation course.
A similar instance took place in Benue where the most notorious criminal in the State, Terwase Akwaza, alias “Gana” was granted state pardon and was being escorted in a government convoy to be accorded a State House reception when he was killed on the way.
But over here, Igbo boys flaying flags and singing songs on the streets without arms were declared terrorists by their own governors led by Umahi. Yet Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- When Nnamdi Kanu was detained at Kuje prison, it was other Igbo leaders including Abaribe and Chidoka and non-Igbos like Fayose and Fani Kayode that visited him. Not one Igbo governor did for one day, including Umahi as chairman of Igbo governors. And he says he loves the Igbos.
When Uwazurike’s mother died while he was on detention, it was Uche Chukwumerije who fought to secure a bail for him to go and bury his mother. But when Nnamadi Kanu’s parents were to be buried, Umahi-led Igbo governors forum did nothing like Chukwumerije did. In fact, Umahi did not send one line of condolence message to the bereaved family. It was former chairman of South East governors forum, Peter Obi, Victor Umeh and others who were there. Yet Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- When the Senate and House of Representatives recommended the sack and replacement of serving service chiefs for ineffectiveness against insecurity in the country, a view shared by most irrespective of regions or political party affiliations, it was Umahi who rose in defense of the service chiefs even when he is aware that Igbos have long been complained about the exclusion of the South East in the list of service chiefs.
When Ihejirika was sacked as a service chief, how many northern governors protested? Did Umahi as then deputy governor of Ebonyi State oppose his sack? Yet Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- When the Inspector-General of Police established a new zonal police office in Anambra State, why other well-meaning Igbo politicians and non-politicians hailed the move and commended the I. G. of police for the additional security outfit in Igbo land, Dave Umahi raised fire and fury against the establishment of the new zone, declaring that his State would not recognize or patronize the new zone, and rather align with Calabar zonal police office. Yet Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
- Umahi exhibited the same divisive posturing during the Abakaliki Street renaming episode two years ago when he publicly threatened a reprisal by his government against Anambra residents and business people in Ebonyi State over a matter which he, as a sister governor, could have called his Anambra counterpart over the phone to discuss and resolve as colleagues and Igbo leaders. Thank God that Governor Obiano acted in a more mature and tactical manner behooving of a leader to calm and resolve the matter by promptly naming a longer street in a more strategic and popular area of Awka city after Abakaliki.
- Recall that Umahi as chairman of Igbo governors and therefore virtual leader of the opposition in South East, once had the gut to tell the world how he rented a crowd for the APC during an APC Presidential campaign rally at Abakaliki. Yet Umahi says he loves the Igbos.
Which proves that even if Umahi remains in PDP, there could have been no way the President could have made him president because they cannot trust him.
Let me say this. Umahi could have been one of the greatest Igbo leaders, especially in terms of good governance and solid record of achievements as governor of only he had shown interest in Igbo cause, lack of which totally rubbishes his record and claim of seeking justice for Igbos by joining the APC.
It also proves that Umahi formally moving to APC has nothing to do with Igbo interest or love for Igbos but purely a personal political agenda. Q. E. D.
Mazi Omife I. Omife