There is something called withdrawal syndrome. I first heard of it in 2006/2007 from the mouths of then Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar. Do you recall his fight with his principal, Olusegun Obasanjo, and how the man used his powers as President to ‘deal’ with his deputy? At a point in their quarrel, Obasanjo started behaving like a bull in a china shop. He was ready to decimate anyone who stood with Atiku. He withdrew all aides attached to the VP. Atiku laughed off the whole fight and said that his principal was suffering from withdrawal syndrome. I haven’t forgotten.
Withdrawal syndrome is used more in the field of medicine. It is also called “discontinuation syndrome” and is said to occur in “individuals who have developed physiological dependence on a substance and who discontinue or reduce their use of it.” Symptoms of withdrawal syndrome are listed in emedicine.medscape.com to include “insomnia, irritability, changing moods, depression, anxiety, aches and pains, cravings, fatigue, hallucinations, and nausea.” It is also said that anyone suffering from withdrawal syndrome “may be hot and cold, have goosebumps, or have a runny nose as if they have a cold.”
What is happening in Ebonyi state, with Governor David Nweze Umahi, bears the symptoms of Withdrawal Syndrome. The governor acts hot and cold sometimes. He exhibits signs of someone who is looking at the reality of May 29, 2023, with trepidation.
The reality that his powers as governor, one that he deploys to whatever end irrespective of their constitutional and legal limits, would soon come to an end, seem, also, to leave him with bouts of anxiety making him irritated with whatever the opposition, or, anyone challenging his powers, does. Sometimes, he hits Ebonyi state with actions that suggest that he had a sleepless night hallucinating over how he was probably created to remain eternally within power circles.
But, the reality is that the jubilation that followed the High Court decision sacking him from office for the transfer of votes belonging to PDP to the APC, which he did when he defected, ought to have been a peep into the fact that not a majority of Ebonyi people, especially, from his home senatorial zone, are happy with his record of tolerance and accommodation of opposite views. Before now, most people in Ebonyi state lived in fear of a youth group called Akubaraoha Youths, said to be a dreaded band of youths who enforce a dictum of ‘see no evil, say no evil’, on behalf of the governor. And, they are always part of his convoy. Many people in the state, including journalists, have stories to tell of painful, and sometimes, bloody encounters with the Akubaraoha Youths. The situation has not changed. Instead, more dreadful groups are said to have been created to help secure 2023.
And, it seems that with the fast approach of the February 2023 general elections, Akubaraoha Youths are becoming more dastardly in the enforcement of the abuse of human rights, and the establishment of themselves as foot soldiers deployed against orderliness, good public conduct, and the abridgment of the people’s right to exercise of their freedom of association and the freedom to elect who so ever they want from the pack of available candidates.
The recent action on Linus Okorie, the Labour Party senatorial candidate, who the people of Ebonyi South seem to be backing against Umahi; and the threats on the life of Dr. Nkata Chuku, the APGA Deputy Governorship Candidate, who also hails from Umahi’s Ebonyi South, bring the governor to the table as highly intolerant and bitter that younger and more vibrant folks are rising to stake their hold on the political leadership of their state.
Governor Umahi, who many now nickname King David, because of his unbearable negative use of power, has done well for the state no doubt. He has upped the ante in infrastructure rehabilitation and development across Ebonyi. He has built concrete roads though many experts say the roads need to be asphalted too.
He has built flyovers across many road intersections in the state and decorated them colourfully. He built a university for the state, built markets and rural roads among several other actions taken to give human capital development in the state the desired boost. But, he ought to accept the reality that electoral offices, like the senate, are not tokens of appreciation for the job done. Even where a governor deserves to represent people of any senatorial zone at the senate, he must be able to accept the reality that such office is open to contest and that the winner will be announced after the ballots are cast, rigged, or not rigged.
Therefore, those who believe that Umahi is so good to retire to the Senate in 2023 ought to also accord other candidates in the race their right to compete because it is a democracy and not a philosopher-king disposition. Every candidate in an election looks forward to exercising his or her electoral franchise and to either win or be defeated at the polling booth; not defeated by coercion and reckless use of executive powers applied through state apparatuses who act as proxies. The people of Ebonyi ought to be allowed to elect their representatives. Coercing them to become APC will be counterproductive and will fail.
It should also be obvious to Umahi, by now, that he miscalculated in defecting to APC. He probably had calculated that the entire population will follow him to APC to enable him to strike a bargain. But he miscalculated. He did not take to mind the fact that APC is anathema in the southeast principally because of the way the party ostracized the region from governance. Ebonyi people have also shown resilience and purpose in rejecting the party. All the top PDP leaders that Umahi believed will join him in APC disappointed him.
He is literally alone in Ebonyi APC. That makes the next election unlikely to produce the results that he envisages for APC as all the PDP top guns in the state are waiting to see what magic he would deploy to defeat them in their enclaves. This could be the reason he is becoming much more and more desperate, and seemingly ruthless, in using executive powers to force certain decisions, including his handpicked preferred successor, down on Ebonyi people. However, the resistance he is getting will likely make Ebonyi observe a bloody election in 2023. Most people in the state, including many in APC who can longer bear his excesses, now prefer to work quietly towards 2023 instead of attracting the Kings wrath and those of the Akubaraoha Youth gang.
This may translate to electoral disappointment for the governor next February. Perhaps, the understanding of this reality is making him exhibit symptoms that are associated with a withdrawal syndrome. Perhaps too, this is why Qoholet says all is but vanity and chase after the wind. And, if things go the way many in Ebonyi envisage, the Umahi-era would be gone with the wind by May 29, 2023.