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Governor Dave Umahi: The long and winding road

Governor of Ebonyi State Dave Umahi

‘’As Nigeria’s most famous secular saint, Solarin puts it, we will repeat for Umahi. Umahi may your road be rough.’’

By Jimanze Ego-Alowes

TUE, 24 NOV, 2020-theGBJournal- Dave Umahi has a reputation of having performed/performing as Governor of Ebonyi State. Every once in a while clips of his achievements are circulated in the social media. In other words, he appeared in the public consciousness, at least of most Igbo, as someone deserving of higher assignments – politically speaking that is.

Perhaps, the fact of this has infested his ambitions, if not thinking. And just recently he showed this as he threw his cards face up. Umahi, a resident PDP top-notch and sitting governor is turning corner to join APC. Apparently, as stated by him, his movement was powered by the fact of his erstwhile PDP not having treated the Igbo well. It is nothing personal he reiterates.

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It might just as well be, though he stopped short of providing details or proofs. However it is commonly known that for many Igbo political operatives treating Igbo well is giving them a preference charge for the presidency. Umahi apparently belongs to this group. It was on this that he thus justified his largely ”personal” odyssey from PDP to APC. Yet, it is fair to state that for the greater majority of the Igbo there is little love for the presidency. What the Igbo like most Nigerians want, is really a restructured Nigeria. Such a Nigeria will give each citizen her best chance at becoming his best, for the good of all. That by the way is a topic for another day.

Certainly, one thing is curious in the Umahi voyage. According to Umahi, he is speaking and acting on behalf of the Igbo. However, it is public knowledge that of all or an overwhelming majority of his political peers in Ebonyi are not one with him on this. Not one senator or former governor is with him as he jumps ship. They have chosen to stay put and ride the waves with PDP.

The question then arises how can one who has postured as acting on behalf of his people, move without them, or a substantial number of his people. This is especially, to repeat, his political peers or near peers.

The answer if one is to conjecture could be as follows. PDP may for all practical purposes have been treating Igbo just badly. The PDP release by their publicity secretary comes short of a robust defense. It is not enough to state what or what not the Igbo have gotten. It is equally important to remind us what other comparative zones took away. Even more importantly, because Nigeria is run as a unitary system, all positions excluding the presidency may actually have been designed to play as humor mongers, court jesters. And it is on record that just about all the other zones including the South-South have had a cut at the dictatorship that is the Nigerian presidency.

Having said this it is important we stake PDP alongside the performances of APC – making allowances for APC’s shorter duration with presidential power. From what many have observed, there has not been a greater Igbo exclusionist philosophy party in Nigeria’s history as the APC, the APC at the Federal level. APC has deliberately – as policy – treated the Igbo as Siberia, a political and economic frosty outlier region. The details are too glaring if not frightening to recall.

However, one never knows. Politics is a real life drama where the impossible happens every once in a while. It is not out of the realms of imagination that APC for reasons beyond her may stage an Igbo a ”lame duck” presidency. That is, an Igbo man will be made a puppet president, run by the usual suspects, the puppeteers. And as is with any indigenous tribesmen, unfit and improper persons desperate for power will go for it.

One may justly recall that General Olusegun Obasanjo campaigned and got sworn in as president, under a constitution he and his peoples never sighted. For them what was important was the office, the appellation, not the power. And it showed. In fact one can guess that it was Obasanjo’s late realization that he has been cuckooed into presidential powerlessness, that drove his ambitions thereafter, possibly up until today. It was his dated realization that probably pushed him to seek being a full blown, self elected dictator. By this he was to occupy both office and power.

The move is usually characterized as the failed Obasanjo third term bid, which he denies. So an Igbo Obasanjo, a man in presidential office and not in presidential power cannot be discounted. Anyway, the Obasanjo presidency was a psychological balm for his Southwest people. So also was Goodluck Jonathan’s for the South-South. It is thus not unimaginable that such soothing emotional halo could come upon the Igbo as an Igbo extraction presidency happens.

This is where Umahi fits the bill. But he has denied in the wake of his defection that he has any interest in the presidency. Umahi would have been believable if he had not early ”sworn” that he will never join a party like APC. Now, he is eaten his words and has taken a chance with what he once spitted out. However, it is in order that we record that the Umahi act of swallowing his words is the common fare of the Nigerian politician. He is guilty not as a person, but as a member of a spineless class.

In all these one thing is clear. Umahi having chosen to go it alone, to be a lone ranger, a lone political wolf, has lost the moral ground of speaking for his Ebonyi people not to talk of the Igbo nation. Trudging alone, the Chinese warn, Umahi may go fast, but not far. Umahi ronu.

Well, as Nigeria’s most famous, if putative, secular saint, Tai Solarin, puts it, we will repeat for Umahi. Umahi may your road be rough. That is all we have to say. Ahaizuwa.

Jimanze Ego-Alowes (PhD) is Author and public commentator

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