“I’m encouraged by what he’s doing. Because if he’s not doing what he’s doing, it means that the South-east would have been forgotten.”
The Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Friday, said the campaign of opposition presidential candidate Peter Obi is ‘anchored on equity, justice and fairness.”
Gov. Umahi, who is a prominent member the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC), however, said he believes Obi will not win the presidential election.
He stated this on Friday afternoon after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
“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,” the governor said.
Obi, former governor of Anambra State, is the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP).
Umahi aspired to be the APC presidential candidate but lost the party’s primary to the former governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu.
He also said it is unfair to associate the criminality by insurgent groups in the South-east with Obi.
He said although he remains loyal to the APC and hopes for the victory of the party’s candidate, Obi will win “substantial votes” from the South-east.
“What happened during the primaries of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and APC, were a kind of miscalculation by people, but to say whether they (South-east) are ready for the presidency of the country anytime, I think that the movement of Peter Obi is an eye opener. That’s why I said I love what he’s doing,” he said.
“I’m encouraged by what he’s doing. Because if he’s not doing what he’s doing, it means that the South-east would have been forgotten.
“So why my party takes the victory, he would have prepared a very good ground for the South-east presidency, so that nobody is going to write us off. And you can see the level of his acceptability,” Umahi added.
He said aside from the candidate of his party, APC, he would prefer Mr Obi to win the presidential election in 2023, saying that there is no moral justification for northern Nigeria to be seeking another shot at the presidency after Buhari.
Speaking on the chances of APC in the South-east region of the country, the governor said the APC would face a different battle for votes in the South-east because of the current interest of south-easterners in the presidency and the involvement of Mr Obi in the race.
“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,” he said.
On the lingering crisis in the APC, Governor Umahi said he was not surprised by the crisis in his party, arguing that a crisis is inevitable in a “big house” like the APC.
He dismissed claims that the crisis could hurt the party’s chances at the general elections, pointing out that the leadership of the party has set up a “mechanism” to resolve the crisis ahead of the general elections.
“We don’t have issues in the APC like the kind of issues that are in other parties. And I think we are well prepared for victory in 2023,” he stated.
The Nigerian two dominant political parties, APC and PDP, picked their respective presidential candidates outside the South-east despite agitations by South-east leaders that the region should be given an opportunity to produce a president for the first time come 2023.
Obi, who hails from Anambra State, South-east Nigeria, has been garnering huge support from the region.
The former Anambra State governor was a presidential aspirant of the PDP, before he announced his resignation from the party, a few days before its presidential primary, saying there were practices in the party that were inconsistent with his “belief and persona.”
Obi’s candidacy has been viewed by many residents of the South-east as an opportunity for the region to take a shot at the presidency in 2023.