By Chidiebere Nwobodo
I wasn’t surprised that Governor David Umahi just existed the PDP. Since Buhari came to power, every political pundit with instinctive cum analytical prowess knew that Ebonyi henchman was only a step out of the PDP. Governor Umahi never pretended about his romance with the President and the ruling party. His body language bespoke anti-PDP sentiments. Like most ideologically perverted Nigerian politicians, he has gone to further his political interests while berating his former party using the pretext of fighting for South-East. Time will tell how strategic or unwise his decision was.
I wouldn’t have bothered writing this piece if it was about Governor Umahi’s cross-carpeting alone, because it is inconsequential to me. But the insufferable hypocrisy being displayed by some PDP leaders towards Umahi’s exit. When Governor Godwin Obaseki joined the PDP, most pro-PDP folks celebrated it as “tenets of democracy” and “fundamental right of association”. My question is: if Gov. Obaseki could exit the APC for political reasons, why won’t Gov. Umahi do same? I detest hypocrites!
2023 and South-East Question
From the knee-jerk reactions of the PDP and some of its leaders as regards Governor Umahi’s defection, it is obvious that the party was rattled by this development. The palpable fear that one or two governors of the zone will follow Umahi to the APC, has altered the 2023 calculation of the PDP. Governor Nyesom Wike has demised Umahi’s excuse for leaving the party and told the NWC to ensure that the party is not dead in Ebonyi State.
The PDP has shown that South-East is still important to the party after all, but has hitherto pretended that South-East was unimportant in its political strategy as we en route 2023. The party has refused to make categorical statement concerning the noble quest of the zone to produce president. The silence of the PDP as regards the fate of the zone ahead of next presidential election, smirks of subtle betrayal. South-East has supported the PDP enough to the extent that its interest should be paramount to decision makers of the party.
We supported Obasanjo presidency twice, even when his zone—southwest, voted against him. We voted massively for Yar’Adua despite being a northerner cum Fulani. We rallied round our Ijaw brother, Goodluck Jonathan in 2011, even when we knew his presidency would delay an Igbo man being in that position. In 2015 when other four regions ganged up against Jonathan, southeast provided unparalleled support to his ill-fated re-election, even when lives and properties of Ndigbo were put at risk across Nigeria. The rest of Nigeria mocked us for standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Jonathan in particular—by extension, south-south zone.
In 2019, we gave similar massive support to another northerner cum Fulani, Atiku Abubakar—picking his running mate from the east not withstanding. We have built enough bridges by supporting others. And it is time for others to reciprocate the gesture. We cannot play second fiddle forever. For five years, Ndigbo have been segregated against by Buhari’s government because of our political choices in the past that didn’t favour him. But we have been vindicated by severally rejecting him at the polls, especially when juxtaposed with perennial leadership failure Nigeria has suffered under his watch.
It is heart-wrenching and disappointing that those we laid down our lives in support in the past, cannot be bold enough to campaign for Nigerian president of southeast extraction. Instead, they’re scheming to truncate southeast 2023 aspiration via their own immortal ambitions. Take for instance, the rumors of Jonathan’s interest in 2023 race and his loud silence to it: it is a grave insult on our collective intelligence as Ndigbo. Goodluck Jonathan, haven’t we supported you enough to reciprocate the gesture?
Atiku Abubakar is also nursing ambition even when another northerner will be completing eight-year term by 2023. Like Jonathan, Ndigbo massively supported Atiku in 2019 and are still suffering consequences of it today. Yet both Goodluck Jonathan and Atiku Abubakar have not only maintained conspicuous silence on southeast aspiration, but have the moral promiscuity to be working behind-the-scene to frustrate Southeast ambition. That we have supported the PDP since 1999 doesn’t make us slaves of the party.
In fact, the PDP should be made to understand that they will no longer live rent-free on southeast votes. An average easterner is not wired cum programmed to be sheepishly voting the PDP every election cycle. We might have voted against Buhari in the past but that doesn’t mean we will continue to vote against the APC in the future, because there is no ideological difference between the APC and the PDP—it is just election-purpose vehicle to get into offices.
Governor Wike recently said that the PDP was more interested in winning election than zoning. We got the subtle message: the party won’t win if it zones its presidential ticket to South-East. If South-East votes are that immaterial cum inconsequential, why is the same Governor Wike pained that Umahi and one or two governors of the southeast are leaving the PDP for APC? Isn’t that nauseating hypocrisy? simply because he feels, as the godfather of the PDP, that southeast votes are always a sure bet for the opposition party. Times have changed.
Even if the whole southeast becomes APC today, that is not a warranty that the ruling party will zone its presidential ticket to us, but can be a protest against the PDP that have taken our loyalty cum support, all these years, for granted. APC is not owning us reciprocity but PDP does. Until Atiku Abubakar, Goodluck Jonathan, Nyesom Wike, Aminu Tambuwal and other PDP leaders start speaking up in support of Nigerian president of South-East extraction come come 2023, South-East political leaders does not owe them any explanation for leaving the party in droves.