Having lost the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket – which he really had no chance of winning – Dave Umahi, governor of Ebonyi State, has, once again, resorted to his tantrums against the Igbo nation and Ohanaeze Ndigbo in particular, his convenient whipping boy.
Of course, Umahi is no stranger to childish tantrums. Once his fragile ego is bruised, he begins to lash out. When, for instance, Justice Inyang Ekwo of the federal high court Abuja sacked him as governor, he threw caution to the wind, describing the Judgment as “jungle justice” and Justice Ekwo as “a hatchet man.” But of course, was forced to apologize to the NBA afterwards.
In Ebonyi where he governs like an emperor, he brooks no opposition, and not even criticisms are allowed. Journalists who write unfavorable reports are punished and sacked from the government house.
Umahi has been crying himself hoarse since losing the APC presidential ticket to Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He is enraged. For some reasons, he really believed that he could win the party’s ticket. A man whose ego is five times his height, there is truly nothing that his over-bloated sense of self worth doesn’t persuade him to believe.
He honestly believed that because he’s the governor of Ebonyi State, he could defect to the APC in 2020 and be handed the party’s presidential ticket in 2023, ahead of the likes of Tinubu, Rotimi Amaechi, Yemi Osinbajo and even Ogbonnaya Onu who had worked day and night to ensure that the party took power in 2015, and had been nurturing it ever since, because after all, it’s the turn of the Southeast to produce the country’s president “in the interest of justice.”
Admittedly, it is injustice to have denied the Igbo the presidential ticket of the ruling party, more so that of the PDP too and quite frankly, I felt for the likes of Amaechi and Onu who had invested so much in the party. It’s an injustice against the Igbo, perhaps even a conspiracy, and it was heartwarming that Onu stood like a man on the podium at the Eagle Square, Abuja and spoke truth to power. He called it what it is before President Muhammadu Buhari, and in the full glare of everyone at the venue of the primary election, dropped the microphone and went home like a man.
Onu did what a grown man with balls would do: speak truth to power. But evidently, Umahi is cut from a different cloth. Even when it was obvious that the plot to deny the Igbo the APC ticket had been sealed, Umahi failed to raise a finger at the Eagle Square. He couldn’t speak what might offend Buhari’s ears. He knew the usual targets of his tantrums when he fails to get what he wants, so he bottled his anger and waited till he returned to Ebonyi; to Igbo land, and then boom, he began to lash out.
Speaking during the matriculation ceremony of the King David University of Medical Sciences on Saturday, Umahi conveniently made the Igbo and Ohanaeze scapegoats for his defeat in Abuja, accusing Igbo APC delegates of ‘trading’ their votes.
He did not end there, he also tongue lashed Ohanaeze Ndigbo, and its president-general, Prof George Obiozor, an elder statesman whose shoes he couldn’t have been able to lace in an ideal setting, while also concluding that the Igbo should not complain about marginalisation again. Worse still, he made a dangerous attempt to put a wedge on the unity of the Igbo nation by attempting to set Ebonyi people against other Igbo from other states.
Hear him: “I have lost total confidence in the leadership of the Ohaneze Ndigbo socio-cultural organisation and will openly confront anyone who challenges the Ebonyi agenda.”
Perhaps Umahi’s Ebonyi agenda is to pull Ebonyi out of Igbo land, after all, there is nothing his mind doesn’t tell him. He has subsequently declared that ‘Ebonyi can never be part of Biafra,’ and that Obiozor, the Ohanaeze president, is no longer his president, a mischievous statement. The Igbo are never asking to leave Nigeria. This point has been made by Igbo leaders at every level, including governors and Ohanaeze. But Umahi wants to use the agitation by some deprived youths, a number of whom are from his state, to blackmail the rest of the Igbo nation.
Umahi apparently saw himself as the new leader of the Igbo. He was dead sure, before now, that he was the leader of Ndigbo, and that where he stands is where the Igbo must stand. That perhaps informed his eagerness to attack Ohanaeze every now and then. When his ‘boy’ was suspended for misbehaving as Ohanaeze youth leader, he was so enraged that he opted not to support the organization again. He never thought it wise to approach Ohanaeze leadership to resolve the issues. He is bigger than Ohanaeze, after all, he is governor.
