Amid the ongoing agitations and clamor for an Igbo president in 2023, Ndigbo youths, under the auspices of the Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council (OYC) has urged all Southeast governors elected under the platform of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to decamp to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC); arguing that such a move would bolster the chances of an Igbo governor succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari and fulfilling the aspirations of the Southeast to produce a president for the first time in Nigerian history.
In a statement in Abakaliki, OYC national president, Okechukwu Isiguzoro, urged southeast governors to emulate Ebonyi State PDP Governor, David Umahi by openly declaring their political alliance with Buhari’s APC government, as one of them would be favored as Buhari’s successor. The OYC statement followed comments attributed to Umahi; to the effect that, although he was a card-carrying member of PDP, he would always align with Buhari. OYC, therefore, urged Umahi, whose alleged comments have provoked a backlash of recriminations, to officially join the APC.
“Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youth Council Worldwide lauds the chairman of Southeast Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and Ebonyi State governor for his bold stance of being 100 per cent APC inwardly, irrespective of being a card-carrying member of PDP. Other southeast governors should emulate Umahi and declare openly their political alliance with Buhari’s APC government, as one of them is favoured and predicated to be Buhari’s successor in 2023, and Igbo youths are solidly behind them,” the OYC statement said.
OYC also commended Northern elder statesman, Mallam Isa Funtua, for his support for a president of Igbo extraction in 2023. “The Northern elder statesman, Mallam Isa Funtua’s statement on Igbo presidency project 2023 is a good signal that the Igbo are designed by fate, destined by God and favoured by Nigerians, irrespective of tribe and religion, to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023,” OYC stated.
But the PDP Governors Forum has come out to strongly reject the comments attributed to Umahi, saying he was misquoted. Amid charges of anti-party activities against Umahi flying from some quarters, the PDP discounted online media reports that Umahi belongs to the PDP and the APC; as falsehood packaged to tarnish Umahi’s image and make the sponsors and author of the publication happy.
In a statement by its Director-General, Earl Osaro Onaiwu in Abuja, the PDP said: “The news circulating online that Governor David Nweze Umahi said he belongs to both the PDP and APC is a blatant falsehood aimed at tarnishing his image and to distract him from his focus. The author of the publication acted in bad fate, with malice and certainly with ulterior and sinister motives. On several occasions and at all times even in the face of stiff opposition and blackmail, Umahi has always proven to be a committed party man. He loves the party and the Governors Forum, and they love and cherish the friendship and bond between them.”
The party argued that the report is being orchestrated because of the 2023 general elections, insisting that there are more civilized and better ways of playing politics. “Yes, he (Umahi) like other players in the political arena may have his ambitions and dreams, especially at the end of his tenure in 2023. He may aspire for any political office at the Presidential Villa, which he is constitutionally fit and qualified for, but that will certainly be on the PDP platform.
“We have reasons to believe that he may have been quoted out of context in the publication. We smell mischief. We see the handiwork of detractors, who are scared of his credentials and constantly growing legacies so far attained in the governance of Ebonyi State. We perceive falsehood taken too far by those who are envious of the gigantic projects his administration is handling; detractors who hate the fact that in the past four to five years, Ebonyi State has become a huge construction site for infrastructure development. Finally, we wish to state that Governor Umahi is dedicated to the PDP. We can say that he has never and will not play double standards, not with a party like PDP, which he holds dear to his heart,” the statement added.
Meanwhile, Umahi himself, yesterday debunked the claims that he belonged to both PDP and APC, insisting that he remained a loyal and committed member of the PDP. A statement issued in Abakaliki by Commissioner for Information and Orientation, Uchenna Orji, noted that the governor was mischievously quoted out of context. He said: “The state government has noted the online report in which Umahi’s comment was misrepresented by those who hide under partisan politics to malign the governor for their selfish reasons.”