Since his shocking, yet predicted defection from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), things have not been smooth for the workaholic Governor of Ebonyi state, Engr. David Nweze Umahi.
The rumour of his defection was there many months before November 19, when it eventually happened. But due to his infrastructural development strides in the state, he was already famed as ‘bride” of the media; and so his jumping of ship could not be chastised much. However, considering the popularity of PDP in the South-east, pundits predicted hard times for him, as almost all stakeholders of Ebonyi politics did not only refuse joining him, but remained diehard PDP members. This engendered a sort of cold war, ongoing between him and them.
This cult followership which PDP enjoys in the geopolitical zone was why it may be difficult for him to maintain/sustain strategic influence on the political ecosystem of the state, as he did in the past six years. He is currently engaged in silent battles with Ebonyi political heavyweights in the calibre of former governor, and two-term serving Senator, Dr. Sam Egwu, former senate president and former SGF, Anyim Pius Anyim, former commissioner and two-term senator, Obinna Ogba, two-term serving House member, Hon. Iduma Igariwey, etc, to prove the true owners of the state.
And in a spell of what could be termed careless indiscretion, the governor complicated his issues when he raised alarm that these caucus are cultists, and are sponsoring IPOB to cause insurrection in Ebonyi. This compelled Sen. Anyim to pen down a devastating 10-page disclaimer tagged “Open Letter To Gov. Umahi” against the allegation, copying the I.G of police, the D.G of DSS, etc.
Part of the fallout of his lone departure from PDP are some news that have been emerging which seem to be confirming the feelers that back home, Umahi may have it tough in coming years. Immediately after his defection, It was alleged that while he can easily be voted for the best performing governor award anywhere, he awarded the contracts of many of those projects to his own company, contrary to the Public Procurement Act.
And just as that allegation was dying down, there emerged the unpalatable news of him gifting more than 300 25kg bags of rice to a director in a federal ministry in Abuja, during the Yuletide. The driver conveying the goods was said to have ‘missed’ his way and landed at the office of Brekete Human Rights Organization. The founder and director of the non governmental of, the irrepressible Ahmed Isah, took hold of the goods.
The organization which owns the Human Rights Radio 101.5 FM Abuja (popularly called Hembelembe radio) went viral with the act. Though, no one knew what happened at the back stage, but from December 29, the radio by its programs indicated that the governor is at loggerheads with Ahmed Isah over the source and whereabouts of the consignment.
As the radio station is escalating the scandal, a group known as Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) released a statement that it is an obloquious opprobrium on the part of the governor to misappropriate government fund and divert Christmas bounty to satiate his selfish political ambition while Ebonyi masses continue to live in hunger and abject penury.
In fact, this is the full gist as reported by Daily Independent: “A non-governmental group, Association of Ebonyi State Indigenes in Diaspora (AESID) has condemned a recent viral video of a truckload of rice purportedly sent by the Ebonyi State government to Human Rights Radio, Abuja.
The group expressed shock and displeasure at the incident in which the items said to be meant for a serving Federal Director as Christmas largesse were mistakenly taken to the radio station. In the video, the distressed driver of the truck who conveyed the items from the state capital in Abakaliki was seen lamenting that his payment for the delivery was stalled because he delivered the rice to the wrong address.
A situation that made the head of the radio station, Ahmed Isah, promise to buy up the goods if the state government comes up to make a claim. Isah, popularly called “Ordinary President”, offered to pay the driver N50, 000 for the delivery and expressed disappointment in the state government gift of 300 bags of branded 25kg rice to just one rich individual when poor civil servants in the state are living in abject poverty.
However, in a reaction through a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja, its President Amb. Pascal Oluchukwu said his group is troubled by what he described as “uncommon but shameful Father Christmas behaviour of Ebonyi State Governor, Engr. David Umahi and his aides.”
The group said the action has betrayed every logic of compassion “How Ebonyi state government would give out less than 5kg bags of rice per two civil servants in some cases and one bag of the same less than 5kg in others to its workers but sent a massive 300 bags of rice to just a single director in the federal civil service who ordinarily can afford what to eat this yuletide.
“We also recall that the same Governor Umahi promised civil servants N10, 000 each as their Christmas bonus. We reliably gathered the promise is yet to be redeemed as at the time of going to press.” – culled from independent.ng
While that was still raising dust, the same Berekete organization is receiving and treating reports of human rights abuses and high-handedness in office against the Governor from Ebonyi indigenes.
This was also coming on the heels of a panic situation in Abakaliki during the new year festivities, where herders and the natives were said to be at daggers-drawn against each other, following a case of mob action against the herders in their settlement at Abakaliki. The governor acted swiftly and convened an emergency security meeting of the state in which he dismissed the video which validated the news as ‘fake’ while pacifying the Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) that Ebonyi is a peaceful place for all.
All these stories and complaints were not heard until he started acquiescing Aso Rock and eventually cross-carpeted. So bye and large Gov. Umahi’s life after joining APC has portrayed the central character of the book by Prof. Anezi Okoro titled “One week one trouble.” It has been one trouble after another for the number one citizen of Ebonyi state; a chain of unsettling callous spells of events.
Even in his new APC abode, the governorship flag bearer of the party in 2019, Sen. Sunny Ogbuoji (as reported by Nations newspaper) released a statement recently, threatening fire and brimstone against Umahi’s sinister move to control the party in the state.
It leaves to be seen if his new-found friends in APC will save him from the quagmire, else he is at the brink of losing grip of his people — an indication that his defection might end up a miscalculated political adventure. The days ahead could be more revealing.
Ogechukwu writes from Abuja.