Barely 24 hours after the national leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinunbu informed President Muhammadu Buhari of his intention to contest for 2023 presidential election, the governor of Ebonyi state, Dave Umahi on Tuesday also told the President his intention to run for the presidency.
Governor Umahi disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting behind closed doors with the President.
Umahi said he had equally informed the President just like the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who disclosed his interest on Monday at the State House.
He said the President advised him to consult widely.
Asked whether his discussion with the President on politics had to do with presidential political ambition, Umahi said: “Well, generally, yes and no. We discussed politics as the growth of our party, APC, in Nigeria, and South East. And, of course, you know, the interest of South East, for the seat of presidency in 2023. And, of course, I told Mr. President, that without prejudice to whatever will be the decision of the party, which we shall abide by, that if the party throws the ticket open or zones to Southern part of Nigeria that I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I will be running for presidency on the platform of the APC.
“So, I told him and of course, he believes that whoever wants to run for president of this country must have to consult widely, go to all the leaders and that we must do everything to remove ethnicity and religion in our politics so that this country can grow.”
Asked whether he had the chance to emerge as the APC presidential candidate after Tinubu declared on Monday having left the PDP for not zoning the ticket to the South East, Umahi said: “The Bible that I swore with, a section of in 1 Samuel says that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belongs to God. He chooses whomever he wills and he will do that in 2020. I’m not in contest with anybody. I’m in contest with myself.”
The governor of Ebonyi State, while responding to the question on whether he had begun his wide consultation, said: “I wouldn’t have done that without first come into clear with Mr. President that there is this feeling in South East that they have not been president and that people feel that those of our leaders in the various political parties should indicate interest to contest. And this is fair, this is important. But at the end of the day, it is God Almighty and the political parties that will also decide.”
When asked whether the February date for the APC national convention was still realistic, he said: “I read on a newspaper sometimes when the party leadership came to brief Mr. President and they told him February convention. Mr. President said yes. He is not a man that says yes and says no, at the same time, he is a man of integrity, he is a man of his words.
“So, I believe that if he ever said February that he is going to stick to that February. I am very sure of that. But it is not for me to speak for the party leadership. I speak for my state.”
On the question of whether he had equally informed Ohaneze Ndigbo, Umahi advised the leadership of the socio-cultural group not to play into politics.
“Yes, they can speak for the interest of the South East, they can speak for fair treatment to South East as people but as a matter of equity, justice and fairness, and leaving a level playing field for all the political parties and the aspirants. They should not dabble into politics or whom to support or whom not to support.
“I think that they hear it just like they heard other political parties’ aspirants. We will also write them to notify them that yes, they have capable sons and daughters that if God wills, that could do this job.”