In this interview with Benjamin Nworie, the Ebonyi State Deputy Governor and the Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Dave Umahi, addressed some of the political developments in the state. Excerpts:
A big number of people are joining your campaign team, just like a mass movement against the wish of Governor Chief Martin Elechi, 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 Labour Party tell us that they have done?
So it is not a case of mass movement but it is a question of PDP being a giant in Ebonyi State. Leaders were not giving the opportunity to come out to defend the party they founded. Now, there is opportunity for the leaders of the party in the state 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 President Jonathan and then vote for Labour Party candidates. It is height of hypocrisy because many our people are illiterate.
Some of them when you give them three ballot papers, how would they know which one is for the president and which one is not? What we assure you is that Mr. President will get more votes than what he got in last election in Ebonyi State.
How is it that a governor of the state that has benefited immensely from PDP but all his executive council members and government appointees are forced into Labour Party but for those of them who freed themselves from the cage. Is it not an open fraud?
The fund of local government and development centres are openly used to fund Labour Party and we talk of attitudinal change. I think the people of Ebonyi State will know what had happened for the past eight years of this administration. I feel very bad that the buses that belong to the state government have been painted Labour Party and that had not been done anywhere and the governor will look the other way.
I think Ebonyi should stand up and ask questions. That you are governor, deputy governor or commissioner does not make you the owner of the state. You are just one of the custodians the people are the government. So we should stand up and reject these things that are going on in the state in the name of movement for Labour.
How is your relationship with the governor?
Let us trace the genesis of whatever that may seem to be the disagreement. I was a state party chairman 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 and Elechi offered that I should help him to be re-elected.
It was a very difficult task. I even had to make covenant with God that the governor should be re-elected and Elechi said to me that he will hand over to me. It became a kind of contract and a covenant between us.
And I did everything within my conscience both finance and through wisdom, I made sure that he won and since seven years now, there is nothing he said I should do that I have not done. I looked at these things on the background of 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 but I have looked at it as a 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, love and obey him.
How would you describe the political situation in your state?
God has opened a flood gate of political freedom in Ebonyi State. People are now free to interact; people can now air their views.
People are 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 State is not known for that.
There is high level of desperation by the Labour Party and their agents. Very serious desperation and you can understand a political party that never existed in Ebonyi State but wants to take over power. You know it is not a small work which has to lead to desperation.
It started with the pulling down of Mr. President’s billboards. Ordinarily anybody could mount his or her own billboards, why then remove the billboards of others. We reported this matter to Commissioner of Police and since then, nothing has been done about it. Some of the billboards and poster 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, 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 Mr. 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 in Ezza south, the Divisional Police Command gave an escort to one of the House of Representative aspirant to go and attack people. Then it has escalated to Ikwo.
Last night, somebody was attacked and he 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. The Chief Security Officer of the state, Chief Martin Elechi needed to stand up and give the state deserve peace. He needs to call the Labour Party to order because PDP definitely controls over 95 percent population of the state and if they are allowed to retaliate, it will be terrible.
There is the rumour that the governor might be impeached. How true is it?
I’m not in the picture. But remember there is separation of power. The Judiciary, Legislature and the executive but the way we have carried on in the past seven years, the governor has looked on them 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, people who will handle public fund 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. And 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 one month be taking a bond. Is that in the interest of the state? I think governance is 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 of Assembly. And this is an impeachable offence. They said you cannot reconstitute some commissions without being cleared by the legislators.
And 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. He refused to adhere to the wisdom of the man 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 have 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 of power.
I don’t support his impeachment and I am not in the picture but I support the separation of power. I support that the governor should listen to the law makers, he should try and agree with them.
Would you probe governor Elechi if you become the governor?
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 state. And the leaders in this project have agreed because if you condone corruption, you are inviting poverty.
What could be your mission and vision for the state?
That is the main question. We shall lead our people with the fear of God and respect of 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 wife. Of course the environment will be convenient for business. No need talking about infrastructure because you already know that God trained us in infrastructure, building of roads and every other thing good for my people.