The Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi, on Tuesday said while he is not against the choice of former Governor Peter Obi as the running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, he disliked the process leading to his (Obi) selection.
Mr Umahi stated this in an interview with journalists in Abakaliki, the state capital.
The governor faced a backlash when he led leaders of the party to complain against the selection process that threw up Mr Obi as vice presidential candidate of the party. Many accused him of sabotaging the interest of the Igbo nation.
But, Mr Umahi while clearing the air, said he was only against the process and not the competence of Mr Obi.
He questioned ”how people from other regions will meet and take decisions that concern the South-east without the input of a single person from the region.
“We have never said that we are against Peter Obi; but what we have said is that, if six people can come together from five other regions and look at recommendations for the South-east and no South-east person is there, that is not good for us.
“We have never said that Obi is not good for us, we have nothing against Obi. But we want when decisions that concern us are being taken, we want to be part of that decision,” Mr Umahi said.
The governor also expressed displeasure at the ‘imbalance’ in the initial five-member shortlist of persons being considered for the VP slot which he said ”had no person from Imo and Ebonyi States on it.”
“Number two, the five names submitted, of course, no governors in South-east wants to be vice president; everybody wants to finish his tenure. The five names for VP should have been five names from the five South-east states; but there was no name from Ebonyi and Imo states.
“I am a fighter of marginalisation of Ebonyi people. If we are going to vote, we must be treated with equity. These are the issues; two names came from Anambra, one from Enugu and two from Abia. So, what is wrong in having someone from Ebonyi and then one from Imo?
”These are the issues but they are not as terrible as it is being looked at. I know that my people put me on social media saying so many terrible things about me but it doesn’t move me.
“We must sit down with the presidential candidate and say look if we work together, we must be part of the decision-making. I am not talking about myself. I am talking about the leadership of the South-east.”
He said the region would continue to fight against any form of marginalisation in the political process.
“You remember that one of the reasons that the Ebonyi man is not too comfortable with the issue of the region is that we are afraid of further marginalisation. So, these are the issues. Obi is my friend. You would have seen our pictures on the social media. Yes, he is my good friend and we have worked together very very well. He (Obi) said something to me: ”If I were you, I will be more bitter, I will make a greater noise than you are making.”
“Obi understands. And let me give you one shocking news. I was told in the course of our meeting in Enugu that somebody asked Chekwas Okorie (chairman, United Progressive Party) why is it that Igbo don’t vote for vice presidential candidates from their region and Chekwas told him that any day the Igbo man chooses (is allowed to choose) his vice presidential candidate, the Igbo man will vote for the vice presidential candidate and if you check, be it (Alex) Ekwueme or any other, you will find out that we have never voted along that line.”