From Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Those who are not conversant with the history of Chairman, South East Governors’ Forum (SEGF) and Governor, Ebonyi State, Chief David Umahi, would presume that he was born with a silver spoon. This is more so given his quick rise to wealth and fame.
It is said that Umahi was already a millionaire and philanthropist before he was 25 years old. The story of how he moved from the business world into the murky waters of politics to become governor has long been told. However, what many people may not know is that Umahi had a humble beginning. Yet, he did not allow his rustic background to affect his life negatively.
He did not hesitate to narrate his history on July 25, 2021,when the high and mighty, including his Abia counterpart, Dr Okezie Ikpeazu, leadership of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, other Igbo leaders, politicians, family members and well wishers rolled out drums in commemoration of his 58th birthday:
“Let me thank all the people who put this event together presided by the Deputy Governor, Dr Kelechi Igwe; Mr Speaker, my brother, Austin; executive council members, ALGON, House of Assembly members and others. Earlier this morning by 6 I was ambushed.
“Let me confess that I did everything possible to dodge this birthday celebration. In our house, we are not used to celebrating birthdays because we were not born rich. Our father and our mother were poor famers, but very honest farmers; but very rich in the sense that they brought all of us up, and gave us good manners, godliness and good education.
“And today we represent them. We are not used to celebrating birthdays. But I can tell you now that I think I have been missing a lot (laughs). Going forward, I will be celebrating it. In fact, I will celebrate 58 and a half.”
Ikpeazu who proposed the birthday toast, described Umahi as a great achiever who has done so much to develop Ebonyi State. The Abia State Governor who is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said those who expected him not to attend Umahi’s birthday because they belonged to different political parties were short sighted: “Umahi and I had been good friends and brothers before we both became governors and we shall remain so even after we leave office.”
President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, Prof George Obiozor, said Umahi is the epitome of the can-do-spirit of the Igbo man: “We are here to celebrate the birthday of one of our best and brightest sons. Take it from me, the leadership of Governor David Umahi as the Chairman of South East Governors’ Forum is something that has made some of us happy, and we want to thank him for his efforts.
“Anyone who comes around Ebonyi will get the true meaning of transformation, development and excellent performance. He has demonstrated the Igbo spirit; the can-do-spirit of Igbo man. This is one man who has demonstrated the Igbo spirit of turning difficulties into opportunities beyond every doubt. And it is this spirit that the Igbo need to succeed in Nigeria.”
Chairman, South East Elders’ Council (SEEC), Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu, described as an illustrious son of Igbo land who sacrificed to fight and fend for the zone: “I am here today to join Ebonyi people in giving honour to this illustrious son of Igbo land. I want to, on behalf of the elders of Igbo land, congratulate and thank him for what he is doing for the people of the South East. If not for him, this Ohanaeze you see today wouldn’t have been possible.”
A thanksgiving service was held at Christ Embassy Church, Mile 50, Abakaliki. Senior pastor of the church, Peter Oyeyemi, in his sermon, “Time, purpose and opportunity,” said: “The most important task is to discover your purpose and to fulfil it.
“God expects us to spend our lives for the development of His kingdom and for humanity. True happiness and joy comes from the joy we give to others especially the less privileged ones around us. When God has blessed you, you have to be a blessing to others, and this is where Umahi is outstanding.”
Immediately after the service, the governor proceeded to hospitals, old peoples and motherless homes, within the state capital. He paid hospital bills of indigent patients and gave succour to the less privileged.