The Governor of Ebinyi State, Dave Umahi has met with President Muhammadu Buhari and informed him of his interest in contesting the Presidency of Nigeria in the next year, 2023 election.
Umahi, who answered Reporters’ questions shortly after a private meeting with the President at the Presidential villa, Abuja today, January 11, “I told Mr. President, that without prejudice to whatever will be the decision of the party, which we shall abide by, that if the party throws the ticket open or zoned it to southern part of Nigeria, that I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I will be running for Presidency, on the platform of APC.
“So, I told him and of course, he believes that whoever wants to run for president of this country must have to consult widely; go to all the leaders and that we must do everything to remove ethnicity and religion in our politics, so that this country can grow.”
On whether he had made his intention to run known to Ohaneze Ndigbo, the Ebony State Governor insisted that Ohaneze leadership should not play politics.
“Yes, they can speak for the interest of the south East, they can speak for fair treatment to south East as people, but as a matter of equity, justice and fairness, and leaving a level playing field for all the political parties and the aspirants. “They should not dabble into politics or whom to support or whom not to support. I think that they hear it just like they heard other political parties aspirants.
“We will also write them to notify them that yes, they have culpable sons and daughters that if God wills, that could do this job.”
The Governor said that he had chosen to first consult with President Buhari before going ahead to consult others across the Southeast and the country in general.
“I wouldn’t have done that without first come in to clear with Mr. President that there is this feeling in South East that have not been President and that people feel that those of our leaders in the various political parties should indicate interest to contest. And this is fair, this is important. But at the end of the day, it is God Almighty and the political parties that will decide.”
Umahi said that he is not going to contest the Presidency with anybody, but with himself, believing the saying by Samuel in the Holy Bible that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belongs to Go and that he chooses whomever he wills and he will do that in 2023.
Parts of the answers to the questions are reproduced here:
Q: Why are you here (in the Presidential villa)?
Ans: Thank you very much gentlemen of the press.
Recall that in September, I came to see Mr. President to invite him to Ebonyi state to commission some of our completed projects, and lay foundations stones for some of our ongoing projects, especially the Ebonyi State International Airport.
But while we were in Paris together, I asked him to defer the visit to the first quarter of 2022, which he graciously approved for me. So today, I came to re-invite him to commission numerous projects in Ebonyi State in South East for March 15, 2022. So, we are working on that.
I also briefed the President on the ongoing international airport of Ebonyi State of which I requested for his assistance, it’s taking due process. And I believe that Mr. President, if he finds merit in it, will definitely assist us to purchase airport equipment to enable us commission the airport about the end of May 2022.
Q: What is President Buhari going to see when he comes to Ebonyi State?
Ans: First and foremost, it is not fair to ask what he is coming to see because I’m sure you you know what Mr. President is coming to see.
We have completed 13 twin flyovers, each one going between 300 meter length to 500. We are doing the next flyovers. We have completed a mall that is not like any other mall in the entire West Africa. We’ve completed the best university in this country, which we tagged, University of Medical Sciences, with all the Center of Excellence in it.
You have the artificial bed there, the best eye center, the cancer center, the liver center, kidney transplant center, the heart surgery center. And so, the center is the best of its kind in the whole of Africa.
Mr. President, will also be commissioning very uncommon flyover complex, which he laid the foundation stone of. And this flyover is quite complex, and it’s called President Buhari’s flyover tunnel.
Mr. President will also see the first airport in West Africa whose runway is being constructed with concrete. Mr. President will also be seeing the three industrial clusters. Mr. President will be seeing the biggest international market in the West Africa. Mr. President will be seeing a lot of over 500 kilometers of completed eight inches concrete roads. Mr. President will be seeing a lot of agric projects in the state completed, fertilizer plants and so on and so forth.
Q: Your plateau state colleague told reporters that you were going to have a meeting on Sunday on party convention but it didn’t hold. Are the APC governors likely to meet as regards the party’s convention? Is the February date still realistic for holding the APC national convention?
Ans: I am not Mr. President who must have the final say on the date for convention. And I don’t believe that the governor you mentioned should have spoken for the party. Because if it is APC governors forum, we have a leader; the chairman who is His Excellency, the governor of Kebbi State. He wasn’t even aware of the meeting when I called him. And if it is the party administration, we have His Excellency, the governor of Yobe state. And I think these two would have been able to speak to the press, if we’re going to have such a meeting on Sunday. So I was not aware but I had to inquire from the chairman of APC Governors Forum who wasn’t also aware. So I’m not sure the meeting held.
