Mr. Emmanuel Umohinyang is a lawyer and philanthropist. He is the founder of Emmanuel Umohinyang Foundation, a Lagos-based charity group that has, for ten years, constantly catered to the needs of widows, orphans, indigent students and other vulnerable members of the society.
But these days, Umohinyang is involved in what he calls a more nationalistic enterprise. He is the convener of the Re-elect Buhari Movement (RBM), a group with about eight million volunteers that have been combing the nooks and crannies of the country, seeking a second term for President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the past few weeks, the movement has been mounting campaigns through advertisement in the newspapers, detailing what it calls the sterling accomplishments of the present administration. In the views of the group’s promoters, Buhari has done a yeoman’s job in the past three and half years and is deserving of four more years to enable him conclude the assignment.
At a recent encounter with journalists, Umohinyang described Buhari as an uncommon leader with passion for the country and its people. Umohinyang said it was the late erudite lawyer and human rights advocate,Chief Gani Fawehinmi that told his followers to start supporting Buhari. He recalled that Fawehinmi had, after losing the presidential election in 2003, vowed never to seek the country’s top job again.
“Before the 2007 election, he called us and told us that henceforth, we should start supporting President Buhari. And it was widely reported. Gani raised Buhari’s hands and said we should all rally round the president. Since then, we have been supporting Buhari.”
Besides the endorsement by Fawehinmi, Umohinyang said those in the RBM also studied the president thoroughly and concluded that Buhari was a man that meant well for the country. He said after considering what the country had gone through between 1999 and 2015, it was evident that only someone like Buhari could steer the country’s ship back to the appropriate channels.
He said his group studied the past administrations of Obasanjo, Yar’Adua and Jonathan, and noted the performance of each. “It was the last administration that gave us the zeal to say, ‘no, we must not continue on this path.’
“It was an administration that nearly totally destroyed the country. Agents of the state were openly carting away money from the Central Bank. That sort of thing had never happened in the history of the country. Till date, we are still hearing incredible stories of monumental robbery of our commonwealth by some prominent officials of that regime.”
He insisted that the Buhari administration had stayed true to its three-point agenda – tackling corruption, revamping the economy and fighting insecurity. Besides, asserted the RBM convener, Buhari has been busy fixing infrastructure in the country at a rate never witnessed before.
“I will give you one example,” said Umohinyang. “In 2010, former President Goodluck Jonathan went to campaign in Anambra State. He stood on the Niger Bridge and said if he did not complete the second Niger Bridge, he would go on exile. Well, we all know what happened thereafter. The Buhari administration is massively working on the Second Niger Bridge as we speak,” he stated.
The lawyer and philanthropist, who is from Akwa Ibom State, said members of his group are drawn from different political parties. Many of us are not even members of the All Progressives Congress. I am not a member of the APC. All we want is that Buhari should be re-elected. We are not involved in any other campaign. We do not campaign for any governor.”
Asked how the RBM is funded, Umohinyang explained that the group is self-sponsored.
“Whenever we need to do anything, members of our group get together and pledge whatever we can. That is how we are funded. We are not funded by the federal government or any state governor. As a matter of fact, several governors have made offers to us to give us funding, but we refused. You would no longer be independent once you begin to collect money from governors. They would want to use you for their own campaigns or for some other purposes. And you know Buhari would not even give you a dime. But we are happy doing it.”
Umohinyang said he was part of the president’s trip to China last year, even though it was self-sponsored. “At the meeting with Nigerians, I shared some of our flyers which had photographs of some completed roads in some parts of the country. One of those at the meeting saw the photograph of a newly completed road that passes through his father’s compound. He even saw the excited photographs of his parents. He was surprised.”
He said his group has structures in all the states, local governments and wards across the country, and as such, is well informed of goings-on across the country. He said every developmental effort of the government is well documented by his group, adding that within the next few days, the group would start publicising some of the achievements as advertorials in the newspapers.
“Massive road constructions are ongoing all over the country. This is no hearsay. Long abandoned projects are being revived. You are aware of the rail projects that have been abandoned. You are aware of the Ajaokuta Steel Company is coming back to life after 40 years. And you know the government has done extremely well in the agriculture sector. Local rice has become the preferred food for many. So much has been done and so much is being done. And we believe that the next four years will fully concretise these achievements. This government is gradually changing the narrative. We are steadily moving away from having oil as our only source of revenue. In three and half years, this government has done what the Peoples Democratic Party could not achieve in 16 years. It is only natural that we ask the government to continue. After the next four years, our people would be extremely happy that a government had, at last, fixed Nigeria’s infrastructural challenges.”
He admitted that the resurgence of Boko Haram insurgents in some parts of Borno State was demoralising, but quickly explained that the federal government had always risen to the occasion. This, he noted, was a clear departure from the situation in the past.
“Even Abuja was not spared then,” he recalled. “Police headquarters, United Nations Building and other horrible bombing took place right within the federal capital. No one could hold any event within the Eagles Square. The president could not even host any function within the forecourt of the villa. It was that bad. Ceremonies were held inside the house. Things have drastically improved.”
Some Nigerians have alleged that some past leaders in court on corruption charges promptly have their cases withdrawn by government once they move close to President Buhari’s camp. But Umohinyang pooh-poohed such allegations.
“Mention just one case,” he challenged. “Are we going to stop people’s right to associate because they have cases in court? As far as I know, no such case exists. It was under another administration that a convicted felon was given speedy presidential pardon just because the fellow was a former boss of the then president.”
He also dismissed the innuendoes in some quarters that Buhari has been a terrible politician. “I don’t know what those making such allegations mean,” he countered. “But if being a bad politician means not sharing money to certain individuals but using such money to develop critical national infrastructure, then I will support that bad politician. Imagine, it’s election time, yet the president has not opened up the treasury. It has never happened in this current dispensation.”
The lawyer informed that after the presidential election next month, the RBM platform would have concluded its assignment and would be shut down permanently.