In this interview with LEADERSHIP, commissioner for Information and State Orientation in Ebonyi state, Barr. Orji Uchenna Orji, says the state governor, David Umahi who has declared his intention to run for President under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC), stands a better chance to clinch the party’s ticket among other contestants.
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has declared his intention to contest the presidency of the country in 2023. In view of others such as Bola Tinubu, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo that have shown interest to run under the All Progressives Congress (APC) what will be the chances of Governor Umahi?
Let me say that power belongs to God. The governor as a very committed member of the APC believes that it is the decision of the APC leadership and entire structure through the delegate election that will decide who becomes the president. What is very important at the moment is to look at the track records of those who are contesting for the president because at this time in our history we cannot afford to disappoint Nigeria and Nigerians. I say this because over the years we have been complaining about lack of performance, lack of good leadership, issues of job creation and creating the environment for private sector participation in the development of our nation. We are also talking about how to improve on the wonderful strides of President Muhammadu Buhari, how to get a square peg in a square hole and a round peg in a round hole that will continue where Mr. President will stop in 2023.
We should be thinking about somebody that has got the performance credential, the passion, the zeal and the energy.
And I can say that within the APC we have people who have declared, but looking at the track records of all of these people, one can say that Governor Umahi has very bright chances of becoming the candidate of the APC.
You have painted a glowing picture of the governor’s track records in your state. Can we compare it to some of the other big weights vying for the party’s ticket?
Who becomes what at any point in time has two major factors. One- God Almighty who is in heaven and thus controls our doings, and two- the people themselves. I can tell that if you look at the history of those that have become president, it is not all about struggling, it is not about how rich you are or how connected you are, it is all about the favour of God through men who God is using to put people on board and we do hope that this case will not be an exception.
The people who God will use to anoint someone, God will use the same people to anoint who becomes the president. It is our prayer and hope that that will favour the Governor of Ebonyi state, it does not matter that the person is not the richest, what matters is that God sees the heart of everyman and knows what is the yearning of the people of this country.
Like Emir Sanusi would say, 2023 is a defining moment in the area of insecurity, is a defining moment in the area of giving the people effective and efficient leadership and if we don’t get it right in 2023, it is going to spell doom to the unity and collective existence of this country.
The party has talked about the zoning formula and from all indications, the North is taking the position of the national chairman of the party and the South is taking the presidency. South east is one of zones in the south that has not had a shot at the presidency. What will you say to those from other parts of the south angling to become president?
The issue of zoning of revolves between North and south and it is looking at critical national positions, which includes that of the president of the federal Republic of Nigeria. But in all of these things and considering the real essence of nation building, it is important that equity, morality and equality be brought on board to determine where next it goes as it has come to the south. Looking at the scenario in 1999, somebody became president from southwest, by God grace through the instrumentality of men. And the person served for eight years.
And power had to return to the north if not for some eventualities that made somebody from south- south to be president. And now, by the good judgment of Mr. President and by his effective judgment as the leader of the APC, we are beginning to see a sign that the APC will zone the presidency to south.
What it entails is that the APC leadership believes in equity and what it means is that it has to trickle down. There has to be effective equity in the south. That is to say now that we have a region that produced the president for eight years and coupled with the fact that the current vice president is also from that region, and coupled with the fact that the immediate past president is from the south-south, it is only fair and equitable, morally speaking that south east be considered.
But when people have confidence and hope that with time they will have opportunity of showing their ability and capability, it will heal a lot of wounds. Based on that you can see that prominent Nigerians are saying that it is only good for the south east to produce the president. APC has done the needful and we commend them.
We are therefore challenging other parties to be very sincere to themselves to show sincerity of purpose by being decisive the way the APC has done by zoning the national offices of their party and giving indication that the Presidency is going to the South.
Once the presidency comes to the south as we are expecting, the needful will be done. And we believe that the people of Nigeria, will have to say south east it is your turn; let us see what you can do.
The issue of Ebubeagu appears to be a constraint that elements in the state are using to perhaps scuttle the chances of the governor. How is he handling this issue and insecurity in the south east?
Let me say that Ebubeagu is one of the best things that has happened to Ebonyi State. The Ebubeagu came as a result of agitation in the south east. Ebubeagu came because of the call that the entire security outfits of each state should have a commonality of effect just like we have in the south west.
Before the constitution of Ebubeagu, we have had what was called neighborhood watch and in its function and duties is the same thing as what we are seeing with Ebubeagu except that in the case of Ebubeagu we had to further strengthen the laws to ensure that the collaboration between Ebubeagu and the conventional security outfits is enhanced. The collaboration between the Ebubeagu of Ebonyi State and Ebubeagu of other states is enhanced and that is the very reason for the existence of Ebubeagu in South East.
Following the resolution of south east Governors and leaders of south east that is the Owerri Accord, Governor Umahi had to take the bull by the horn being the chairman of the south east governor’s forum by renaming the security outfit Ebubeagu and it goes to show that the governor is proactive, effective and responsible as a governor who does the yearning of the people of the south east.
Now, who are the people castigating Ebubeagu? They are opposition elements who do not know the rudiments of politics and what opposition is all about. When the governor entered into APC they cried foul, the first thing they did was to name him Fulani, Hausa and everything just to give a dog a bad name perhaps.
Today, when they have seen that that blackmail did not succeed they raised the issue of Ebubeagu being a militia. But that is by the way. The issue is that these opposition elements were part of the nomination of Ebubeagu at the time it was called neighborhood watch. But because they have seen a sense of self-rejection in their states some of them are in the National Assembly as PDP lawmakers, their plan to have automatic ticket is failing, and then they started using the media platforms to castigate Ebubeagu.
Let me tell one thing, Ebonyi State is the safest state among the states of the south east, the state government is known for its engagement power, engaging even the non state actors, and stakeholders at all levels to ensure that there is security in our place.
Today, even on Mondays, we go on our normal businesses and Ebubeagu is contributing to the peace that we are seeing, to the security that we are seeing. If you go to Ebonyi State in the evening, you can be sure that no matter your position, you can walk around in the evening and you are not molested. Apart from pockets of hit –and- run kind of attack by people that we perceive could be elements who are being funded by opposition; we have got no problem about violent attacks in the state the way we are seeing in other parts of the south east.
The governor joined the APC just about a year ago, won’t that affect his chances of picking the party’s ticket?
Let me say that qualifications to be a candidate of any political party are provided in the constitution of the party. Beyond that there are virtues that you need to cultivate to be selected or to be chosen. One of them is loyalty, membership that is committed and up to date and of course track records of performance as well as marketability of a person.
In the case of our governor, he has up to date membership, he is loyal, he is committed, he is one of the best governors, one of the shining stars that people trust that can make all the difference. So, we leave the decision to the party hierarchy. We also leave the decision to God who raises people to do things in the interest of the people.