May 2, 2023

10th NASS: Umahi meets Buhari, says South-East deserves Senate Presidency

Defection: APC leadership presents Umahi to President Buhari at Aso Villa

By Johnbosco Agbakwuru,, Abuja

Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi State and now Senator-elect, has met with President Muhammadu Buhari, saying the South-East deserves the Senate Presidency.

Umahi, during his meeting, informed Buhari of his intent to the President of the 10th Senate. 

The Governor argued that the South-East made considerable efforts towards the victory of President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and that there is the need to carry every sections of the country along.

Governor Umahi also said that the issue of ranking cannot override the Constitution of the country that guarantees equal rights to the citizenry, adding that he has enough leadership records in the public sector as a two-term governor and the private sector as a businessman to lead the 10th Senate.

He cautioned the ruling  party, All Progressives Congress, APC, against choosing its candidate based on vote contributions alone, urging the party to uphold “justice, equity and fairness” when zoning the principal offices of the 10th National Assembly. 

Speaking to State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, he said, “If you say the South-East did not massively vote for APC, at least the South-East massively defended that APC should not be out-voted. This is very important.”

Umahi’s visit came barely 48 hours after two other Senate presidential aspirants, Abdul’Aziz Yari and Godswill Akpabio, visited Buhari to declare their intentions to man the country’s third highest office.

Yari had met Buhari on Sunday evening, explaining that APC should allow the North to produce the next Senate helmsman, having contributed substantial votes towards the victory of the President-elect Bola Tinubu.

Akpabio, who also informed the President of his intention, said he was ready to work with the incoming administration, a promise Umahi also made on Tuesday. 

But Umahi told journalists, “If you look at the true reflection of our society, you will agree with me that the right thing to be done by leaders without prejudice to their rights and their thinking is that the South-East deserves number three position. This is very important.

“I’ve always said that you can deliver somebody by the reason of majority votes of a particular region, but you also need the cooperation of the minority to have a holistic nation to govern. This is very important. 

“So, for inclusiveness, for the unity of the country for everybody to be carried along, nobody has been able to say, this is the reason why South-East should not be given this position.” 

Reacting to earlier remarks by other aspirants who faulted the South-East’s contributions, he said, “Everybody in the South agreed with governors that the next President should come from the South. And that was the position of Governor Wike of Rivers State. That’s why I supported APC. And so, I had to team up with him to ensure we harvested votes in other regions for APC. 

“I think that having played all these roles, having stood for the unity of this country, having boldly moved to APC at a critical time of the EndSars, we deserve a stake. The victory of APC did not come in one day. It didn’t just come during that election. A lot of people worked for it. The northern governors also worked for it.

“That’s why we are advocating and pleading for the understanding of the majority of the people that cast their votes, more than the votes we (in the South-East) gave to our party to show some understanding with us. To show some compassion considering the level of commitment.” 

According to Umahi, the emerging candidate must give the APC a fighting chance in the June election. He added that allowing the South-East to produce the next Senate President would inspire buy-in from the opposition in the National Assembly. 

Fielding question on the issue of ranking in the Senate Rules to on choosing presiding officers, he said he had garnered enough leadership miles in the public sector as a two-term governor and the private sector as a businessman to lead the 10th Senate.

“If you check my pedigree, you’ll find out that I am a man who has handled his businesses from scratch to multi-billions. I was dealing with people. I was not dealing with sticks. That is experience.

“I was a party chairman twice up to five years. I have managed a state successfully for almost eight years. I have all the experience, humility, honesty and integrity,” he stated. 

On his purpose at the State House, Umahi said he came to invite the President to commission the Muhammadu Buhari International Airport in Ebonyi State. 

He revealed that “Our Airport is not a Cargo airport. It is an international airport that handles domestic and international flights, as well as cargo. It is named after President Muhammadu Buhari. So I came to inform him that the airport was ready. We’ve carried out test flights. And it’s ready for him to come and commission.”