For discerning minds who take passing or keen interests in the 2023 politics of who succeeds Umahi, the social media reports of purported endorsement of the Speaker of Ebonyi State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Francis Nwifuru allegedly by the founding fathers of Ebonyi State could be likened to a cancerous tumor that has refused to heal permanently.
Even the forum’s leaders and members must have been rudely shocked by the virally circulated news emanating from only the Facebook timeline of a certain Leo Oketa- Chief Press Secretary to the two-term Speaker of the State’s House of Assembly, Rt Hon. Nwifuru and the All Progressives Congress, APC candidate for the Ebonyi 2023 Governorship election.
One can say this beating his chest because of the presumed status of the forum’s members particularly as leaders who are not just elders with varying degrees of accomplishments in several fields of endeavours in their various respects but are very learned and knowledgeable enough to be attributed with certain conducts, knowing particularly the Ebonyi polity and the politics of Umahi’s succession.
As a matter of fact, anyone who have followed the trajectories of the forum’s public engagements and their modus operandi both past and present even if as a ‘founding son’ will doubt the intent and purpose of such heinous propaganda against a group of respectable and thorough-bred elders.
For the records, the founding fathers is a forum of elderstatesmen and a few women who played known and crucial roles during the Ebonyi State creation struggle which spanned over a decade before the eventual creation of Ebonyi State in 1996 by the then military Head of State, Major Gen. Sani Abacha.
It bothers reiterating therefore that this is not the usual or common organization or group- normally referred to as political jobbers whereby periodic recruitment of memberships is tolerated. And so, for the forum, members are known and so also are their pasts and present antecedents, including their various contributions to the State’s creation struggle. Once a member therefore, one remains a member till death!
The obviously false news of Nwifuru’s endorsement must be well considered an attempt to drag into the dirty murky waters of Ebonyi politics especially at this desperate time in our chequered political history, the accomplished elderstatesmen and women who respectfully are now all practically in the late summer or departure lounges of their political and even life careers (if you may choose to classify them).
Even though many Ebonyians may have anticipated a well publicized rebuttal from the founding fathers- being a forum of reputable men and women who have played very momentous roles in the old Imo, Abia, Anambra and Enugu States from where the two blocs- Afikpo and Abakaliki blocs were carved out from to form Ebonyi State in 1996.
They have also participated actively in shaping the governance of Ebonyi State since creation with the apogee being the opportunity given one of their members, Chief Martin Elechi to govern the State between 2007 and 2015 as the second democratically elected Governor of the State.
As a ‘founding son’ (being a very close relative to one of the founding fathers) who have followed and therefore sufficiently understands the workings of the forum, one can only conclude that the malicious falsehoods being peddled about the endorsement of Nwifuru is at best a hogwash, probably meant to either pull their legs out or pitch them against the government. I say this with every sense of responsibility because of the known antecedents of the Umahi administration since inception in 2015.
First, he, (Umahi) had publicly expressed his disregard or disdain (if you choose to call it) for the members of the forum upon his emergence as Governor without the support of majority of the members in 2015. Archetypal of his egoistic style, Umahi had called a bluff of the forum, publicly stating that he has no need for their counsels and words of wisdom as elders while piloting the affairs of governance in Ebonyi.
Fast forward to November 2020 when Governor Umahi defected to the APC and crises brewed in the State between him and his estranged PDP leaders who refused to jump ship with him to his new broom Party, the founding fathers majorly intervened to douse tension in media and public brat between him and the likes of former Senate President, Chief Anyim Pius Anyim, first Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, Sen. Dr. Sam Egwu and other PDP leaders who he had labelled as ‘IPOB sponsors’ and terrorists. Of course the accused personalities responded in more mean words climaxed by an open letter from Anyim Pius to Umahi where he laid naked very weighty and unprintable allegations against the Umahi government as fetish, callous and very high-handed.
In one of the meetings I was privileged to be updated on held at the Pastoral Centre Abakaliki, presided over by the then Bishop of Abakaliki diocese, Bishop Michael Okoro, some of the interventionist’s founding fathers had taken turns to lambast both the Governor and the elders, calling for a truce. Following that meeting, which was one of the rare occasions where truth was spoken to Umahi- a man who completely detests contrary opinions, peace reasonably returned in the State.
