Ebinyi state governor, David Umahi of Ebonyi has denied objecting to Peter Obi’s nomination by Atiku Abubakar.
Umahi clarified his position on the issue on Tuesday in Abakaliki while addressing newsmen after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on socio-economic development.
The governor, who is the Chairman of the South East Governors’ Forum, described the critics as not being fair to him.
“Nobody is against Peter Obi because he is my friend, competent and you must have seen our pictures together on the social media,” he said.
Umahi explained that the cruxes of the matter were that south east leaders were not consulted in making the decision on Obi’s nomination while no one from Ebonyi and Imo made the list of the running mate nominees.
“We must take decisions against the marginalisation of Ebonyi people because if we have to vote, we must be treated with equity.
“Two names of the nominees came from Anambra, two from Abia and one from Enugu but none came from Ebonyi and Imo.
“What is wrong with somebody from Ebonyi and Imo and you must know that one of the reasons an Ebonyi man is against regions in the country, is the fear of further marginalisation,” he said.
Umahi maintained that the southeast leaders must sit with the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and if all must have to work together, the leaders must be part of the decision making.
“I am talking about the southeast people and if six people can come from other regions and take decisions, there must be somebody from the southeast zone.
“There is nothing like the southeast governor’s stand on the matter but we are only saying that when decisions are taken and people from other regions are invited, those from the southeast must be invited.
“The southeast leaders never issued any statement on the matter and anybody from the zone who says that our stand is not good, is not a human being’’, he said.
The governor remarked that if Atiku just picked his running mate without people from other regions seeing the list and making choices, there could have been no complaints.
“Nobody chooses the vice president for anybody, it is just like a wife issue but if other people were on the list, people from Ebonyi should be there.
“Even if we would not make the list as the choice is for Abubakar to make, we should know what disqualifies us from being picked,” he said.
He said that Obi told him that he (Umahi) was supposed to be more embittered and make greater noise than he was making presently, if he (Obi) was in his shoes.
“When my Chief Press Secretary (CPS) issued a statement congratulating Obi, the zone’s leaders started calling me, saying that I have made the VP alone.
“I had to issue a counter statement telling them that I was not consulted before the statement was released and that it was an honest mistake from the CPS.
“I cannot endorse Obi alone and am confident that in further decisions, the Igbo man must be consulted.
“If the position I had was my sin, I cannot repent from it,” he said.
The governor however, urged the UNDP team to ensure the implementation of the MOU to sustain the gains of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in the state.
Dr Samuel Bwalya, the UNDP Country Representative in Nigeria, explained that SDG dwelt on 17 goals with 169 targets aimed at eradicating poverty in UNDP benefiting states and countries.
“UNDP focuses on governance, peace and conflict resolution, inclusive growth, job creation, environmental management and strategic support for the next five years of its intervention in Ebonyi.