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Umahi sponsoring violence in Ebonyi state – Onyike

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Umahi sponsoring violence in Ebonyi state - Onyike

Chief Abia Onyike, a chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Ebonyi State, has slammed David Umahi, the immediate past governor of the state, accusing him of sponsoring violence and terrorism in the state, particularly in Edda land, using his lackeys such as Eni Uduma Chima, a former council chairman in the area.

Onyike, a former commissioner for Information and one of the founding fathers of Ebonyi State who submitted the Memo for the inclusion of Edda local government (formerly Afikpo South) in the then proposed Ebonyi State in January 1996, accused Umahi, the current minister of works, of ruining the economy of the state during his time as governor.

A veteran Journalist and former Deputy National President of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Onyike, in this interview with Obinna Ezugwu, also bared his mind on a number of burning issues regarding the governance and politics of Ebonyi state.

Excerpts:

You were quite vocal in criticism of David Umahi when he was governor which got you into trouble a few times…?

Yes, for me, this is the second anniversary of the invasion of my residence in Abakaliki by Umahi’s renegade forces. This last Sunday, 10th March marked the second remembrance of the attack on my family by Umahi’s Ebubeagu Militia group, which he sent to assassinate me, but God did not allow his evil plan to materialize. On the 9th of March, 2022, following the Ruling of the Federal High Court which ordered the removal of Umahi as Governor for defecting from PDP to APC in November, 2020, I appeared on Arise TV interview platform where I took time to dissect the dynamics of his terrible administration in Ebonyi State. The following day, in the wee hours of 2a.m, Umahi sent his Ebubeagu fighters who came to my house and opened fire in a stacatto of machine guns that lasted for more than 30 minutes. My windows, doors, zink, ceilings and furniture were shattered and we escaped death by the whiskers.

Then on 9th November, 2022, the same Umahi’s Ebubeagu abducted me at Octovia Pharmacy in Abakaliki at about 8.15 pm and took me to their torture chambers at the old Government House where they stripped me naked to my boxers, subjected me to merciless torture and threatened to shoot me at point blank range. After about two hours, the IG of Police got wind of the development and directed the State Police Commissioner to fish out my abductors. That was how I was eventually released and the DPO in charge of Ekumenyi Police Division escorted me back to my house. These are the atrocities perpetrated by Umahi. And when a Federal High Court sitting in Abakaliki declared my arrest as illegal, disbanded Ebubeagu and ordered the government to compensate me with N50m for illegal detention, torture and degrading treatment, Umahi quickly appealed the judgement and the matter is still in court.

Umahi is no longer the governor. You now have Francis Nwifuru. Would you say things have changed?

I would say that the political atmosphere is better now. Political violence seems to be out of the equation. In all, Governor Nwifuru has started well. He has paid pensioners their gratuities, revived the education sector which was nearly decimated under Umahi and initiated some empowerment programmes. This is very important. Regardless, Umahi is still hovering around the state trying to assert his influence. In my opinion, he is a liability to Governor Nwifuru of Ebonyi. He has nothing to contribute to Gov Nwifuru’s administration, because when he had the opportunity, he got failed woefully. He governed the state like a man without conscience. His eight-year rule was full of impunity, lawlessness and terror. Umahi’s government was horrible. It was a study in political prebendalism. The so-called projects he put up were mainly useless white elephant projects which had no bearing on the basic needs of the people.

Umahi cancelled scholarships and concentrated on white elephant projects as a strategy for self-service. The flyovers he built are gradually deteriorating because he had no sense of fine finishing in his Engineering works. Everything was shabbily executed because most of the jobs were awarded to his companies or to companies where he had interests. The state procurement policy was undermined because he ran the government as his personal trading enterprise.

Many argue that he actually did well in terms of infrastructure, especially given the financial status of Ebonyi. You think that isn’t a worthy legacy?

The only legacy he Umahi left is a tainted and stinking political legacy in Ebonyi State. Any time he stands with Nwifuru, the masses grumble and the lava of mass resentment flows underground. Ebonyians are horrified by the presence and memories of a tormenting slave master.

However, Umahi’s bankrupt legacy has made him gravitate towards Nwifuru in order to secure a life-line of sociopolitical relevance, otherwise Umahi is a perforated political balloon. He subjected Ebonyians to untold hardship for his self-aggrandisement and covetous ways.

His leadership was a concrete manifestation of mediocrity. Nwifuru has taken up some of the basic things he left undone such as paying retired civil servants their backlog of pensions and gratuities. He has also lifted the ban placed by Umahi on employment for eight years. These are very good steps and an evidence that Umahi left a very terrible void in the governance and development of the state.

