The governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, has expressed the hope that someone with a “good heart” like President Muhammadu Buhari will emerge as his replacement in 2023.
This is even as he noted that it is too early to engage in the politics of 2023 as he observed that it is a distraction in the president and state governors.
The governor, who fielded questions from correspondents after a visit to President Buhari at the presidential villa, Abuja on Monday, also noted that members of different political parties from the South-East are working within their parties to ensure that they concede their presidential tickets to the region.
Asked whether South-East leaders were working to get the main political parties to zone the presidency to the region, he said: “Well, for me, I’m very much entrenched in completing my projects. And I will look into politics when my tenure is remaining one year, which is from May 29 2022. And I think it is the same thing with other governors of South-East and by extension, governors of APC.
“My position about what you ask is that our people that are in those political parties are making efforts in selling the need for South-East to produce the next president.
“But I think both the governors and Mr President should not be distracted. When the elections are done and won, it should be governance. But in this country, the moment the election is completed, the next one that starts is that the masses are being cheated.
“So, those whose job is politics and who are not into elected position, or appointed position have all the time and the opportunity to do this canvassing. And I think that they are doing it and doing it very well.
“But I continue to say that power rests in the hands of God. And God will also give us the next president who has good heart like President Buhari for the good of this country.
“We need God’s own anointing for our own anointed president, for the interests and unity of this country.”
The governor also regretted the effects of the sit-at-home order imposed by the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) on the economy of the South-East, saying, however, that fear is the major reason people stay away from their work and businesses.
According to him, people do not stay away because of IPOB but uncertainty over their security.
Asked what measures are in place to counter the IPOB order, he stated: “Well, I think is not more or less complying to the directive of IPOB or no IPOB, suspended or not suspended. It is a question of fear.
“You know, the easiest thing to do is to carry a weapon and kill somebody, and that’s what happened in the past. And that’s why, you know, some people in the South-West are afraid of coming out.
“Even if you go now to the street and say that… or you hold AK 47. You see everybody will desert the streets. So, it’s not a question of compliance. It’s a question of fear.
“The security agencies can have enough personnel in the South-East. You’ll find out that no South-West man wants to miss a day of work. They like to work, they are into trade, commerce, and they want to earn their daily living.
“So, this is something that the nation Nigeria must know. And it’s something that security agencies must know. Security agencies must know that they owe South-East people the duty to protect their lives.
“And this is the reason why it appears that in some states there is a compliance of sit-at-home, even though like you said, IPOB has said, it’s suspended.
“But it’s the worst thing to happen to South-East because it will destroy the economy of South-East. And so I’ve been singing and I have been shouting that South-East people should take into knowledge not to allow such thing to happen because it will cripple the economy of South-East”
The Ebonyi governor said he met with President Buhari to thank him for the “mega projects” his administration is implementing in the South-East, saying that the people of the region are grateful to him.
He explained: “I came to see, Mr President. One is to thank him very highly for a number of mega projects that he is doing in the South-East. The second Niger bridge is fast and fast becoming a reality. Each time we visit that bridge, location is always like a dream.
“So, we the people of South-East are very grateful to Mr President for this. We also thank him for the award of this Eastern corridor of the railway line. This is a project that is going to fast track the commercial activities of our people.
“I recall that when I was in school, I used to join train from my state, Ebonyi and then get up to Maiduguri where my brothers were staying for my holidays. Mr President is about restoring that hope. We are deeply very grateful.
“But I also reminded Mr President that one of his cardinal objectives is to integrate into the South-East or the state capitals, but in putting together the project through South-East that the capital of Ebonyi State, which is Abakaliki and capital of Anambra State, which is Awka, were omitted. And I reminded Mr President that the South-East governors had requested that I write which I did, but not yet approved to the Honourable Minister of Transport, which Mr President said he will find out why they were omitted in the first place.
“I am very, very hopeful that Mr President is going to give approval to those two locations. And also the limestone granules to fast track the fertiliser presidential initiative, which has helped the country Nigeria so much in food sufficiency.
“Let me point out that without the effort of Mr President, through this fertiliser initiative and other programmes in the agricultural sector, it would have been a very difficult time for this country. And so that project is supposed to produce a large set of granules to enable us to produce fertilisers to serve the South-South, South-East and part of North-Central.
“Mr President has already approved the funds and released to the Solid Mineral Development Fund. But part of the requirement is that there must be SPV integration or private sector initiative. We have applied to Mr President for approval through the chief of staff. So, we had to remind Mr President.
“Lastly, four years back, Mr President was in Ebonyi State about November to commission a number of projects and lay foundation stone to others. I reminded Mr President that we expecting him four years later, which would be November for him to come to Ebonyi State. The last time he spent one night but this time we are asking him to spend three nights.
“We have over 20 different projects; the ones we consider good enough for Mr. President to commission. We have completed the Muhammadu Buhari light tunnel bridge complex, the first of its kind in Africa for Mr President to commission.
“We have gotten to the stage of completing the best medical centre, King David University of Medical Sciences, the best in Africa. We have completed the largest mall, the most beautiful mall you can see anywhere in West Africa. We have completed an additional six twin flyover bridges, well decorated and beautiful. We want Mr. President to commission it.
“We want Mr. President to commission the St. Margeret International market, the largest market in West Africa. I want Mr President to commission it. We built the medical school for Ekwueme Federal University, completed and we want Mr President to commission it.
“We have over 200-kilometre concrete roads in Ebonyi State, some of them are federal roads, some concrete roads. And these are the major ones. You know, one Mr President to commission them.
“We have over 1000 kilometre road completed, since my first tenure and we want me president to commission. Of course, the list can be exhaustive here.”
The governor maintained that the security outfit established by the South-East states, Ebube Agu, is active and doing well.
“Talking from Ebubeagu position, it’s quite formidable and doing a great job in synergy will all the security agencies. And if you read through the newspapers, you see a lot of exploits that are being done in the South-East. It is quite tasking, security-wise, and we are tackling it,” he stated.
Credit: Nigeria Tribune