Governor Umahi spoke to State House Correspondents after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said he met the President to invite him to commission the new Ebonyi Governor’s Lodge, which his administration just completed.
Umahi, who was responding to a question about his earlier reservations after his loss at the APC presidential primaries and his demand for a president of Southeast extraction in 2023, also said the current Peter Obi political movement would go a long way to prepare the environment that will make an Igbo president possible in the future.
The Governor, who still maintained that the presidential contest in 2023 should be an all-South affair, said he has been fascinated by the momentum created by the Peter Obi movement because that is awakening an awareness about the people of the Southeast and their political relevance.
“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 and 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 Southeast would have been forgotten.
“So, while my party takes the victory, he would have prepared a very good ground for the Southeast 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’re accepted and that we’ll one become the President of this country. It’s very important.
“Peter Obi’s movement, and all the movements, are anchored on God’s will. It’s only God who knows who will win but there must be a wish. As a party man, I would wish that our party wins and if God says no, the next person I’ll 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 to be seeking to take another eight years, it should go to the South. So, I’m not wishing Peter Obi away. God has the final say and He has the power and gives to whomever He wishes.”
Umahi also attempted correcting a narrative in the public that the bloody violence, which was, until recently, prevalent in the Southeast is simmering because of the prospect of a Peter Obi winning the election in 2023, saying security is returning to the region because of the successes being recorded nationwide.
“You cannot technically assign the killings to be because of Igbo presidency. You can see that security is improving generally in the country and it has nothing to do with the movement of Peter Obi. Peter Obi movement is a movement that anchored on equity, justice and fairness.
“It may not translate to 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’s doing has meaning in, not only Southeast, it does have meaning. So, we must never attribute the killings in the Southeast to this kind of movement,” he said.
Asked about the chances of his party, the APC, in the Southeast in the next elections, the Governor noted that the game would change as different dynamics would be out to determine people’s interests and predicting that Obi would be getting a substantial number of the votes of the region.
“It’s going to be a different ballgame altogether because when campaigns start the interest of our people in terms of presidency is there, you can’t wish it away, but everyone in Southeast, holding the ticket of their party, is going to be struggling and he’s going to be fighting.
“You will not tell the guy that has the ticket of 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 Southeast, it’s there.
Asked about the crises within the ruling APC and the likely impacts of the crises on the chances party at the polls next year, he said “I think we don’t have issues in APC like the kind of issues that are in the other parties. In a big house, there are vessels unto honour, another vessel unto dishonour. Literally meaning that there must be some issues in a big house like APC, but the structure and the spread of APC is such that victory is assured.
“I can assure you that some of the disagreements in some states are going to be resolved. Mechanism have been put in place by Mr. President, the candidate of the party, his vice and the National Chairman and the leadership of the party, to sort out those differences and I think we are well prepared for victory in 2023”, he said.
“Speaking about the relevance of the new governors’ lodge he just built, he said I build mind-blowing projects to let, first and foremost, our brothers and sisters in the Southeast know Ebonyi State has come of age. So, if I have achieved nothing, it’s to instill confidence in our people because even when we talk about marginalization of Southeast, you come to Southeast, we talk about the marginalization of Ebonyi people.
“So, I built that project for people like you, to assure you that we went to the same school, that we have the same brain and that we’ve come of age and that nobody should neglect Ebonyi State again. And to some people, we use it to punish them, those who neglect us are being punished by this gigantic project and my projects are projects you can’t find anywhere in Southeast. You can crosscheck that. So, it’s for punishment.
“The benefit is to instill confidence in our people, to make our people number one in everything we do. Okay? That’s why when you are going to marry, you don’t wear tattered dress, and you ask yourself, what is the economic benefit of the beautiful dress you are putting on? It’s to instill confidence and make your bride to accept”, he said.