Emmanuel Onwubiko: David, the peripatetic politician
It first dropped like a bombshell when a cocktail of political gossips swirled and ballooned about freely for weeks and then dropped as newspaper speculation.
This tale by moonlight is all about the then choreographed plot by the governor of Ebonyi State Mr. David Umahi to migrate from the People’s Democratic party (PDP), a party synonymous with the South East of Nigeria to the All Progressives Congress(APC) seen in some quarters in the South East of Nigeria as ‘Hausa/Fulani/Moslem’ party.
As these rumours were making rounds, the man himself who goes by the name Dave meaning beloved, the diminutive form of David, made strident efforts to deny the story that he plans to move to the All Progressives Congress- a party which produced President Muhammadu Buhari since 2015.
Recall that the President MUHAMMADU BUHARI IS THE first Nigerian President who in the history of politics in Nigeria, openly stated that he will distribute national wealth during his tenure in office to zones and States according to the votes he scored during the election from those areas of the Country. This warped and contrived position offends the Nigerian Constitution because for anybody to become a President, he must score both NEGATIVE AND POSITIVE VOTES.
Notwithstanding the unambiguous provisions of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, this erstwhile military ruler behaved like he has never read the Constitution because he indeed pull through with his 95 percentage and 5 percenters in the redistribution of wealth to the citizens. The President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is notorious for not doing anything significantly towards the infrastructures upgrade and advancement of the South East of Nigeria whereby Dave Umahi paraded about as the Chairman of the South East GOVERNORS forum.
So, the man himself at the centre of current political storms generated by his decision to jettison the party platform that gave him tickets twice to become the governor of Ebonyi State is well aware that his ill-informed decision to betray the People’s Democratic party will not go down well in a lot of places in the South East of Nigeria so he decided to play the regional mind game by blaming the failure of the People’s Democratic party to zone the 2023 Presidential slot to the South East of Nigeria from where no Executive President has ever emerged since October 1st 1960 that Nigeria got political or flag independence for his ‘POLITICAL CROSSOVER NIGHT’.
I think this politician, the son of Joseph Umahi Nwaze and Margaret Umahi of Umunaga, decided to reach for the ethnic card to try to justify his late entry to the All Progressives Congress. Unfortunately, he never thought that he has behaved through to the historicity and etymology of his name popularised by a certain Jewish Shepherd named David who like Dave Umahi later became King who was ordained by God but the Nigerian peripatetic politician Mr. David Umahi was anointed by the People’s Democratic party to assume leadership position, a party that he has betrayed to migrate into the All Progressives Congress, a political party whose leader Muhammadu Buhari openly threatened to deny the South East of Nigeria the rightful entitlements as bona fide citizens of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
So in his nature as a peripatetic politician, he betrayed the PDP which is a party that made him acting state chairman in 2007 while he was still in political wilderness after crossing over from self-employment.
From 2009 to 2011, he served as state chairman of the party. In 2011, PDP made him the deputy governor on a ticket with then-Governor Martin Elechi. In 2014, the PDP voted him as its candidate for governorship against the will of the then incumbent who had wanted the then health minister Oyiyebuchi Chukwu, a Professor to succeed him as governor in 2015. By now, the PDP is regretting that error of judgment of granting her flag to Dave Umahi who has now abandoned them for a juicier personal political project in the APC which he unsuccessfully and deceptively attempted to blame on the marginalization of the South East of Nigeria by the PDP.
So, Umahi decided to embrace ethnic card to try to demonize the political party that made him a significant politician from the wilderness of self-employment as head of an engineering firm with nothing to show.
We will shortly read that ethnic card he played.
But first, let us say that he also decided to behave like a masquerade who would wait for a ‘John the Baptist’ to herald his joining his newly found political family of All Progressive Congress.
So he found a willing tool. He went for the Chairman of the Revenue Mobilization Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mr. Elias Mbam, who himself migrated from PDP that made him a Federal Cabinet minister and Chairman of the Revenue Commission before he managed to secure a second term from Muhammadu Buhari after a year that he wandered hope in the wilderness of political uncertainty. Indeed his reappointment was even announced by the then acting President Yemi Osinbanjo when President Muhammadu Buhari was in a London hospital.
So Chief Elias Mbam, who prefers to be called a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ebonyi, was procured to publicly urge Gov. Dave Umahi to move ahead with his plans to defect to the APC.
Mbam, also Chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Abakaliki.
He was reacting to a meeting held between the governor and some APC stakeholders on Sunday, in Uburu, in Ohaozara Local Government Area (LGA) of the state preparatory to his defection to the party.
Mbam said that the decision was a welcome development saying that the state, as well as the South East would benefit from the defection.
He said that the South East had nothing to show for its numerous support for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since the return to civil rule in 1999.
Mbam said that the APC-led Federal Government has shown commitment towards developing infrastructure in the South-East, adding that it was time politicians in the zone moved to APC en-masse.
“The major stakeholders in our party met with the governor and he told us why he wanted to leave his party for the APC; part of the reasons was the need for South East to be part of the government at the centre.
“He stressed the need for the zone to collaborate with the North and that if we do that; we will be able to get what we have not been able to get since 1999.
“Since 1999, PDP has been in control in Ebonyi and other states in South East, yet the party has not found one person worthy of flying its flag and we don’t even have any hope that it would happen soon,” Mbam said.
He said that the APC led federal government does not accord much recognition to the South East, hence the need for the zone to join the ruling party in order to become relevant to the government.
He said that Ebonyi needed to join the ruling party in order to be present where major decisions were being taken.
