Umahi’s consensus plan for Ebonyi State guber suffers setback
Efforts by Governor David Nweze Umahi to broker a consensual agreement between governorship aspirants in Ebonyi State chapter of All Progressives Congress (APC) has suffered a setback as the Izzi clan of Ebonyi North failed to shortlist two aspirants as demanded by the governor.
The issue of zoning of the 2023 governorship slot between Ebonyi Central and Ebonyi North Senatorial zones became a bone of contention, when both zones started laying claims to the party’s ticket given that Umahi’s defection gave the party with its first chief executive in the state.
Worried by the bickering among governorship aspirants on the party’s platform, particularly the 2015 governorship candidate of the party, Senator Julius Ali Ucha, and the chairman of Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Allocation Committee (RMFAC), Elias Mbam, Governor Umahi directed the two zones to put forward two aspirants each for consideration.
However, while the Ezza clan of Ebonyi Central Senatorial District reached consensus on Ucha so that the other aspirant, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Dr. Kenneth Ugballa, gets the Senatorial ticket, attempt by their Northern candidate to shortlist two candidates flopped.
The Guardian gathered that no sooner was the idea of shortlist mooted than some traditional rulers and appointees from the zone endorsed the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Ogbonna Nwifuru, thereby shutting out the RMFAC chairman, Mbam.
Stakeholders from Ebonyi North Central zone, including Hon Alex Nwofe, have disagreed with the endorsement of Nwifuru, stressing that traditional rulers are not permitted to take active part in partisan politics.
In an interview with journalists, the Speaker, Nwifuru, contended that being critical stakeholders, the traditional rulers from the zone reserve the right to endorse any person for the position of governor since the Nigerian constitution does not bar them from voting.
APC stakeholders in Ebonyi State told The Guardian that given the division in Izzi the party was already looking forward to a governorship contest between Ucha and a former Health Minister, Fidelis Nwankwo, who is expected to pick the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) ticket in the main election.
It would be recalled that since 1999, when Dr. Sam Egwu defeated Dr. Ogbonnaya Onu, to clinch the governorship seat, PDP had produced governors from the three Senatorial zones, until the November 2021 defection of Governor Umahi.
When contacted, Ebonyi State commissioner for Information, Orji Uchenna Orji, said he was not aware of any such development, even as he condemned attempts by purveyors of fake news to create the impression that Umahi has abandoned his Presidential aspiration.