Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi on Tuesday cleared the air on the choice of the former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi as the running mate to the People’s Democratic Party, PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar. He stated that he was not against the choice of Peter Obi whom he said is very competent, but the procedural process of choosing him, he faulted.
Umahi stated this in an interview with journalists in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The governor has faced backlash since he led leaders of the party to complain against the selection process that made Peter Obi emerge as Vice Presidential candidate of the party with many people accusing him of sabotaging the interest of the Igbo nation.
But, Umahi while clearing the air, said he was only against the process and not Obi who he noted was very competent for the job.
He, however questioned how people from other regions will meet and take decisions that concerns the south east with the input of a single person from the region.
“We have never said that we are against Peter Obi but what we have said is that if six people can come together from five other regions and look at recommendations for the south east and no south east person is there, that is not good for us.
“We have never said that Obi is not good for us, we have nothing against Obi but we want when decisions that concern us are being taken, we want to be part of that decision’, Umahi said.
The governor also expressed displeasure on the imbalance in the initial five man shortlist for the VP candidacy which had no person from Imo and Ebonyi State on it.
“Number two, the five names submitted, of course no governors in south east wants to be Vice President; everybody wants to finish his tenure. The Five names for VP should have been five names from the five south east states but there was no name from Ebonyi and Imo states”
“I am a fighter of marginalization of Ebonyi people. If we are going to vote, we must be treated with equity. These are the issues; two names came from Anambra, one from Enugu and two from Abia. So, what is wrong in having someone from Ebonyi and then one from Imo?
These are the issues but there are not as terrible as is being looked at. I know that my people put me on social media saying so many terrible things about me but it doesn’t move me”
“We must sit down with the presidential candidate and say look if we work together, we must be part of the decision making . I am not talking about myself, I am talking about the leadership of the south east”.
“If six people can come from other regions to take decision and there is nobody from south east and our people think is right, so be it”.
The Governor, who said he has a good relationship with Mr Obi said he has no regrets on his actions in the aftermath of Obi selection.
“Nobody is against Obi. The leaders of Ndigbo are saying that when decisions are taken and you invite people from other regions, invite people from south east. They never issued any statement and anybody from south east that is saying that my stand is not good, is not a human being because tomorrow is bigger than today”.
“If Atiku had just announced his running mate without other people from other regions seeing the list and making inputs or choices , we wouldn’t have been bothered because nobody chooses a VP for anybody; it is like a wife. But if other people were there, at least one person from south east should have been there. Secondly, Ebonyi state shouldn’t have been neglected even if we will not make the list because the choice is for the man”
“You remember that one of the reasons that Ebonyi man is not too comfortable with the issue of region is that we are afraid of further marginalization. So, these are the issues. Obi is my friend. You would have seen our pictures on the social media. Yes, he is my good friend and we have worked together very very well and he said something to me ‘if I were you, I will be more bitter, I will make greater noise than you are making’.
“Obi understands. And let me give you one shocking news! I was told in the course of our meeting in Enugu that somebody asked Chekwas Okorie why is it that Igbo don’t vote for their Vice Presidential candidates and Chekwas told him that anyday the Igbo man chooses his Vice Presidential candidate, the Igbo man will vote for the Vice presidential candidate and if you check be it Ekwueme or any other, you will find out that we have never voted along that line”.
“And I am very sure that in further decisions, the Igbo man must be called, that is just what we are saying. Nobody is against Obi and he is very competent to be VP but I alone cannot endorse Obi.
So when my Chief Press Secretary issued a congratulatory message, the Leaders started calling me saying so you alone have made the VP. So I had to issue another statement to say look, I was not consulted. If that is my sin, I cannot repent”,he concluded.