Ebonyi: Umahi Sets Sight On 2019 | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Ebonyi: Umahi Sets Sight On 2019

Posted: Sep 22, 2016 at 3:25 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Chijioke Agwu



Barely 18 months into this administration,  the road to 2019 governorship  race in Ebonyi state getting clearer by the day as the governor of the state, Engr.David Umahi, told the people of the state of his readiness to seek a re-election come 2019.
Ordinarily,it is not out of place for a first term governor in Nigeria to be eyeing a second term since almost -if not all the governors in country often seek for a second term.
This perhaps explained why many Ebonyians were surprised when in December 2015, Governor Umahi said he was not interested in re-election.
Umahi who spoke in December 2015 during a courtesy call on him by the leadership of the students of various tertiary institutions in the state, noted that the speculation of his second term ambition barely one year in office was unfounded.
The governor was responding to a statement by one of the students’ leaders who drew the attention of the governor to his some of his electioneering promises such as to reduce fees of tertiary institutions in the state upon assumption of office.
The speaker had made an insinuation about the political danger of reneging on the promises he made to the students if he goes ahead to contest in 2019.
In his response, Governor Umahi said he was not going to renege on any of the promises he made to the students during the campaigns to reduce their school fees to the barest minimum.
He noted that the current economic challenges buffeting the country was the reason his government could not fulfill all the promises he made to the students
He however assured them that as soon as the economic situation improves, his government would fulfill all the promises.
He appealed to the students to be patient with his government, adding that he was committed to fulfilling all his campaign promises to the people of the state.
On the issue of the students not supporting him in 2019 if he fails to fulfill his promise,Umahi said he was not interested in re-election but to deliver first on his current mandate.
He said “as for the issue of supporting me in 2019.That is not an issue for now. I’m only interested in finishing my current tenure. Let’s finish this one first”
However, four months later, precisely in April 2016, signs began to emerge of Governor Umahi’s possible interest in re-election.
One of the first pointer to that effect was how governor Umahi’s core loyalists and family members took over the reins of  his party, the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) both at the state level and the zonal level.
One of Umahi’s younger brother, Maxwell Umahi,is the Deputy Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) in the state while his immediate younger brother, Austine Umahi, emerged the National Vice Chairman(South East)of the party amidst controversy.
The development had pitched Umahi against some members of the National Assembly like Sen.Sunny Ogbuoji, representing Ebonyi South Senatorial Zone,Sen.Obinna Ogba(Ebonyi Central) and some members of the House of Representatives like Hon.Linus Abba Okorie,representing Ohaozara,Onicha and Ivo Federal Constituency.
Others who disagreed with Umahi’s plot to take absolute control of the party in the state included his erstwhile loyalist and Senior Special Assistant  on Internal Security,Mr.Ali Odefa.
Mr.Ali, immediate past Zonal Publicity Secretary of the party for South East, had insisted to contest the position of Zonal Vice Chairman of the party which the younger Umahi latter won.
The political disagreement would latter cause Mr.Ali his office as SSA on Internal Security as Governor Umahi upon returning from the controversial South East PDP Zonal congress held in Enugu approved the sack of Mr.Ali and all the appointees recommended by Senators Sunny Ogbuoji and Obinna Ogba as well as those recommended by Hon.Linus Okorie as well as  Mr.Ali Odefa.
Although Governor Umahi had since reinstated them and fences appear to have been made with Ali re-assigned as SA on Infrastructure Maintenance.
However,there are indications that some members of the national Assembly like Hon.Linus Okorie are yet to forgive the governor  and appear to be plotting to make him unpopular as 2019 closes in.
For instance, just recently a government appointee and Governor Umahi’s kinsman ,Hon.Ene Odii,was  linked to the unfortunate battery and stripping of a minor, Miss ,Uzoamaka Chukwu. Hon.Okorie with the alleged connivance of some other National Assembly members capitalised on the matter to score some political points at the detriment of the governor.
But Okorie had said that he did not intervene in the matter for political reasons, maintaining that as the representative of the people of OHANIVO where the abused minor hails from, it was his responsibility to ensure justice for the 14 years old girl no matter who was involved.
Okorie had through the media condemned the act and called on  the governor to immediately relieve Hon.Ene of his appointment as Coordinator of Ohaozara Development Centre.
Okorie latter resorted to his facebook handle to draw bitter criticisms against the state government over its refusal to sack the Coordinator.
But reacting to the development, Governor Umahi described Hon .Okorie and his supporters as “ungrateful elements”.
He said he would not sack the embattled aide  as recommended by Okorie and his supporters.
As if to dare his detractors, few weeks after, governor Umahi declared his intention to re-contest  in 2019.
Governor Umahi made the disclosure recently  in Abakaliki while addressing the people of Izzi Land at the occasion of  the 2016 Ojiji Izzi new yam festival .
Umahi who said that his administration was committed to the construction of vital road networks across the Izzi Land and the  state in general ,noted that efforts were on by his government to obtain a loan from the African Development Bank to finance the construction of the 199 kilometers of the ring roads in the state.
“Let me give you good news .Yesterday, the federal executive council(FEC) approved our request to borrow the sum of 70m US Dollar from African Development bank to construct 199 kilometer of the ring roads.
“In our first tenure, because we must do second tenure, the ring roads must be commenced and completed .In our second tenure, we will put street light in all the ring roads. ”
Umahi who put his re-election ambition to voice vote and it was unanimously echoed in the affirmative by the audience said that those who would oppose his ambition were no longer in the state.
He assured his supporters that his re-election victory is assured come 2019.
Few weeks later, Governor Umahi  inaugurated 191 fresh appointees known as Technical Advisers.
The appointment which was dominated by members of opposition is seen as a ploy to enlarge his camp and support base ahead of 2019.

Since Umahi declared his intention to contest again there has been uneasy calm in many political camps in the state, particularly the Abuja Camp.
However keen political observers in the state have noticed pronounced absence of many National Assembly members from the state in some crucial government functions.
Although 2019 is still three years away, Governor David Umahi is not taking anything for granted as he never  misses any opportunity to enlarge his political coast just as some political bigwigs in the state are also scheming to take over from him at the expiration of his tenure.