From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, yesterday, formally declared for the presidential race with a pledge to transform Nigeria if elected in the 2023 poll.
Umahi met with President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House Abuja to officially notify him of his intention to contest under the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His declaration came barely 24 hours after former Lagos State governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, declared his ambition to contest for the presidential ticket.
The Ebonyi Governor said the president advised him to consult widely.
When asked what his chances would be, against the background that other big political figures had indicated their intentions to run for the same office, he said God would be the decider of the outcome of the race. He said he believed that the contest was not about might.
“The Bible that I swore with, a section of it in 1 Samuel says that by strength shall no man prevail, and power and might belong to God. He chooses whomever he wills and He will do that in 2023. I’m not in contest with anybody, I’m in contest with myself,” he said.
Umahi, who left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the APC, reiterated his earlier stance that the former ruling party was not ready to cede the 2023 ticket to the South East, adding that he stood a chance if the APC threw the ticket open.
He said if given the opportunity, his presidency would replicate his effort in Ebonyi State at the national level.
“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 zoned to Southern part of Nigeria that I believe that with what I have put in place in the past six years plus, that I’ll be running for the presidency on the platform of 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.”
Umahi said his presidency would replicate what he did in Ebonyi in terms of building of infrastructure, and will bring experience of construction to bear.
Asked if he had commenced consultations with various interests to gain support for his aspiration, especially with South East stakeholders like Ohanaeze Ndigbo, the governor said he had to do the first thing first, by informing the president.
“I wouldn’t have done that without first coming to clear with Mr. President that there is this feeling in the South East that have not been president and that our 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.”
The governor also said he spoke with the president about resolving the security crisis bugging the South East through political solutions, to which he said could be achieved by getting consensus and out of court settlement.
“Let me also add that as the chairman of South East governors forum that I support a political solution to our insecurity problems in South East. And of course, I mentioned it to Mr. President.”