By Obinna Oke
These are not the best of times for Governor Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru of Ebonyi State. Emergent facts before the Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal sitting at the National Judicial Council headquarters in Abuja has shown that, Nwifuru, the lanky Ebonyi State governor, was at all material time and for all intents and purposes not qualified to contest the election into the exalted office of the Governor of Ebonyi State. Apart from the breach of section 177 (c) of the Nigerian constitution by belonging to two political parties at the same time and/or being sponsored by a political party he did not belong to, Nwifuru also violated section 109(1)(g) of the constitution by refusing to vacate his position as member of Ebonyi State House of Assembly upon his purported switch from the political platform he was elected, PDP, to another political platform, APC.
Obviously, the former governor of Ebonyi State and three-month senator of Ebonyi South whom Nwifuru served like a minion was very unfair to Nwifuru. Just like the treasury of Ebonyi State, Nwifuru’s political career is about to go down in history as another victim of Umahi’s voluptuous ambition and wild pursuit of political relevance. During Engr. David Umahi’s drunken regency in Ebonyi State, every other person followed David Umahi with a measure of restraint, but Nwifuru followed David Umahi in his odd political switches, believing that such was the surest plug to becoming a governor. In the end, Nwifuru got power but before then, he had contaminated his standing before the Nigerian constitution beyond remedy. He was inaugurated as governor of Ebonyi State at a time he was unfit to become a governor as was proved before the Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal which ominous verdict on the facts and law before it is imminent.
Like Nwifuru, David Umahi equally burnt his fingers on the alter of his vaulting ambition to become the generalissimo of Ebonyi politics. After contesting the offices of President and Vice-president, he landed at the Nigerian Senate through an incurably forged mandate. Upon the discovery of David Umahi’s act of forgery and sensing the approach of the legal hammer, machiavellian David Umahi sought political alibi and refuge in the ministerial appointment of President Tinubu where he is seen as the most confused and unstable Nigerian politician. Like all selfish people, Umahi seems to have abandoned Nwifuru to stew in the juice of the mess they both generated in pursuit of their pyrrhic mandates.
Minister David Umahi’s current body language lends credence to the allegations that all he wanted in 2023 was the retention of political power in his Ebonyi South and perpetual political decimation and domination of Abakaliki bloc. For instance, after leaving PDP in November, 2020, he frustrated the political party with all his weight as a governor until his nephew, Chief Ifeanyi Odii, from old Ohaozara surprisingly emerged the governorship candidate of the political party. During the electioneering campaigns, several severe attempts were made to assassinate Prof. Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh who was the only viable and unencumbered governorship candidate from Abakaliki bloc by people suspected to be agents of Ebonyi State Government under the superintendence of Engr. David Umahi. As these happened, Engr. David Umahi’s nephew who was the standard bearer of PDP in the 2023 Ebonyi Governorship Election held colourful campaigns and tours in all the 13 local government areas and 171 wards in Ebonyi State without any restraint or attacks from either Engr. David Umahi’s administration or from Umahi’s Gestapo which roved the entire landscape of Ebonyi State. In furtherance of the political domination of the Abakaliki bloc, Engr. David Umahi wangled his way to become the minister representing Ebonyi State in the Federal Executive Council even when both the governorship and ministerial slot had been in his Uburu community and Ebonyi South for sixteen unbroken years. Yet, his nephew from the same old Ohaozara in Ebonyi South, Ifeanyi Odii, who was PDP governorship candidate in the 2023 Ebonyi State Governorship Election has successfully established the fatal legal impediments of Nwifuru’s candidature and APC in the last election. Odii is also pushing for outright declaration and installation as governor and successor of David Umahi on Ebonyi governorship seat, having been comfortably placed second in the 2023 Ebonyi governorship results which Engr. David Umahi allegedly procured to nail the political conquest of Abakaliki or Unwu-Ekumenyi bloc!
The truth is that the most probable outcome of Ifeanyi Odii and the PDP’s efforts at Ebonyi State Governorship Election Petition Tribunal is an order disqualifying Nwifuru and APC over obvious constitutional infractions; and for a run-off election between the Abakaliki bloc personified by Prof. Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh of the APGA and the Ebonyi South personified by Chief Ifeanyi Odii of the PDP! This will happen because notwithstanding that PDP and Chief Ifeanyi Odii scored majority of lawful votes in the 2023 Ebonyi Governorship Election, they lack the constitutional requirements of 25% of the total votes cast in two-thirds of the local government areas in Ebonyi State! Odii met the 25% constitutional requirements only in six LGA namely, Onicha, Ohaozara, Afikpo North, Ikwo, Ohaukwu and Ivo. The constitution in section 179 (2) (b) compulsorily and specifically demands this requirement. In Ebonyi State which has 13 LGA, this amounts to approximately nine LGA.
Prof. Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh is a young courageous and cerebral intellectual while Chief Ifeanyi Odii is a smart business mogul with deep pockets. In the emerging political scenario, Odii is the polical nemesis of Abakaliki or Unwu-Ekumenyi bloc just as Prof. Bernard Ifeanyi Odoh is the only political life-line available for the political recovery and reinvention of the now decimated and fading Unwu-Ekumenyi or Abakaliki bloc! Will the Abakaliki bloc wake up and come together to reclaim their dignity in the undulant Ebonyi political jungle or continue to celebrate the colourful badge of slavery which is being packaged for them in the shape of mint Naira and Dollar notes? The answer to this crucial question lies in the womb of time.