2023 Presidency: Umahi and the lamentations of a Betrayer-In-Chief!
Watching Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi bemoan his fate in the media alleging being betrayed by the rest of the delegates of the South East zone at the recently held Presidential primary election of the All Progressives Congress where he made ‘Igbos proud’ by at least polling the highest number of votes from the region aptly reminds one of the popular unknown quote: If you treat me like an option, I will treat you like a choice!
To his audience and sympathizers, Umahi’s book of unholy Lamentations Chapter 100:1, particularly for those who truly know him and his political pasts of betraying anyone who trusted him, the crocodile tears and hue cries of being betrayed shouldn’t have betrayed their expectations. I will return to this in more details shortly!
What first readily came to my mind after reading and watching the Governor speak at the Matriculation ceremony of King David University, Uburu was an article titled: Why Umahi should never be Nigeria’s President, written some two years ago by the CEO and Editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, Comfort Obi. In the celebrated piece, Obi had argued: If there is any Igbo man whose temperament and recklessness do not recommend for the dignified office of a President, it is Umahi. The Igbo must neither recommend, nor support him to aspire to that office. This Governor is a basket case when he speaks…”
The incisive article had been written when Umahi banned for life two Journalists for reporting issues in the State and a section of the Nigeria media who were outraged by the action of a supposed Chief Security Officer of a State declared him a ‘local pandemic’ in the midst of a global pandemic.
The fact remains that nothing, at all has changed in the conducts and carriage of the Governor and that he hoped to import to the national politics and stage just with trailer loads of Abakaliki rice, yams and of course loads of cash. In defecting to the APC in November 2020, Umahi had told his ‘landlords’- the old APC led inefficiently by his elder brother, Dr. Ogbonna Onu that he was happy to connect to the centre- a Party that has no particular general lording it all over it’s subjects.
Of course he knew he was staking his odds in a very dangerous river. He also knew the perception of Ndigbo in general about his character persona as an untrustworthy fellow who can sell his own to the Fulanis. In him therefore, the APC saw another Okorocha or Hope Uzodinma.
But the already-consumated marriage of inconvenience continued as though the Bunis of the north who received him into their fold were foolish and Umahi the wise one. Of course he had whimsically hinged his reason for defection on maltreatment of the Igbos by the PDP as though he was certain to pick the APC ticket.
Back to the betrayal accusations! It’s actually good to watch and read Umahi wail about being served the meal he has been serving others since the return of democracy in 1999. The Uburu born political Maradona who considers betrayal as ‘smartness’ has quickly forgotten how he started politics with betrayal of his immediate brothers from his small village and he needs to be reminded.
In 1999 when former Minister of Science and Technology, Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu ran for the Ebonyi State Governorship position, Umahi had been drafted into the campaign council (allegedly from his Brass oil ‘bunkering’ business in Portharcourt) to be part of the Onu campaign council. The later trusting him more than others from other parts of the State made him the Finance Director of the campaign organization.
Reports claim that it was at the point of delivering the money meant for some ‘sensitive security logistics’ that he disagreed with his elder brother, Dr. Onu and they parted ways. Umahi preferred to work for the emergence of Onu’s main opponent, Dr. Sam Egwu who eventually won the election. He since then continued to breeze in and paid increased interest in Ebonyi politics.
In 2007 when Dr. Onu declared interest to run again, he Umahi still pitched tents with Egwu’s preferred successor (believed to have been foisted on him), Chief Martin Elechi against his kinsman from Uburu. The abridged version of the story was that Uburu boiled and houses including his fuel station was burnt down by irate youths who felt aggrieved.
Following Elechi’s victory at the poll, Party’s stakeholders and elders including the outgoing government recommended that Umahi should be assisted to recover his loss by the new government. That was how he came into Elechi’s government as a Party Chairman in acting capacity after also receiving some cash through a contract job given him.
He then rose to become a running mate to Elechi and consequently a Deputy Governor and the same betrayal all played out again. In the build up to Elechi’s succession battle in 2014, the former Governor was quick to declare his support for former Minister of Health, Professor Onyebuchi Chukwu. Pretending he was no longer interested in the race, Umahi, banking who banked on his contacts at Wadatta plaza quickly deceived Elechi to pay him back the monies he was owed as a Contractor.
Elechi complied thinking they were now on the same page only for Umahi to use the monyto intensify his lobby for the Governorship position. The end result was that the hawks in the PDP National Secretariat eventually handed over the Party and it’s flag to him. He went on to win the 2015 Governorship election in Ebonyi.
In 2020 and sensing he may not fully be in control of the PDP again, Umahi saw the APC as his best bait. He betrayed the trust of millions of Ebonyians in the PDP who hauled abuses at their elders in the then opposition APC including Dr. Onu and Chief Elechi. He moved with only a few aides who wouldn’t endure the anthropogenic hunger and poverty he has made key policy trusts to retain loyalty in the State.
The rest stayed put in the PDP and the Party began rebuilding as an opposition Party. Today, both the PDP in Ebonyi and the Umahi who moved to connect a plug to the ruling Party at the centre (unknown to him the fuse has been taken away) are at a loss-loss situation. What is left are sad tales of regrets.
But whoever told Umahi that he would have been APC choice in the Presidential election actually equated him to a bird! Igbos know him and his antecedents too well to have supported and voted for him. The delegates from the rest of the other South East States knew that much too that for Umahi, they were mere options and therefore he deserved the treatment of a choice he got from them.
For a man who has allegedly refused to relinquish the position of the South East Governos Forum to his Enugu State counterpart since over two years now, how does he think the people can rally round him? And he has only been using the same position to advance his personal overambitious causes not that of Ndigbo.
For a man who was quick to encourage proscription of IPOB as a terrorist organization in a hitherto peaceful South East region, the people hates him and his antecedents. He couldn’t have pretended he never saw the bold handwriting on the wall. When Atiku chose Peter Obi over him in 2019, Umahi took an offence that he was not consulted and worked against the PDP in the Presidential election. He even betrayed a House of Representatives member from his Party, PDP by taking his seat and giving same to another in APC in a deal no one knows the terms.
If there was an official course to study in School called Betrayal 101, Umahi should be the Dean of the School. He is a man who betrays for a living! He should lick his wounds without dragging Igbos to his mud. Afterall, Peter Obi who’s antecedents are well known to Ndigbo is getting their massive support and even across Nigeria. He can now join the rest of Ndigbo and Nigerians to support an Obi Presidency if really he has the interest of the region at heart.
It mustn’t be him! It mustn’t be about cosmetic developments!! It mustn’t be about self and ego!!!
– Charles Otu, a political analyst wrote from Abuja, Nigeria