By Ori Martins
Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state, who recently defected from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP to the ruling All Progressives Party, APC.
Let me say this straight ahead: I respect Governor Dave (David) Umahi on account of what I call his near immaculate performance in the past five years in Ebonyi State. Of course, my former editor, Nation Capital, Ikenna
Ikeroyal Emewu , will vehemently disagree with me. I have been a regular visitor to Ebonyi State since 2000 when Prince Emeka Obasi, the publisher of Hallmark newspaper took me to then Governor Sam Egwu.
I can tell you that Umahi has been working. He transformed the state capital, Abakaliki from a gutter village to an enviable city. In five years he has completed about five bridges located at strategic points. I went from Abakaliki to where the Alex Ekwueme Federal University is situated and the road was absolutely superb. In agriculture, Umahi revitalized the once derided “Abakaliki rice” and it became modernized and well packaged.
Umahi’s well tailored educational policy has revived the standard of education in the state and most Ebonyi youths are out of the streets. As a matter of fact, Umahi positively touched virtually all aspects of governance, his administrative ingenuity is felt in almost all the sectors. Indeed, he had been my man until his dumping PDP for APC.
I disagree with Umahi on his basic reason for quitting PDP for APC. Umahi has said he left the main opposition party for the ruling party because the former has been unfair to the South East zone. He anchors his submission on the fact that PDP has yet to deliver its presidential ticket to any Igbo since 1999. On face value – political gimmicks and nuances – this might sound tangible. But in actual fact and if measured by the prism of realities, Umahi’s claims would not stand any valid political examination, integrity test or professional conduct.
Take a look at this: During the reign of PDP, the South East got the position of president of senate and an Ebonyi State ward was among those elected. In the PDP arrangement, for the first time since 1960, a South Easterner was appointed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation and he hailed from Eboonyi State. And you understand my emphasis on Ebonyi State.
It is still very fresh in our memory that it was President Obasanjo of PDP that rebuilt the Owerri Onitsha Expressway, using Julius Berger and RCC. Almost at the same time, Ebonyi got the second major project in PDP years. The Uturu-Afikpo Highway was done by Julius Berger just as the Ishiagu Road was awarded to Strabag and the construction giant did a great job.
For those who do not know, during the 16 years administration of PDP, Ogbonnaya Onovo was IG of Police and it was the first time a South Easterner would occupy such an exalted position in the police. This enviable record was made possible by the late President Musa Yar’Adua. Again, after the assassination of General Ironsi, it took 45 years before any Igbo was promoted as the General Officer Commanding (GOC) the the army or what is now known as the chief of army staff. It was the PDP that made it possible when President Jonathan announced General Azubuike Ihejirika as the army chief.
In the days of PDP, South East politicians, technocrats and administrators manned the following positions to wit: Prof Chukwuma Soludo was CBN governor, Okonjo Iweala was minister of finance, Oby Ezekwezili was at due process, Arumma Otteh was DG, Security and Exchange Commission, Peter Ekpendu was DG, Prisons, and Johnkennedy Opara was secretary of pilgrims. Others were: deputy senate president, deputy speaker of house of representatives, national chairman of PDP, FRSC Corp Marshal, Immigration Comptroller, chairman, National Population Commission, INEC National Chairman.
Umahi has forgot that prior to the emergence of PDP as a ruling party, there was no police zonal command in the South East. It was the PDP that created the Zone Nine Police Command in Umuahia for the South East. Again, the PDP established the federal university named after Alex Ekwueme in Ebonyi and upgraded Alvan Ikoku College of Education to a federal status.
In contrast, APC has built four federal universities and all of them are in the north. The APC administration has 14 security chiefs and 12 are Northerners, one each from South West and South – South, the South East is left out. This APC government has no Igbo representation to wit: no Igbo as president, deputy president, senate president, deputy senate president, speaker or deputy speaker. It does not even consider any Igbo worthy for its national chairmanahip position. President Buhari is borrowing trillions of naira for what he called railway projects and not one lane crosses the South East. You can see now.
Really, Umahi is not politically correct when he said the PDP “has been unfair to Ndigbo”. Umahi was aware that Ndigbo never got the PDP presidential ticket due to political accident not an organized coup by the party. For instance, in trying to assuage the Niger Delta militants who held the country by the throat, Obasanjo shunned all his Igbo friends and looked South – South whereupon he picked Jonathan to pay with Yar’Adua in 2007. Yar’Adua died and Jonathan took over. The North revolted against Jonathan’s re-election and teamed up with a fraction of the West to install Buhari. And here we are! I really disagree with Umahi.