Ebonyi State governor, Dave Umahi has told President Muhammadu Buhari he is interested in contesting the 2023 presidency.
This is coming 24 hours after former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu informed president Buhari of his presidential ambition.
Speaking to State House correspondents on Tuesday after meeting with President Buhari, Umahi said the president told him to consult widely.
He said “Well, generally, yes and no. We discussed politics as the growth of our party, APC, in Nigeria, and the South East. And, of course, you know, the interest of south East, for the seat of presidency in 2023.
“And, of course, I told Mr. President, that without prejudice to whatever will be the decision of the party, which we shall abide by, that if the party throws the ticket open or zoned to the southern part of Nigeria that I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I’ll be running for the presidency, on the platform of APC.
“So I told him and of course, he believes that whoever wants to run for president of this country must have to consult widely, go to all the leaders and that we must do everything to remove ethnicity and religion in our politics. So that this country can grow.
When reminded of the caliber of other contestants eyeing the presidency on the platform of the All Progressive Congress ( APC), Umahi said he is in a contest with himself.
“The Bible that I swore with a section of in 1 Samuel says that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belong to God. He chooses whomever he will and he will do that in 2020. I’m not in contest with anybody I’m in a contest with myself,” he added.
The Ebonyi governor also said he has consulted widely saying “
I wouldn’t have done that without first coming into clear with Mr. President that there is this feeling in South East that has not been president and that people feel that those of our leaders in the various political parties should indicate interest to contest.
“And this is fair, this is important. But at the end of the day, it is God Almighty and the political parties that will also decide.
When asked if he has informed Ohaneze Ndigbo about his presidential ambition, Umahi said the socio-cultural organization should not dabble into politics.
According to him” Ohaneze leadership should not play politics. Yes, they can speak for the interest of the South East, they can speak for fair treatment to south East as people but as a matter of equity, justice, and fairness, and leaving a level playing field for all the political parties and the aspirants.
“They should not dabble into politics or whom to support or whom not to support. I think that they hear it just like they heard other political parties’ aspirants.
“We will also write them to notify them that yes, they have culpable sons and daughters that if God wills, that could do this job.
Asked what is Umahi Presidency bringing on board, he said “
Yeah. God willing, and if it’s the wish of the people of this country, Umahi’s presidency, we’ll be looking at the same thing we did in Ebonyi state.
“Before we came on board, we were a state written off, we had nothing to write home about infrastructure. But I must commend the first two civilian governors Dr. Sam Egwu and Chief Elechi, who did quite a lot, because they came amid the dust of the nation, Ebonyi State. And so they had, you know, quite a lot of challenges.
“So I can say that they laid the foundation upon which I started to build. And so there are a lot of things that we have done in Ebonyi.
“We have the best government house, you can see anyway, we have the best EXCO chamber and the largest you cannot see anyway. And so we intend to replicate the same thing.
“And I believe that with the little resources we have and people have been asking us how did you do it? Or how do you do it? And it’s all about patriotism.
Explaining further he said“It’s all about fear of God, it’s all about bringing in our experience to be bear. I have been into construction since I graduated. So I have a lot to give in terms of how to run governance as a business because you have to have the heart to help the people and that’s what we’ve demonstrated in Ebonyi.
“So we want to treat the nation if God permits, that what we’ve done becomes a microcosm of the macrocosm, of which we expect. We also believe strongly that we’ll be able to continue with what Mr. President has done.
“one of the greatest problems we have in this country is ethnicity, religion, and unpatriotic features of a lot of people. And I think that there is a need to engage starting from where Mr. President would have stopped.
The Ebonyi governor also insisted on a political solution to the matter of the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra( IPOB) Nnamdi Kanu.
“Let me also add that as the chairman of southeast governors forum, that I support a political solution to our insecurity problems in south East. And of course, I mentioned it to Mr. President.
“You see, a political solution does not terminate the judicial process. And if you know, Mr. President, very well, he has always said and has always demonstrated that he wouldn’t interfere with any judiciary process, everybody knows him for that.
“But you remember very well, that if an agreement is reached between parties, you don’t expect Mr. President to be the negotiator, there are a lot of federal, government officials.
“And so I believe strongly that as south East, is proposing for a political solution, they should be able to engage the federal government. After all, there’s always what is called out of court settlement, but it is for our people, and, our brother Kanu to be willing for us to truly engage so that we can find true peace in our region. Because, the activities there have been destroyed, a lot of the economy of the southeast a lot of lives have been lost.
“And when we were shooting it that it wasn’t going to benefit because agitation shouldn’t have gone the way it did.
“Today, the matter has gone beyond them. You know, every criminal, kidnapper, armed robber tends to claim IPOb, and IPOB, in turn, is fighting them. But I think, is late. So we desire peace, we desire to save the lives of our people.
And so we are willing to engage, to see that we have, you know, an amicable settlement. And you know, rebuild the economy of South East.
On what will be the starting point of your engagement, he said “You see the leaders of South East, of course, not all of them, they must be selected leaders, and they already Ohaneze and Chief Mbazurike is already, you know, in the forefront, and we can find true peace in our region.
“They have always been briefing me and so I’ve joined them together without these governors. So that could be the starting point, and we will be able to know what we want, we want peace. And so there are things we must give up to acquire that peace.
“Because if we are not being fairly treated, and some people feel we are not being fairly treated, we should be able to, you know constructively show to the federal government, the areas we think that we are not being fairly treated, not through hate speeches, not through violence.
“I don’t believe in these things, you know, because even in homes, in families, you know, the wife or husband or children, we still have one thing or the other against the family, but they should be able to discuss.
In the president’s response he said “If you listen to me very well, Mr. President has never been in disagreement for peace, or anything that will bring peace.
“But you must allow him, you know, for what he believes in and for his pedigree and integrity, not to interfere with the judiciary, but it is up to us because the byproduct of our discussion and negotiation is such that we can now go to the court and seek for out of court settlement, and whatever is the agreement becomes the settlement of the court.
“So I believe strongly that a political solution, would be far better than the process which may last for a very long time,” he stated.
By Jonathan Nda- Isaiah