The Dilemma Of Governor Umahi’s Defection


Gov. David Umahi

By Dr. Johnson Greg

An alternative caption for this post would have been: “The Inevitability of APC Victory in 2023 Presidential Elections”.
Anybody who thinks that the defection of Givernor Dave Umahi from PDP to APC was meant to put him in contention for the Igbo slot for the presidency does not understand the signs. Umahi made it clear his cause for discomfort in PDP and his reasons for leaving the party in which he has been a major stakeholder.

Umahi left PDP because he could not see a future role for himself in the party. Or, to put it in different words, the role his party would expect him to play in the near future will be inconsistent with his personal beliefs and values. To be specific, Umahi realized that PDP would expect him to support a non-Igbo presidential candidate against an APC candidate who would be an Igbo man or for him to support an Igbo vice presidential candidate against an Igbo presidential candidate. Believing firmly that it is time for the Igbos to produce the President of Nigeria, Umahi faced the irony of staying in a party that is not ready to allow the Igbos to produce the President. Faced with such a dilemma, Umahi’s options were very stark – either he would give up his belief in Igbo presidency or he would move to a party that is ready to support Igbo presidency. He simply wants to be in the party that will produce the first Igbo president in 55 years. He chose to be in APC so he would not end up supporting anyone against the Igbo candidate. That is his dilemma.

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Umahi’s dilemma is going to be the dilemma of every Igbo politician in PDP. Even Ohaneze has made it clear that it will not support a party that is not prepared to field an Igbo as its presidential candidate for 2023. So, it is not only Umahi leaving PDP, Ohaneze is also leaving. Governor Obiano will soon be announcing his move to APC. Can you imagine an Igbo Governor or Senator who will support, say, Atiku or Tambowal, against an Igbo presidential candidate? It will be an oddity. How can the Igbos have clamored to be given the chance to produce the president, and then suddenly an Igbo politician will be supporting a non-Igbo against the Igbo candidate? One should expect many Igbo politicians in PDP to follow Umahi’s example and move over to APC. That may be happening very soon.

Indeed, APC’s plan to zone the presidency to the South-East is a masterstroke and superior politics in play. That will force PDP to do likewise or to field a non-Igbo as its presidential candidate. Either way, PDP will lose. PDP is faced with the Devils alternatives. Look at how it plays out: The South-East is the only region where PDP has been guaranteed consistently 70% of votes. So we can call the South-East PDP’s stronghold. At the same time, people of the South-East will support overwhelmingly an Igbo presidential candidate regardless of his party. Producing an Igbo President is more important to the South-East than their loyalty to any political party.

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There are two scenarios:
First Scenario: APC fields an Igbo presidential candidate and PDP fields a non-Igbo. In this scenario, APC gets 50% of Northern votes and 90% of South-East votes. And the APC candidate wins the election. We assume that the South-West and the South-South will maintain their voting pattern as in 2019.

Second scenario: APC fields an Igbo candidate and PDP also fields an Igbo candidate. We assume that the APC Igbo candidate is popular in the North while the PDP Igbo candidate is popular in the South-East. APC will win 70% in the North and PDP will win 70% in the East. Assume that South-West and South-South maintain their voting pattern as in 2019. Again, APC candidate wins the election.

The challenge is for APC to field an Igbo candidate that is popular in the North and trusted by the North, and the outcome becomes inevitable. Victory will be guaranteed. And who is the most likely Igbo candidate for APC? Obviously, it is Orji Uzor Kalu. In addition to Orji’s popularity in the North, he is the longest standing Igbo politician in APC after Ogbonnaya Onu and Rochas Okorocha, and Chris Ngige. For this reason, a new comer like Umahi has no chance at all. But why not Ogbonnaya Onu or Okorocha. Onu does not have sufficient resources to kick start a presudebtial campaign. Okorocha is encumbered with his struggle to sort things out with his successor in Imo State. Also, his deep quarrels with Oshonmole and Tinubu still have deep scars.

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It is clear that Umahi does not see himself as a serious rival to Orji Uzor Kalu. On the contrary, he joined APC to support someone like Orji Uzor Kalu.

In fact, unless PDP quickly wakes up and zones the presidency to the Igbos, it will do worse than lose the election. It will soon cease to be a major political party. If PDP loses the South-East as its stronghold, it will not be able to recover. It seems the fate of PDP is doomed by Atiku’s ambition which excludes an Igbo presidency in the near future. Apart from Atiku, Governor Wike’s ambition to run with Governor Tambowal is a threat to the Igbo presidency. Wike doesn’t want an Igbo presidency, which is the major rift between him and Umahi.

There has also been a speculation over the Intentions of former President Jonathan. Let’s get it clear, President Jonathan will not run. Neither party will find it in its interest to field Jonathan. and neither South-South nor the North nor the South-East will consider it in its interest to support Jonathan to run.

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