The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Friday, said the Labour Party presidential candidate, Peter Obi, would garner a significant number of votes from the South-East.
The former presidential aspirant who described himself as a loyal party man rooting for the All Progressive Congress’ win in the 2023 presidential election, said Obi’s political movement would be an effective harbinger for an Igbo presidency.
However, the movement will not “translate into an outright win”. Umahi revealed this to State House Correspondents shortly after a private visit to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
The visit, he said, is to invite Buhari to commission the new N1.2bn Ebonyi State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja in mid-October.
Feilding a question about his earlier reservations following his loss at the APC presidential primaries and his demand for a president of Southeast extraction in 2023, Umahi described the Obi Movement as an eye opener showing that the South East would not be forgotten in Nigeria’s politics.
The governor said despite the Labour Party’s poise to take a bulk of the Southeast votes, the APC will emerge victorious in next year’s election.
Asked what critical selling points will form the APC’s campaign message in the southeast, he said: “It’s going to be a different ball game altogether. Because when the campaign starts, yes, the interest of our people in terms of the presidency is there, you can’t wish it away. But everyone in the southeast holding the ticket of their party is going to be struggling. You will not tell the guy that has the ticket of the House of Assembly to look at the bigger picture of Igbo presidency. He may not see it but that is not to say that Peter Obi is not going to get substantial votes in the South East.
“But the structure and the spread of APC is such that victory is assured. And I can assure you that some of the disagreements in some states are going to be resolved. A mechanism has been put in place by Mr. President, the candidate of the party, his vice and then the national chairman and leadership of the party, to sort out our differences. And I think we are well prepared for victory in 2023.”
Questioned about the southeast’s readiness to man the presidency, Umahi said: “What happened during the primaries of PDP and APC, were a kind of miscalculation by our people but to say whether they’re ready for the presidency of the country anytime, I think that the movement of Peter Obi is an eye opener.
“That’s why I said, I love what he’s doing. I’m encouraged by what he’s doing. Because if he’s not doing what he’s doing, it means that the South East would have been forgotten.
“So, while my party takes the victory, he would have prepared a very good ground, for the South East Presidency, so that nobody is going to write us off. And you can see the level of his acceptability, which does not translate to victory over APC. I’m sure of that, but it’s a good movement. And it reassures the southeast people and the entire country that we are accepted, you know, that we will one day become the president of this country. It is very important.”
He however argued that there is no direct link between the reduced cases of killings in the southeast and the Obi movement.
Lately, there has been an ongoing narrative that the gory violence prevalent in the Southeast is subsiding due to the prospect of Peter Obi clinching the Presidency in 2023.
He said “You cannot technically assign the reduction in the killings for Igbo presidency, you can see that security generally is improving in the country. And it has nothing to do with the movement of Peter Obi.
“Peter Obi movement is a movement that is anchored on equity, justice and fairness. It may not translate to an outright win because I must defend my party, I must wish my party well and I’m having the ticket of my party.
“But whether what he is doing has meaning there, it is not only in the southeast, it does have meaning. So we must never attribute the killings in the southeast to this kind of movement,” he argued.
Umahi noted that every candidate has a chance to win the elections and he wishes Peter Obi the victory.
“As a party man, I would wish that our party would win. And if God says no, the next person I wish that should win is Peter Obi. Because I believe strongly and I will say it anywhere in this north-south presidency after the north has taken eight years, there is no moral justification for the north to be seeking to take another eight years, it should go to the south. And so, I’m not wishing Peter Obi away.
“Everybody has the chance of winning and chances of losing but you must always have a wish,” he said.