Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi has vowed to carry on from where President Muhammadu Buhari would have stopped by the end of his tenure if elected president in 2023.
“This is my conviction and that we can also build from where Mr President (Buhari) would stop,” Mr Umahi said. “I am also close to Mr President. I know his heartbeat for the country, and I know what he desires for this country. So, I think that I understand his programmes and his policies and his integrity, coupled with what we have done in Ebonyi state, and it can add and help the country.”
Mr Umahi disclosed this in an interview on Channels TV on Tuesday night, shortly after declaring he will run for president in 2023.
Speaking further, he stated, “I feel within me that the country is passing through a phase and I believe strongly that the miracles that God helped us to do in Ebonyi state by reason of all the successes we made in all the economic indices and all our programmes, that if given the opportunity, we can replicate it at the national level.”
Mr Umahi’s statement came barely 24 hours after APC national leader Bola Tinubu announced that he would contest the presidency in 2023 to build on Mr Buhari’s legacy.
Mr Buhari’s regime has been characterised by gross violation of human rights abuse, insecurity and economic hardship. Under his regime, Nigerians witnessed the massacre of Shiite protesters in Zaria in 2015, with over 300 members of the Islamic group killed by Nigerian soldiers and buried in shallow graves.
Similarly, in 2016, Amnesty International condemned the Buhari regime after soldiers killed over 150 unarmed Indigenous Peoples of Biafra. On October 20, 2020, soldiers fired shots on #EndSARS protesters, mostly youths remonstrating against police brutality and extortion.
Though Mr Buhari promised to combat insecurity during his campaign in 2015, under his watch, insecurity has taken a more dreadful trajectory with bandits, Boko Haram, kidnappers, and unknown gunmen killing and kidnapping for ransom across the country.
Mr Umahi, who is banking on the APC zoning its presidential ticket to South-East, had maintained a public perception of a performing governor until January 2021, when Peoples Gazette, in a report, exposed how he massively diverted state funds into his personal company account.
According to bank documents, between 2011 and 2019, Mr Umahi has diverted about N3.6 billion into his Brass Engineering, a company he has owned since 1993, since after he became deputy governor to Martin Elechi in 2011, in brazen disregard for extant code of conduct regulations precluding senior public officials from conducting private businesses, except subsistence agriculture, while in office.
Angered by The Gazette’s report, an aide of Mr Umahi in a phone call threatened to kill the online newspaper’s reporters, fuming that The Gazette’s exposing of Mr Umahi’s corruption “could cost lives.”