Suggestions that the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, will claim a clean sweep in the eastern region of the country at the polls next year suffered came under fresh doubt following the assertive declaration of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State that his state will overwhelmingly vote the All Progressives Congress.
Governor Umahi made the declaration in a recent engagement in his state where, in an address to key stakeholders, he emphasized the irrelevance of the Labour Party in the state and the party’s lack of contribution to its development.
He said: “Our party in Ebonyi State is APC, it is not Labour Party. We will not vote for Labour Party, we will vote for APC. It is the party that is doing all these things for us that we will vote for. The state that the Labour Party has helped should vote for them. No be so?”
“When they come to tell you nonsense, ask them ‘did you vote for us?’ Do not look for our votes, our votes belong to APC.”
Drawing parallels with the APC candidate Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s political and governance moves and drawn up alliances to elevate the standing of the western region in the country’s leadership configuration, he urged the same in the east, encouraging voters to choose a path of ‘liberation’.
He said: “Tinubu started with only one state and used it to elevate his people. We have to liberate our brothers and sisters in the South East. We need it. We need to tell every one of them that we can reason. And don’t be apologetic in saying it. Say it with all boldness.”
Governor Umahi’s statement detracts heavily from claims that Mr Peter Obi’s status as a former governor in the eastern region will cause a clean sweep of the region. It also gives insight into the political calculation of a region wary of pitching its tent with a minnow candidate, lacking the network and influence to win a national election.
Other easterners have made a similar declaration, although their stated reason is connected to Obi’s rumoured alliance with the violent secessionist group IPOB causing terror in parts of the region and responsible for several murders, including of prominent easterners.
Despite repeating his commitment to a peaceful election, candidate Obi has refused to condemn and dissociate his campaign from the group, even after repeated prompts from well-meaning citizens concerned about the threats and other intimidation tactics often deployed by his followers known as the ‘Obidients’.