Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi on Wednesday said his statement that he belong to both the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) was taken out of context.
A story broken by this newspaper on the governor making the statement went viral, but Umahi, through his Special Assistant on Media, Francis Nwaze, said the report was “slanted”.
The story, by which The Nation stands, was based on an unedited video in which the governor made the statement.
His exact words in the video were quoted.
Addressing the people of Ishielu and Onicha Local Government Areas, who paid him Christmas homage, Umahi said: “Stay in one place. Don’t run from here to there and from there to here. E no make sense.
“If you say you dey there (APC), know I am already there. If you go to APC, I am an APC member. If you go to PDP, I am there.
“I am the only person that does anti-party and nothing will happen. Any other person that does anti-party is gone.
“So, I am representing you in APC while you all stay in PDP. If you like, go and write it on social media.”
But, Nwaze said he “stared into space in utter disbelief and deep consternation” after reading the report, which he said was the work of “mischief makers”, who “could skew and slant issues to gain favour”.
He said in a statement: “This is not healthy for our enduring democracy. In a clime such as ours where sycophancy reigns supreme as against sincerity, creating a smooth relationship with elder statesmen with zilch considerations to political and creedal leaning, become a problem – leaving one to wonder which way becomes the best, rather than sincerity? The answer is in the negative.
“Recall on innumerable occasions have Governor Umahi vowed never to be swayed or carried away by the euphoria of power and start swimming in the dirty and murky waters of unhealthy criticisms of the opposition party – especially at the centre.
“Governor Umahi said President Mohammadu Buhari has proven beyond doubt his irrevocable commitments to right too many wrongs done by corruption in our dear country, Nigeria, by waging war against corruption.
“He maintained that the President’s posture is for the nation’s interest and should be supported by all.
“And he has been supporting Mr President by not making acidic comments on the person of the President on his policy issue even as a member of the opposition party as he believes that party is different from a personal relationship.”
According to Nwaze, the governor was enamoured by President Buhari’s leadership style, which has not gone down well with some.
“This father-son relationship has, in some jaundiced quarters, pitted him against some power brass who positioned media attackers to misconstrue and quote Governor Umahi out of context at every occasion,” he said.
Explaining the circumstances in which the governor made the statement, the spokesman said: “It was precisely on 29th December 2019 during the Christmas season that delegates from Onicha and Ishielu Council Areas of Ebonyi State came to celebrate the yuletide with Governor Umahi and thank him for the new Federal College of Education that was graciously given to Ebonyi State by President Buhari.
“While responding to them, Governor Umahi remarked that many National Assembly members have kept on claiming to be responsible for the citing of the College in Ebonyi when in actual sense, it was an executive order and never influenced by any legislature.
“He thanked Mr President for the approval of the citing of the college in Ebonyi State while advising some political stakeholders from the state, especially members of the National Assembly, to stop playing politics with the new Federal College of Education.
“He explained that the College was not subjected to political and party lense (sic) before being given it to Ebonyi State, cautioning: ‘stop running from one party to another, my loyalty is hundred per cent for PDP. I have the highest degree of respect for President Buhari even though it makes them accuse me of anti-party but Politics should be separated from personal relationship…’
“Since Governor Umahi made that remark, enemies of the state took to social and mainstream media to lash at him – concocting all manner of write-ups geared towards smearing his image before the public.
“Governor David Umahi has declared that he is not available to discuss politics until it is about one year to the election period as he maintained that now is time to work for those that voted him and not to do politics.
“There’s no possibility of being both in APC and PDP at the same time.”
Nwaze said Umahi was elected under the PDP, of which he was the former state chairman, adding that he also served as deputy governor on the platform.
“His landmark and envious achievements speak volume.
“Rather than getting the polity turbocharged by incendiary comments of opaque and self-serving elements masquerading as journalists, may I urge members of the public to ignore the charade making the rounds on social and mainstream media about Governor Umahi’s dual political loyalty as such exist in the wild imagination of the author,” the media aide said.