In the last two weeks or so, elders, leaders and other peacemakers have labored behind-the-scene to resolve feuding political leaders in Ebonyi State, especially Governor David Umahi, former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim and former Governor Sam Egwu. Associate Editor, Sam Egburonu, who has monitored the face-off, reports on the peace moves
Before this Monday’s open apologies tendered publicly in Uburu by Governor David Umahi, the political fire recently lighted on the political theatre of Ebonyi State seemed unfettered.
Since Umahi defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC), there has been hot exchange of words between him and many of his former political associates. The matter degenerated to the extent that each of the feuding political leaders, starting with Governor Umahi, accused the other of plans to kill, maim and destabilise the state.
But with Umahi’s apologies this week, concerned observers are hopeful that the huge damage on the state polity could be managed.
Umahi, who had been at the forefront of the offensive surprised observers when he apologised to all while addressing stakeholders of the state APC at the ground-breaking of FMBN/NLC/ TUC/ NECA housing estate that took place at Uburu community, Ohaozara Local Government Area of Ebonyi State.
He said: “Let me publicly say it here, that I have directed that nobody should abuse anybody again, even if I’m abused; it goes with the job. Don’t respond to them.
“I am the father of the state. And I should be ashamed of myself if the state of Ebonyi is allowed to go into bitterness and into disunity.
“I have decided to move forward. I have decided to forgive all and at the cost of this, those who may have been hurt because I take responsibility for the actions of all my government officials. And for all my supporters.
“I offer apologies to them. I am not going to sit on the judgment with anybody. These apologies and forgiveness should be enough to settle all bad blood. And I have no regrets for that. God directed me to do this. And I thank all our leaders who have intervened.
“I thank the Catholic Bishop of NnachiOkoro; I thank CAN people, led by the Chairman, Rev. Dr. Abraham Nwali; I thank the founding fathers; I thank Ohanaeze leadership led by Chie NniaNwodo; UchennaMadu and all leaders of the Southeast.
“Never again shall we respond to any attack against our government. It is not necessary, but facts speak for itself,” he said.
Signs that the defection of Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State to All Progressives Congress (APC) will shake the foundation of the state’s politics became magnified about two months earlier, especially when Umahi reportedly told newsmen that he would fight the former governor of the state, Senator Sam Egwu, the former Senate President andformer Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, and many other national leaders of the PDP in the state “if they continue to disturb the existing peace in the state.”
Umahi was quoted then as making the vow while briefing journalists shortly after a meeting with all security chiefs in the state.
He said he received reports about the alleged plans by some leaders of PDP to disturb the peace of the state and had reported same to security chiefs in the state. Amongst the PDP leaders he raised accusing fingers at included Anyim, Egwu, Senator ObinnaOgba andMr. Ali Odefa, the chairman of Southeast zonal PDP.
As he puts it: “I want the Media to note that I reported an allegation that some Ebonyi people are engaging cultists and according to them, some IPOB members to start killings and crisis in Ebonyi State in the name of fighting Ebonyi State Government and the governor.
“Their leader is Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and their members are Dr. Sam Egwu, Senator ObinnaOgba, Mr. Ali Odefa and others.
“This is alleged information I got and I needed to share this information with the security agency. The reason is that every governor in the state has been fought by the same set of people and it is very interesting to know that the same Senator Pius Anyim fought the former Governor Egwu and many people were killed.
“I am not saying that this information is true or not but I needed to raise an alarm because lives will be lost; I pray to God that this shouldn’t be true. And I have asked the security agencies to reach out to them.
“Their party (PDP) will exist peacefully in the state and nobody is going to harass them. But it is important to put it on notice that this is what we heard. It may be true, it may not be true.”
Since this open allegation, all have not been well between Umahi and the PDP leaders. The supporters of the contending leaders across the state have also been at each other’s neck, even as they exchanged hot vituperations.
Anyim, who was considered a close political ally of Umahi before the governor’s defection to APC could not hide his dislike of Umahi’s recent attitude towards him. In an open letter, the former Senate President and former SGF described the governor as a “prisoner of his greed and inordinate ambition.” The letter addressed to President MuhammaduBuhari and titled “Governor David Umahi on his wild, infantile, and utterly senseless accusations against my person,” was as explosive as the initial allegationsUmahi made against Anyim and the other PDP leaders.
Denying the allegation that he had agreed to defect to APC with Umahi but suddenly withdrew at the last minute and that he and the other PDP leaders were cultists and IPOB leaders, Anyim took time to narrate what he knew about Umahi’s defection.