Since then, Umahi who was now in the midst of the same Party (APC) with elders like his predecessor, Chief Elechi started ‘consulting’ the founding fathers on a few issues especially whenever he feels he wants his ego massaged by the elders some of who he assists with their medicals and upkeeps from time to time.
Apparently seeking their nod to endorse his puppet, Nwifuru of the APC as their choice candidate for the 2023 Governorship election in Ebonyi State, Umahi in April after his pronouncement of Nwifuru as “the next Governor” of Ebonyi State in a burial ground at Okposi, otherwise now referred to in Ebonyi political circles as the “burial ground endorsement”, wished the founding fathers to understand his body language and make a public statement backing his choice. But that did not happen!
Sometime in July this year after Nwifuru emerged as the APC Gubernatorial candidate following the Party’s primaries, the Speaker officially consulted the founding fathers in one of their meetings in Ezeogo Agom Eze’s residence off Ezza Road where the forum usually convene their meetings.
An insider source had hinted as was also published in a section of the media that after a long address by Speaker Nwifuru on the need for the elders to support him in his equity agenda, he blatantly failed to secure the nod of the elderstatesmen who preferred to play only advisory and counseling roles as elders.
It would be recalled that prior to the said meeting, the founding fathers had been ‘summoned’ by the Governor to his new palatial office at the new Government House Abakaliki under the guise of a courtesy visit to ‘congratulate him for his contest for the APC Presidential ticket’. During the meeting, Governor Umahi was said to have tasked the elderstatesmen to go home and spread the gospel according to equity and power return to Ebonyi north, precisely Izzi (with his preferred stooge, Nwifuru in mind).
A few weeks later around mid August, media reports suggested that there was an attempt to make public an endorsement of Nwifuru by the founding fathers.
But there was a sharp division amongst the elders especially considering the fact that many persons were already in the race, political parties having concluded their primaries.
You may view the links below for the comprehensive report on the issue 👇
The understated facts therefore gives a glaring picture of the insipid desperation of the said APC Governorship candidate who in his unpopularity is desirous of climbing the Government House in 2023 with the founding fathers as his ladder. But it does appear the elders are not even ready to engage or dignify him and his cohorts in any form of rebuttal whatsoever.
For them, their records, antecedents and modus operandi should be well known to Ebonyi people:
- Whenever it’s time for them to speak in unison on any matter or issue affecting the state be the political or otherwise, they have their leaders who either issue such signed Press releases or they speak directly to the Press in physical Press conferences. Reasonable Ebonyians are only wondering if the said Oketa who tried to market the bull-crap news of the endorsement of his principal has now also been officially or even unofficially appointed the Spokesperson of the Ebonyi Founding Fathers?
- Where and when exactly did the said meeting wherein Nwifuru was endorsed held and who and who were in attendance?
- Was there any formal or even informal communique on the matter as it is commonly traditional of them and who and who were the signatories?
Anyone who truly understand the style of Umahi’s hatchet men in desperate search or racketeering endorsements for political power would easily answer that the answers to these questions can never be provided!
Lies and downright deception of the Ebonyi public in general and the electorates in particular seem to have become official State policies as Umahi counts down to leaving the Government House in 2023 and the battle over who succeeds him intensifies. For a government that allegedly generates all manners of Press releases and statements right inside the old Government House Abakaliki just to suit the ego of the Governor, nothing, I mean absolutely NOTHING has become IMPOSSIBLE!
One can also understandably pardon the obvious silence of the founding fathers over the endorsement reports which had gone viral on the Social media. For them, silence must be bliss considering the use of force and violence including Ebubeagu militia on any Voice considered dissenting or opposition to the very callous desperation to force Speaker Nwifuru down the throats of beleaguered, or ‘conquered’ Ebonyi electorates as Umahi’s foot-soldiers consider many, if not all.
But the silence or decision of the founding fathers many of who are not on the same page of good book of Umahi and his co-travellers ahead of the 2023 general elections can not only be considered golden but potentially very dangerous for these harbingers of falsehoods and deceptions.
Elders are not the class of people any youngster should toy, joke with or even outrightly lie against!
- Mr. Fidelis Chima, a ‘founding son’ wrote from Ezza South Local Government Area, Ebonyi State.