But perhaps after losing the APC ticket, and failing to secure the votes of delegates of other Southeast states, he has suddenly realized that he is not the leader of Ndigbo after all. So, he may now want to isolate Ebonyi from the rest of Ndigbo and become their leader, since delegates from the state were the ones who gave him the 38 votes he scored in Abuja. He may not realize yet that he is a bit part player even in Ebonyi, and cannot speak for the great people of the state.
Umahi’s hubris did not start today. When in late 2020, he decided to join the APC in pursuit of his presidential ambition, he expected every Ebonyi stakeholder to scurry up to him in his new party and quickly pledge allegiance. Thus, when this did not happen, he declared war on everyone, including former senate president, Anyim Pius Anyim and one of his predecessors, Sam Egwu. He got more than he bargained for in the event.
There is no doubt that the generality of Ndigbo are dissapointed with the manner Igbo delegates voted, both in the APC and PDP primaries. They betrayed their people, and especially Ohanaeze Ndigbo which had made strenuous efforts in ensuring that the Igbo produce Nigeria’s president in 2023. The organisation, which Umahi, among others, have refused to fund, had tried hard to reach out to other sociocultural groups and the leadership of the two major Political Parties and groups across the country, and indeed succeeded in getting Southern and Middle Belt Forum( SMBLF ) comprising Afenifere, PANDEF, Ohanaeze Ndigbo and the Middle Belt Forum to speak in unison in favour of power shift to the South East. Sadly, the political actors who tend to be very selfish betrayed this effort.
The governors of Enugu and Abia, the two PDP governors in the Southeast, backed Wike for the party’s ticket. In the APC, Hope Uzodinma, among others who are the party leaders in their respective states had other ideas. This is a sad reality that everyone in the Southeast is upset about.
But having said that, Umahi cannot claim to be a victim of this self- centered nature of the political class. If anything, he represents the worst expression of it. Of a truth, if the decision of Igbo APC delegates could be termed as betrayal, it’s an act they learnt from Umahi who seems to be an expert in it. From his predecessor, Martin Elechi, to Peter Obi in 2019, he has betrayed others each time he had the opportunity. For him, it must always be him or pull the house down.
It’s utterly ridiculous that Umahi who openly opposed the choice of Mr. Peter Obi, a fellow Igbo as Atiku Abubakar’s running mate in 2019, preferring to be on the ticket, perhaps, and would subsequently actively work against the ticket, has now come to accuse the generality of Igbo people of betrayal over his loss at the APC primary.
One wonders what else Umahi expected Ohanaeze to have done to give him the APC ticket. It’s utter mischief to leave those who had the power to give you ticket and begin to attack Ohanaeze which has no such power. Indeed, it’s insanity.
Still, if not that he’s a man driven by selfish interest, he should have stayed back in the PDP and joined forces with other PDP governors in the Southeast, especially given that he is the chairman of Southeast governors’ forum, to push for a Southeast presidential candidate in the party. But, no, he opted to jump ship to the APC, hoping to reap where he did not sow, and while he was there, he began to tear Anyim down when it became obvious that he wanted to seek power on the platform of the PDP.
While he was tearing Anyim down, he did not remember that it should be about the Igbo, but now that he’s been betrayed by those he thought would give him Presidential ticket on a platter, maybe because he had settled enough, he has realised that it should be about the Igbo, or has he? Again I ask, what specific actions did Dave Umahi take to get Ohanaeze Ndigbo to support his Presidential ambition and that of other Igbo aspirants in the APC ? Maybe , it must always be about Umahi and Umahi only. He may have now decided that his agenda is Ebonyi agenda since he now knows that the Igbo world doesn’t revolve around him.
Going into 2023, Mr. Peter Obi has the Labour Party Presidential ticket. Let’s see if Umahi would support him since he believes it’s the turn of the Igbo, in the interest of equity and justice. Rather than insult the sensibilities of Ndigbo at this time, Umahi should brace up to offer explanations to Ebonyi people and the EFCC on how he wasted the resources of Ebonyi people in pursuit of an infantile presidential ambition.