He said: “The case in hand is his defection to APC on the 19th of November, 2020. The discerning public knows that he has been on the plan for a long time and when he decided to consummate it, he suddenly concocted an accusation against PDP, that PDP was not willing to zone Presidency to the Southeast… It is public knowledge that Governor Umahi had been planning his defection to the All Progressives Congress (APC) for a long time. In his delusion, he believed his own lies that he is the only man who matters in Ebonyi State. He did not consult with anybody notable before consummating his defection to APC. After his defection, no person of note followed him.
“Unable to contain and manage the unsavory reactions from the public, he ran to my home in the company of some high-profile people, on the 20th of November 2020, and pleaded with me to defect to APC, saying that if I do, others will follow suit. I pointed out to him that his approach has made it almost impossible for anybody to defect. He pleaded with me that if I cannot defect now, I should not attend any PDP meetings, and I said no, I must attend PDP meetings as long as I am in PDP.
“He realised that he could not persuade anybody when he saw the crème of Ebonyielders and citizens that gathered for the inauguration of PDP Caretaker Committee. He could no longer sleep and declared war on every one who has refused to defect.”
PDP stakeholders in Senator Sam Egwu’s zone are also not amused by Umahi’s face-off with their son and representative at the legislative Red Chamber in Abuja. After an enlarged meeting, the PDP leaders in Ohaukwu Local Government Area in Ebonyi North Senatorial District, which Egwu represents, warned Governor Umahi against verbal attacks on the former governor, alleging that it was the former governor, Egwu, and Senator Anyim that made him (Umahi) governor of Ebonyi State.
Parts of the communique the leaders released after the meeting reads: “having meticulously x-rayed the recent developments in the state, especially with respect to the unfounded allegations by Governor David Umahi on notable persons in Ebonyi State and most especially on a very revered and respected personality of His Excellency Senator Dr. Sam O. Egwu, we considered it fitting to respond to the governor in a manner befitting of his infantile and seemingly confusing language and approach. We, therefore, state that: much as we know that the governor’s allegations were unfounded and clearly represents efforts in futility …, we also wish to let the public know that if Senator Egwu, Anyim, etc are sponsors of the IPOB, cult groups and general violence as alleged by the governor, then Governor Umahi, who is a renowned beneficiary of all that, prior to his defection recently, is not just a member of them all, but may even be their captain.
‘We equally want the general public to compare His Excellency Senator Sam Egwu with Mr. Umahi. If Senator Sam Egwu, who prior to being a governor is known for his humane nature by all and sundry and whom, as a governor, developed human beings through free education and by sending many Ebonyians abroad for studies, etc., thereby building human capacity and developing both institutions and individuals, is now the sponsor of the IPOB and cultism as alleged, and he is behind any ploy to cause violence in Ebonyi, the state he labored so much to build, then, the world should tell us whom David Umahi, whose strategy is to starve Ebonyiansto hunger, subject them to inhuman and degrading treatments and to cow them down by all means of threat and bullying, is.”
IS PEACE IN SIGHT?
Reacting to the unrestricted exchange of hot words and its direct impact on the politics of Ebonyi State, Francis Enwo, a political commentator in the state, told The Nation during the week that the state is still the worse for it. “Here in Abakaliki and the entire Ebonyi State, the tension is yet to subside notwithstanding the alleged truce called by Governor Umahi. Keen observers of the politics of Ebonyi had predicted that Umahi’s planned defection to APC will shake the politics of the state, but no one anticipated this kind of inferno. I think the governor’s initial stonewalling and his last minute approach before the public announcement of the long concluded defection combined to set the stage for the current confusion. Umahi’s eventual defection to APC was a long expected political development. So, its effect on the politics of the state should have been milder if the governor has avoided his now renounced offensive on leaders like Egwu and Anyim. Now, everybody had been on the offensive and the heat therefore threatened to rupture the existing political unions across the board,” he said.
Chief Enwo however commended peacemakers from within and outside Ebonyi State who he said did a great job in the last two weeks to save Ebonyi, politically. “I am proud to tell you that elders and leaders rose to the occasion to save the situation and to save Ebonyi, politically. There is no need for the kind of political war that threatened the Southeast state. The tone of the governor’s reported apologies is a proof of the likely result of the efforts.”
Unlike what obtained last week, when the face off seemed unrestrained, there seems to be hope of early peaceful reconciliation of the feuding political leaders. How soon this would be realized still remains to be seen.
Credit: The Nation