Igbo politicians have been searching without success an avenue to lead them to the presidency of Nigeria.
Since 1966, Ndigbo have yet to occupy the exalted position of president of the country.
The question is often asked: what is amiss with Ndigbo in Nigerian politics? It is believed that the Igbo man has mastered every other art in the land but politics, particularly the dynamics of being elected as Nigeria’s president.
Even the great Zik whose posthumous birthday is today, despite his established numerous legacies, failed to rule Nigeria in executive capacity.
However, may be unexpectedly, perhaps, expectedly, Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State, has taken a plunge. Penultimate week, he wrote to his party, PDP, revealing he was leaving the main opposition party for the ruling party.
His reason, according to him, is that the APC, unlike the PDP, would take its 2023 presidential slot to the South East geopolitical zone.
On paper, Umahi’s permutations appear attractive, exciting and convincing.
Why not? If APC is taking its 2023 to the South East, it therefore becomes imperative for the politicians of Igbo extraction to individually and collectively slide towards the umbrella party. After all, there is an Igbo axiom that says “The goat follows the man with palm leaves”.
Already, the Igbo apex socio cultural organization, Ohanaeze, had given its blessings to Umahi’s deft move. In the words of Ohanaeze, “The PDP has been very unfair to Ndigbo. We support Umahi’s move to APC if the party has seeded its presidential candidate to South East. Indeed, several other political, social and cultural groups are in support of Umahi’s quantum leap from PDP to APC.
Meanwhile, there is a call for concern. The fear is that, since Nigerian politics is anchored in god-fatherism, who is behind Umahi? That is, who are his godfathers? Which bloc is pushing his 2023 presidential ambition? So far in APC, there are about four formidable camps; does Umahi belong to any of them?
The camps are: Predident Muhammadu Buhari camp, El Rufai/ Rotimi Amaechi group, Bola Tinubu/ Oshiomhole bloc and “awaiting camp”. The last are those who are watching events to unfold and then hook up. For now, it is not easily comprehensible where Umahi belongs in the scheme of things.
The question every political analyst is asking is, can the APC take its presidential ticket to South East that has continued denying it at all levels of elections since 2015? Is it not a gamble and risk undertaking this kind of political voyage in 2023? It also goes to say that he who takes this kind of political journey is also a risk taker.
Umahi has come a long way. Born in 1964 at Uburu in Oha Ozara LGA of Ebonyi State, Umahi had his primary school education in his hometown.
He was at Ishiagu High School and Government Secondary School, Afikpo where he ultimately obtained his West African Secondary School Certificate. Buoyed by the spirit of survival and for greater tomorrow, he proceeded to obtain his first degree in Civil Engineering from the Enugu State University of Technology (ESUT) in 1987.
He was in private business until his emergence as the state chairman of the PDP and chairman, Governing Board of Federal Medical Center (FMC) Asaba, Delta State. It was from here the former governor, Chief Martin Elechi picked him as his deputy governor between 2011 and 2015.
The romance between Umahi and his boss ended on a sour note as Elechi had then Minister of Onyebuchi Chukwu to succeed him while the deputy governor wanted to be the next governor. It was a fierce fight and Umahi won.
In his saddle as the governor, Umahi has been doing well. Report has it that he has transformed virtually all sectors including agriculture, health, economy, infrastructure, security and even sports. However, civil servants in the state accuse him of suffocating them – no pension, no promotion, and no payment of all statutory allowances or entitlements. In fact, some have nicknames Umahi “slave driver”.
Looking at it from the reverse side, Umahi is just another Igbo politician making a sincere but tedious attempt at the presidency of Nigeria. After Zik, all of Odumegwu Ojukwu, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, Arthur Nzeribe, Alex Ekwueme, Jim Nwobodo, Ogbonnaya Onu and few others. As a matter of fact, Ekwueme almost had in his two attempts in 1999 and 2003 but was stopped by superior fireworks.
Will Umahi now make it? Does he have the wherewithal? Will he not also crash like those before him mentioned above? Umahi is a risk taker. It remains to be seen if he will still be lucky again like in his previous exploits.