Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State has said Peter Obi, Labour Party (LP) presidential candidate for the 2023 election, is widely accepted.
The All Progressives Congress (APC) Governor said although his support is for Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, his party’s candidate, “only God knows who will win”.
Umahi who made the statement while fielding questions from State House reporters after a meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, said he visited the President to invite him for the commissioning of about N1.2 billion Governor’s Lodge at Asokoro, Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The governor, who lost the APC presidential ticket in June, said South East would have been forgotten if Obi had decided not to participate in the current electioneering process.
He expressed optimism that a candidate from South East would eventually become President of Nigeria during post 2023 elections.
When asked if the South East was ready for the presidency, Umahi said:
“What happened during the primaries of PDP and APC, were a kind of miscalculation by people, but to say whether they 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. I’m encouraged by what he’s doing. Because if he’s not doing what he’s doing, it means that 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 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 South East people and entire country that, we are accepted, you know, that we will one day become the president of this country. It is very important.”
On whether he was dismissing Obi’s movement, the governor said:
“Peter Obi’s movement and all the movement are authored on God’s will, it’s only God who knows 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 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 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. God has the final say and he has the power and gives to whomever He wishes.”
When probed further whether Obi had any chance of winning, Umahi said:
“Everybody has chances of winning and chances of losing but you must always have a wish. Yes.”
Umahi dismissed the notion that wanton killings in the South East had reduced with the coming of Peter Obi’s Movement.
When asked if he shared the view, he said:
“You cannot technically assign the killings for 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. So, wither what he is doing has meaning in there, not only South East, it does have meaning.
“So, we must never attribute the killings in South East to this kind of movement.”
Umahi said the APC was prepared for victory in 2023 as expressed by the party’s National Chairman, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, assuring that some of the disagreements in some states would be resolved.
He said mechanisms had been put in place by Mr. President, the candidate of the party, his running mate and the leadership of the party to sort out the differences.