The recent spat or verbal war between the incumbent governor of Ebonyi State, Engr. David Nweze Umahi, and former Senate President and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, is to say the least very disgusting and appalling. The way and manner the two eminent sons of Ebonyi State, Igbo land and Nigeria washed their dirty political linens in the public square is very disappointing and disgraceful. Apart from its absurdity, it is odious and full of bile and hate.
The recrimination left a sour taste in the mouth and will make some elders to shed tears for some of our politicians and their brand of politics which they practice without ethics and morality. Can’t they learn to play the political game without rancor and bitterness. The sky is big enough for all birds to fly. Although some people go with the mindset that there is no morality in politics, I tend to think otherwise. There should be morality in politics. There should be dos and don’ts in politics. Politics without morality will lead to atrophy and current underdevelopment we are witnessing in Nigeria. It will lead to massive sleaze and abuse of power and other devils associated with why Nigeria is not working the way it ought to.
The quarrel between the duo, which started soon after Umahi ported to the All Progressives Congress (APC) from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was quick in coming and therefore uncalled for. It signals the bad things in our politics. It is not a good advertisement for our brands and must be jettisoned forthwith. Umahi’s defection, no matter the motives or how it was executed, should not generate the unwarranted dissipation of energy. Their dancing in the market square is a clear indication that something is fundamentally wrong with Nigerian politics and politicians.
Our politicians are invariably the same thing irrespective of whether they are in the PDP or APC. They can be in any party and you will not notice any difference. There may be exceptions but they are not many. The good ones are not yet born. Why are these gentlemen tearing themselves apart? Why have they decided to expose their secrets and those things they do in secret? Why the ‘Tarka me, I Dabor you’ warfare? There are strong indications that the spat has everything to do with the politics of 2023 and who gets what and through what agency.
There may be some underlying factors that ignited the war of words, but the immediate factor was the carpet crossing of Umahi and the alleged betrayal that followed it.Umahi felt that Anyim, Egwu, Ogba, Odefa and others betrayed him for staying in the PDP instead of following him to port to APC as planned. They had denied any such arrangement and blamed Umahi for not consulting before the defection. Both Umahi and Anyim exchanged hot words over the issue including the one-page open letter Anyim wrote to Umahi and copied to President Muhammadu Buhari, the Inspector-General of Police and others published in the Daily Sun of December 2, 2020 page 9.
The letter was a response to Umahi’s reported media briefing where Umahi was quoted as alleging that “some Ebonyi people are engaging cultists and according to them some IPOB members to start killing and causing crisis in Ebonyi State in the name of fighting Ebonyi State Government and the governor and their leader is Senator Anyim Pius Anyim and other members are Dr. Sam Egwu, Senator Obinna Ogba, Mr Ali Odefa and others.”
That letter was so revealing. It didn’t pretend to hide anything seen and unseen. Certainly, the letter contains some things that should have been left out entirely. Like bikini, it revealed more than it could hide. The veracity of every detail in the said letter is also debatable. Without doubt, people are bound to perceive the letter differently depending on which side they belong. Some readers may take it as the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But some discerning readers and critical minds won’t do the same. They will subject the letter to empirical analysis and textual exegesis before arriving at the hidden truth. Agreed that the letter has some truths, fiction, politics and propaganda mixed.
On the other hand, what Umahi and his camp said to Anyim in recanting some aspects of Anyim’s missive cannot be entirely true. Their reaction went too far. It must have been coloured with bias and politics. But the Joseph Nkama Ekumankama’s angle to the entire drama is a misnomer. Ekumankama, who is the state’s Commissioner for Investment and Abuja Liaison had in an advertorial in the Daily Sun of December 4, 2020 page 29 withdrew his surety for Anyim over an alleged pending matter with EFCC.
His entry into the fight between Umahi and Anyim is needless and ill-advised. What is his own in the fight between two elephants. He should have stayed clear and watch the combatants from the sidelines or mediate to ensure peace. His angle to the fight is petty, cheap and de-marketing of Anyim. His meddlesomeness and that of others might have strained further the relationship between Umahi and Anyim. As we move towards 2023 when we have argued in this space that it will be the turn of the Ndigbo of South East to produce Nigerian president after waiting for so many decades, this is not the time for any of our sons to engage in dirty fights and avoidable quarrels.
This is not the time to tell others how and what we are. This period calls on us to eschew violence and avoid picking quarrels so easily. I have argued some weeks ago that Umahi has a right to port to any party of his choice. He also has a right to aspire to any position he wants in the country. At the same time, he needs peace and the support of the people, especially his own people, in his future political ambition. As the governor of Ebonyi state, he should not pick quarrels with his subjects so easily. He should be accommodating of opposing views and be tolerant of dissents. He should be building bridges of friendship and not walls of enmity. He does not need enemies now.
Tolerating opposing views is the beauty of democracy. We need plurality of views and ideas. Igboland needs peace and Nigeria needs peace. All the needless quarrels will lead us to nowhere. On the other hand, Anyim has a right to be in any party of his choice and aspire to any position in the land. All of us need not be in one political party. We must have presence in the two leading political parties and others. Let us not allow the 2023 ambition to tear us apart even before the race starts. I say this because there are other Igbo sons and daughters who are eminently qualified to vie for any post in the land.
The political sphere is enough for every player but we must be cautious and circumspect in the way and manner we go about 2023 so as not to make avoidable mistakes. We must put our best foot forward. We must speak with one voice and feature the best among us. However, we must dialogue with other geo-political zones for their support. We must avoid shooting one another on the leg with a view to de-market the person.
So, let there be truce between Umahi and Anyim and others in the feud. Let them see the need for peace and reconciliation. The task ahead needs the cooperation of all and sundry.