“We want to lead a campaign where the South East will become more relevant at the centre; Umahi’s move is a commendable decision, it’s good for our state and Igbo people.
”The best way to be represented in a meeting is to be present where major decisions are taken and if Ebonyi is not present at the centre, certainly it will affect what we get from there,” he said.
The RMAFC chairman said that Umahi’s defection to APC would further strengthen the unity of the party in the state and reposition it towards capturing the governors seat in 2023.
After the carefully choreographed procured outcry laced with numerous half truths and falsehoods, to join APC by the Elias Mbam – led motley crowd of hired praise singers, the man himself who had earlier denied that he wanted to migrate away from his party to APC, confirmed the much-circulated story of his defection.
And so it came to pass that the Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi said he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) because the PDP had failed the people of the Southeast.
He said he had no regrets defecting from the party, adding that it was based on his conviction and avowed commitment to the interest of the geo-political zone.
Umahi explained that he defected because of the injustice against the Southeast by the PDP.
The governor spoke with reporters in Abakaliki, the state capital, on the controversial defection to the ruling party at the centre.
He clarified that his defection was not premised on any deal with the APC on the contentious subject matter of presidential zoning to the region in 2023.
Justifying his defection, Umahi said: “I want to clear the air that I never sought for the PDP presidential ticket and I will not. So, whoever said that I moved to the APC because they refused to zone the ticket to me is being very mischievous.
“Even if PDP promises somebody presidential ticket, how does it work when over 8,000 delegates will be voting. And such a promise cannot happen with more than 10 or 20 people. So, people are being very mischievous about that.
“There are a lot of qualified persons from the Southeast. Some people say I was promised lots of things by the APC. There was no such discussion. APC never promised me any position. They never promised Southeast any position.
“However, I offered this movement as a protest to injustice being done to the Southeast by the PDP. Since 1999, the Southeast have supported the PDP. At a time, the five states were all PDP. One of the founding members of the PDP was from Southeast, the late former Vice President Dr Alex Ekwueme.
“It is absurd that since 1999, going to 2023, the Southeast will never be considered to run for the presidency under the PDP. And this is my position and it will continue to be my position. It had nothing to do with me or my ambition.”
Umahi said he would continue to agitate for the interest of the Southeast in and out of office.
He said he has decided to become the sacrificial lamb that would be crucified for the interest of the zone.
The governor rejected the notion that he was driven by selfish reasons, maintaining that he was protesting the non-zoning of the presidential slot to the Southeast.
He said the PDP is yet to give reasons why the Southeast is unfit for the Presidency.
Umahi said the region is at liberty to agitate for the presidential slot, stressing that the crusade is legitimate.
However, he said despite his defection to the APC, he would not castigate the PDP, which has refused to toe the path of equity and fairness.
The governor who emphasised that he had not declared interest in the presidency said he may even quit politics in 2023.
He said his involvement in 2023 would be limited to building support for a presidential candidate of Southeast origin.
On the reaction by the PDP that it was not yet time to consider zoning, the governor said the party was being economical with the truth.
Umahi stressed: “In 2015, PDP had zoned the next presidential slot to the North against 2019. Then, the executive statement in Bauchi that the presidential slot is open to all parts of the country and the overtures and scheming to remove most members of the National Working Committee, these are some of the indications that the party has no intention of zoning it to the Southeast”
“The point is very simple. In 2023, I would have been in PDP between 23 and 24 years and Southeast never really supported APC the way they are supporting PDP and in that 2023, they would have been eight years in office. But, it would have been about 23 years going.
“I believe strongly that the will of God will come to play. But, I believe that APC is amenable to working with Southeast from all indication. It is amenable and I also believe that until justice and equity is implanted in this Nigeria, it is difficult for Nigeria to make progress.”
Onu, who expressed optimism at the enlargement of the APC’s coast in the Southeast, said: “We have one governor now and we are working so that by 2023, we will have five governors. We are very optimistic. We have the people and whatever problem we have, we will resolved them.”
The minister said APC should also work hard to win the senatorial by-election in Imo North Zone.
On Umahi’s defection, former Senate President Ken Nnamani said: “it is a work in progress. Our party is a moving train. We are ready to pick anybody that wants to join us. We are expecting not only governors but everybody.
“Our gate is wide open for any person who loves to move in. We are expecting more people. There are many large rooms in our party. For those who are ready to join, the train of APC is already moving.”
The PDP understandably are not happy. Already Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has accused the Ebonyi State governor of blackmailing the PDP just to fulfil his long known affinity to the APC.
I think the governor of Ebonyi State has by this betrayal of the political platform that brought him into relevance shown that he can not be trusted and that he lacks political loyalty and stability and that indeed as a politician, he suffers from credibility deficits. Why enjoy all those privileges from PDP only to betray them with a jaundiced explanation that does not hold water. The decision of Dave Umahi to quit his party does not represent the position of Ndigbo on PDP. He is on a self-anointed gambit for political aggrandizement and so should be told to shut up and stop dragging South East of Nigeria along in his political adventure. What he did by moving to APC remains a big-time betrayal of trust and is absolutely intolerable since nobody was driving him out of PDP but he simply displayed his true colour as a political saboteur whilst he was in PDP. David Umahi is a peripatetic politician. I apply the word Peripatetic not in the manner that the apostles of Aristotle are called because Aristotle and his followers are highly principled but this one in Nigeria has no qualms abandoning ship and casting needless aspersions on the political party that fed him and gave him power, might and wealth.
*EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO is head of the HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA) and [email protected] theingerianinsidernews.com, www.huriwanigeria.com.