Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi came under fire yesterday for attacking President-General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, Prof George Obiozor.
Umahi blamed Prof Obiozor for the poor outing of Southeast presidential aspirants at the All Progressives Congress (APC) convention.
APC national leader Asiwaju Bola Tinubu won the primary with 1,271 votes.
Umahi came a distant sixth, polling 38 votes, ahead of other Southeast aspirants Ogbonnaya Onu and Emeka Nwaujiba, both of whom got a vote each, and Senator Rochas Okorocha, who got none.
Umahi, speaking at the maiden matriculation of King David University of Medical Sciences, accused the Ohanaeze leadership of abandoning the Southeast president project.
He claimed that Prof Obiozor and other leaders and delegates from the zone were never sincere about their demand for a president of Southeast extraction.
The Ebonyi governor said: “Prof. Obiozor could not stand for Igbos when it mattered so much. It is a very big shame.
“I have no confidence in him and he is no longer my president.”
But, Ohanaeze Vice President (Southeast), Ichie Damian Okeke-Ogene, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) Chief Mike Ahamba and an Igbo think thank, the Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF), slammed Umahi for the comments, which they described as insulting.
Okeke-Ogene believes Umahi should share the blame for failing to rally other governors of the zone.
He said: “Umahi as the leader of the Southeast governors forum is partly to blame.
“For over a year now or thereabouts, how many times have they held a meeting of the forum?
“Ohanaeze’s role is advisory. Since the centre cannot hold, what do you expect Ohanaeze to do?
“Everyone is paying the price. Ohanaeze is a socio-cultural organisation and not a political party.”
Chief Ahamba described Umahi’s comments as childish and demeaning.
He said: “If Umahi said that, I consider such a statement as very childish and demeaning of a governor of a state.
“First of all, Prof Obiozor was not at the convention and is not the governor’s personal President General but President General of Ohanaeze Ndigbo which covers all the states.
“What does he expect Prof Obiozor to do? Prof Obiozor is not part of the delegates.
“He didn’t tell the delegates not to vote for him and he was not the only contestant from the Southeast.”
The ADF asked Umahi to apologise to Ohanaeze and the entire Igbo people for his scathing remarks against its leadership.
The group also accused the governor and his colleagues of betraying Ndigbo by not strengthening the region’s security.
Its spokesman, Abia Onyike, said Umahi does not have a moral basis to accuse Ohanaeze Ndigbo of betrayal.
“Umahi lost a legitimate right to accuse Ohanaeze of betrayal. This is because he and other governors betrayed Ndigbo and Ohanaeze itself by not protecting the region.
“Umahi is the Chairman of the Southeast Governors Forum.
“Ohanaeze entrusted the security of the Southeast in his care with the other governors.
“They were told to set up a regional security outfit, to which they agreed.
“When it was already belated, he went ahead to form the so-called Ebube-Agu which the opposition in Ebonyi now claims he uses as a personal security outfit.
“Now that he has lost, he is turning back to blame Ohanaeze Ndigbo.
“That is an insult to Ndigbo. Umahi should withdraw that statement and apologise to Ohanaeze Ndigbo”.
A top chieftain of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, who pleaded not to be named, said Umahi’s annoyance was that he expected Prof Obiozor to present him to President Muhammadu Buhari as the sole candidate of Ndigbo.
“Governor Umahi expected Prof Obiozor to present him to the President when he visited Ebonyi, but Prof Obiozor could not honour his invitation to make such pronouncement.
“Prof Obiozor did not go to Ebonyi because he felt that Governor Umahi was not the only aspirant from Southeast. That was the beginning of the problem.
“Prof Obiozor could not have presented Umahi to the President when other aspirants were also bent on contesting the primary election.”