The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Friday said the movement of presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Peter Obi, is an eye-opener and the party would garner a significant number of votes in the 2023 presidential election. He however expressed optimism that his party, the All Progressives Congress, would win.
Umahi, who contested the APC presidential primary but lost to Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, described himself as a loyal party man rooting for the APC to win the election. He spoke to State House Correspondents shortly after a private visit to the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.
He said the visit was to invite the President to inaugurate the new N1.2bn Governor’s Lodge in Abuja by mid-October.
Fielding questions from journalists, he described the Obi Movement as an eye-opener that showed the South-East would not be forgotten in Nigeria’s politics. He said despite the Labour Party’s poise to take the bulk of the South-East’s votes, the APC would emerge victorious in the 2023 presidential election.
He added, “It’s going to be a different ball game altogether because when the campaign starts, yes, the interest of our people in terms of presidency is there, you can’t wish it away but everyone in the South-East 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 the 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 has been put in place by Mr President, the candidate of the party, his running mate and the national chairman and leadership of the party to sort out our differences. I think we are well prepared for victory in 2023.”
Asked how he felt that the APC and the Peoples Democratic Party did not produce a South-Easterner as the candidate, he said the region miscalculated, “but to say whether they are ready for the presidency of the country anytime, I think 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 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 nobody is going to write us off.
“You can see the level of his acceptability, which does not translate to victory over the APC. I’m sure of that, but it’s a good movement. It reassures the South-East people and the entire country that we are accepted and that we will one day become the president of this country. It is very important.”
Responding to insinuations that killing in the region was reducing because of the prospect of Obi winning the election, Umahi noted, “You cannot technically assign the reduction in the killings to 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 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 South-East, it does have meaning. So, we must never attribute the killings in the South-East to this kind of movement.”
He stated that as a party man, he would wish that his party would win “and if God says no, the next person I wish should win is Peter Obi because I believe strongly and I will say it anywhere in this North-South presidency that 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.”