You were particular about Umahi’s relationship with the Edda people, to which you belong. What was it about?

I would simply say that Umahi should be advised to stay clear of Edda politics. He wants to play the role of a God-father but his divide and rule tactics caused deaths and untold hardship in some parts of Edda. He is pushing his luck too far by thinking that the people will allow him to come from Abuja to push the case of his controversial surrogates whom he had used to create mayhem in Edda land when he ruled as governor from 2015 to 2023. There is time for everything under the sun. The essence of government is to maintain law and order and to secure the lives of citizens, but in the case of Edda under Umahi the situation was different. He used his state powers and powers of immunity to promote an individual terrorist, who should by now be in jail for crimes against humanity. Instead, Umahi is bent on rehabilitating him to continue his war against his own people. Let’s see how it goes. We are watching.

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It would seem obvious that Umahi has been busy carrying out his assignment as minister of works. Are you saying he is still interfering with local politics?

Yes, he has been coming around to prop up his foot soldiers. We hear that he wants to become Senate President in 2027 and so his structures must be revived for the attainment of such an ambition, which means that he will run for the Senate in the Ebonyi South Senatorial District.

I don’t begrudge him of his right to nurse any political ambition, but what I oppose is his continuous use of Edda as his banana orchard and Edda elements as his experimental tools including those he engages as merchants of death. He should leave Edda alone to experience peace and tranquility instead of his continuous engagement of renegade social forces which he cultivated in his days in office as state governor.

This seems like a loose allegation. What exactly is he doing in Edda?

He is attempting to re-awaken those vestiges of impunity and terror in Edda, but this should be seen as an act of wickedness and political mediocrity. The Security agencies in the state have been recouping large quantities of arms from Eni Uduma Chima and his “More Can Be Done” killer gang and people are worried that these terrorists have become outlaws because of the protection they are getting from the likes of Minister Umahi. Instead of arresting them, they are walking free no thanks to manipulation in high places.

After all the only legacy he bequeathed to Edda during Umahi’s eight years as governor of Ebonyi State was a rampaging and vicious culture of terror perpetrated by his lackey, Eni Uduma Chima, whom he continues to prop up till date, despite having been electorally rejected severally by the people. In his eight-year governance of the state, he did not find Edda people worthy of any government institution to be located there but he sited several institutions and infrastructure in his own area including the University of Medical Sciences, but Edda people are never good for employment-generating institutions.

However, what I assure him is that no matter how long it takes, his reign of impunity and executive recklessness in Ebonyi State from 2015 to 2023 would not go without appropriate legal and legitimate retribution, when the chips are down.

His failed development policies still hunt him till date. Can Umahi explain to Ebonyians what he did to the Oferekpe Water Scheme? He inherited the almost completed water project from the previous government but abruptly abandoned it and started his evil policy of zero water supply which lasted throughout his eight-year tenure. Only now that Gov Nwifuru is addressing the issue of water supply in Abakaliki metropolis.

Or are we to talk about his dehumanizing health policies which emasculated all the general hospitals in eight years, leaving the entire state with only one tertiary hospital run and funded by the Federal Government.

In the educational sector, the story was more terrible. Experts said that many primary schools under Umahi looked like poultry farms while Umahi used chattered aircrafts to fly all over the world feathering his own nest. Ebonyi State University under Umahi went down through poor funding. Only recently did Nwifuru revive the University through a fabulous financial grant. Umahi deliberately cancelled the participation of Ebonyi Youths in all important competitions especially the School Debates where they had made history globally. Umahi disrupted that progress for the youths because of his covetousness. Even in 2018, he refused to pay the necessary fees and thereby prevented Ebonyi Youths from participating in the National Youths Sports Festival but he encouraged his own blood relations to submit their stomachs to the Government House for feeding. What an injustice?

Umahi is shameless. If he were normal, he wouldn’t have resorted to reinventing and re-tooling the old order of political brigandage which he had initiated during his inglorious era of callous governance in Ebonyi State. He would have concentrated in Abuja. But from the look of things, it is clear he wants to re-open old wounds in the state.

Look at the Airport he built near Onueke. It developed a major fault on its runway just two months after it was commissioned. Yet he lied to Ebonyians that he spent N36 Billion, whereas it has been alleged that he spent N47 billion on the airport, which collapsed within a space of two months. But the Airport built by former Governor of Anambra state, Willie Obiano cost only N6 Billion and it is still working and serving the people till date. So, who is fooling who?

I say again that Umahi’s evil plans for Edda people will fail this time around. We shall regain our freedom. The hunter may become the hunted.

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