‘We’ll Lead Our People With The Fear Of God And Respect Their Opinions’
Chief Dave Umahi, Deputy Governor of Ebonyi State and the People Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate in next month’s election and former state Chairman of the party, spoke to journalists in Abakaliki on politics in the state, among others. NNAMDI AKPA was there and reports.
WHAT is your reaction to allegations that your boss, Governor Martin Elechi, who has benefited immensely from the PDP, has influenced his cabinet members and government appointees to join the Labour Party (LP)?
The funds of local governments and development centres are openly used to fund the Labour Party (LP), and we talk of attitudinal change.
I think the people of Ebonyi will know what had happened for the past eight years of this administration.
I feel very bad that the buses belonging to the state government have been painted LP and the governor will look the other way.
Time has come for the people of Ebonyi to stand up and defend themselves.
Can anybody talk of development in any part of this state since the last six months? And we have been collecting allocations for the past six months.
I don’t think it is fair. I think Ebonyi should stand up and ask questions.
It is being rumoured that the governor might be impeached?
I am not in the picture. Remember there is separation of power among the Judiciary, Legislature and Executive.
The way we have carried on in the past seven years, the governor has looked on them (legislators) as small boys and girls, who must obey him in all things.
But I think there is a difference between them and the executive.
For instance, you cannot appoint a caretaker committee or people who will handle public funds without them being screened by the House of Assembly, and it is an impeachable offence.
Two, you cannot take another Bond without accounting for the one you took, as requested by law. These projects are not completed and that if you do that, it is an impeachable offence.
I heard that the Bond has been signed. How can an administration that will end in the next few months be taking a Bond? Is that in the interest of the state?
I think governance is a continuity, so why the desperation to take a Bond at this time, if governance is a continuum? It is an impeachable offence.
The legislators say that you cannot appoint coordinators without being screened by the House, which is an impeachable offence.
They also said you cannot reconstitute some commissions without being cleared by the legislators.
I think the offence of the Secretary to the State Government (SSG) was that he advised that the right thing be done and that is why he is having problems with him (governor).
He (governor) refused to adhere to the wisdom of the man (SSG), and you know, the man has been in governance for many years now.
The point is that the governor does not listen to anybody, so I had to intervene by telling him that he had to listen and discuss with the members of the House.
In as much as I don’t support impeachment, I support separation power. I support that the members of the House should be given their own constitutional rights, and that is the way it supposed to be done.
That you are Governor, Deputy Governor or Speaker of the House does not make you God. We are equal before God. Any position you are occupying, God expects you to perform it with the fear of God.
I don’t support his (Elechi’s) impeachment and I am not in the picture, but I support the separation of power. I support that the governor should listen to the lawmakers and try to agree with them.
How would you describe the political situation in the state?
God has opened a floodgate of political freedom in Ebonyi. People are now free to interact; people can now air their views and now free to belong to any party of their choice.
But the desperation of some people is bad and if allowed, it will spring up violent activities and Ebonyi is not known for that.
There is a high level of desperation by the LP and their agents for a political party that never existed in Ebonyi, but wants to take over power.
It started with the pulling down of the President’s billboards. Ordinarily, anybody could mount his or her own billboards, so why remove the billboards of others?
We reported this matter to the Commissioner of Police and since then, nothing has been done about it. Some of the billboards and posters were white washed.
I can recall that it was Chief Obinna Ogba that first reported this matter to the police, but nothing was done about it. If you go to Quarry Road and Ishieke Junction, you will see what they did to the billboards.
We are now witnessing a very serious attack on PDP supporters, especially in Ezza South. All the billboards bearing the pictures of the President were pulled down.
In the afternoon, they will say they are supporting Jonathan, but in the night, they will go and pull down his billboards. That is hypocrisy.
Even the Divisional Police in Ezza South escorted one House of Representatives aspirant to attack people. Now, it has escalated to Ikwo. Last night, somebody was attacked and is now hospitalised.
A week ago, some of our supporters in Ikwo were brought down with axe and we reported to the Police and they are now in the hospital. We have spent over N1 million for their treatment.
These developments are very bad and I don’t understand this kind of desperation by the LP. The Chief Security Officer of the state, Elechi, needs to stand up and give the state its deserve peace. He needs to call the LP to order because PDP definitely controls over 95 per cent of the state’s population and if they are allowed to retaliate, it will be terrible.
A number of people are joining your campaign team, like a mass movement. What is the magic?
It is not a mass movement as such; people are expressing their feelings. Don’t forget that when we go out to campaign, we say what PDP has done. What will LP? Tell us what they have done?
So, it is not a case of mass movement, but it is a question of PDP being a giant in Ebonyi.
Leaders were not given the opportunity to come out to
defend the party they founded. Now there is an opportunity for them to come out to say this is PDP and no man can put it down.
They are supporting the President genuinely because it is a height of hypocrisy to tell an illiterate person to vote for the President and then vote for LP candidates.
It is height of hypocrisy because many our people are illiterate. When you give some of them three ballot papers, how would they know which one is for President and which one is not?
We can assure you that the President will get more votes than what he got in the last elections in Ebonyi.
Has the state chapter of the party informed the national secretariat about these allegations?
The Elders of the state, the owners of PDP in Ebonyi have made their opinion known to the national leadership of the party. It is up to them to take a decision, but my advice is that the right thing should be done.
How is your relationship with the governor?
Let us trace the genesis of whatever that may seem to be the disagreement. I was state chairman of the party and served for four years and the governor never complained about me.
At the time we were rounding off, I was prepared to go back to my business, but he offered that I should help him to be re-elected. It was a very difficult task. I even had to make a covenant with God that the governor should be re-elected.
Elechi said to me that he will hand over to me. It became a kind of contract and a covenant between us. I did everything within my conscience, both through finance and wisdom to ensure that he won and since seven years now, there is nothing he said I should do that I have not done.
I look at these things on the spiritual value than physical, because the man never found me wanting for seven and half years. Why should it be now?
I have done everything possible that a child of God can do. I have gone to kneel down for the man. I have publicly declared my loyalty to him. Still, the man did not agree. I looked at it as the case between Saul and David.
I will not be against the governor, no matter the level of provocation. The Lord is my strength and I will continue to be loyal, to love and obey him.
Would you probe the governor, if elected next month?
I have no reason to probe my father, my boss and my friend. I will not forget the good things he has done for me. I will not forget the fact that he made me party chairman and deputy governor.
What is playing out now is the handiwork of darkness. It is a fight between light and darkness. So, I look beyond that, but one thing I must stress is that I will not allow corruption in Ebonyi.
The leaders in this project have agreed on that, because if you condone corruption, you are inviting poverty.
What is your mission and vision for the state?
We shall lead our people with the fear of God and respect their opinions.
We shall not locate projects without consultations and input from the benefitting communities.
We shall make civil servants enjoy along with politicians and we shall show transparency.
We shall not, by any disguise, award contracts to our sons and wives.
Of course, the environment will be convenient for business.
No need to talk about infrastructure, because you already know that God trained us in infrastructure, building of roads and every other thing good for my people.