“But I read in a newspaper sometimes when the party leadership came to brief Mr. President, and they told him February convention. Mr. President said yes. He is not a man that says yes and says no at the same time. He is a man of integrity. He is a man of his words. So I believe that if he ever said February that he is going to stick to that February. I am very sure of that but it is for him to speak or for the party leadership to speak. I speak for my state.
Q: What is Umahi Presidency bringing on board?
Ans: Yeah. God willing, and if it’s the wish of the people of this country, Umahi’s presidency, will be looking at the same thing we did in Ebonyi state. Before we came on board, we were a state written off: we had nothing to write home about infrastructure. But I must commend the first two civilian governors Dr. Sam Egwu and Chief Elechi, they did quite a lot, because they came in the midst of the dust of the nation, Ebonyi State. And so they had quite a lot of challenges.
So I can say that they laid the foundation upon which I started to build. And so there are a lot of things that we have done in Ebonyi.
We have the best government house. You can see anyway, we have the best EXCO chamber and the largest you cannot see anyway. And so we intend to replicate the same thing. And I believe that with the little resources we have and people have been asking us how did you do it? Or how do you do it? And it’s all about patriotism. It’s all about fear of God. It’s all about bringing in our experience to bear. I have been into construction since I graduated. So I have a lot to give in terms of how to run government as business because you have to have the heart to help the people and that’s what we’ve demonstrated in Ebonyi.
So, we want to treat the nation, if God permits, that what we’ve done becomes a microcosm of the macrocosm, of which we expect.
We also believe strongly that we’ll be able to continue with what Mr. President has done. One of the greatest problems we have in this country is ethnicity, religion and unpatriotic features of a lot of people. And I think that there is a need to engage starting from where Mr. President would have stopped.
Let me also add that as the chairman of South East governors forum, that I support a political solution to our insecurity problems in south East. And of course, I mentioned it to Mr. President.
You see, political solution does not terminate the judicial process. And if you know, Mr. President, very well, he has always said, and has always demonstrated that he wouldn’t interfere with any judiciary process, everybody knows him for that.
But you remember very well, that if agreement is reached between parties, you don’t expect Mr. President to be the negotiator, there are a lot of federal, government officials.
And so I believe strongly that as South East is proposing political solution, they should be able to engage the federal government.
After all, there’s always what is called out of court settlement, but it is for our people, and, our brother (Nnamdi) Kanu to be willing for us to truly engage so that we can find true peace in our region. Because, the activities there have destroyed, a lot of the economy of southeast a lot of lives have being lost. And when we were shouting it that it wasn’t going to benefit, because agitation shouldn’t have gone the way it did.
Today, the matter has gone beyond them. You know, every criminal: kidnapper, armed robber tend to claim IPOb and IPOB in turn is fighting them. But I think it is late. So we desire peace, we desire to save the lives of our people. And so we are willing to engage, to see that we have, you know, an amicable settlement. And you know, rebuild the economy of south East.
Q: What will be the starting point of your engagement?
Ans: You see the leaders of south East, of course, not all of them, they must be selected leaders, and there is already Ohaneze and Chief Mbazurike is already in the forefront, and we can find true peace in our region. They have always been briefing me and so I’ve joined them together without this governors. So that could be the starting point, and we will be able to know what we want; we we want peace. And so there are things we must give up in order to acquire that peace.
Because if we are not being fairly treated, and some people feel we are not being fairly treated, we should be able to, you know, constructively show to the federal government, the areas we think that we are not being fairly treated, not through hate speeches, not through violence. I don’t believe in these things, you know, because even in homes, in families, you know, the wife or husband or children, will still have one thing or the other against the family, but they should be able to discuss.
Q: Did you share your thoughts with the President. What really what his response, was he forthcoming?
Ans: If you listen to me very well, Mr. President has never been in disagreement for peace, or anything that will bring peace. But you must allow him for what he believes in and for his pedigree and integrity, not to interfere with the judiciary, but it is up to us because the byproduct of our discussion and negotiation is such that we can now go to the court and seek for out of court settlement, and whatever is the agreement becomes the settlement of the court.
So I believe strongly that a political solution, would be far better than the process which may last for very long time.