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It is not so surprising that Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi has been overtaken by bootlicking, Sycophancy, and a very dangerous sense of inferiority complex because it’s been a long time coming. When lust for power meets an unflinching love for an incompetent jester in President Muhammadu Buhari that is exactly what you obtain.
Umahi started his political career quite well, rising through the ranks in his chosen People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to become Governor of Ebonyi State in May 2015. He settled down to build infrastructures and develop the State, a mission he has creditably done well in implementing. However, things started to go sour when future political ambitions began to consume him. As if that was not enough, he began to bootlick the lifeless President in Aso Rock just to be in the good books of the ‘cabal’ or oligarchy that run Nigeria.
With the firm knowledge that no one has successfully served two masters at a time, he understood that it was time he took a side. Blinded by his inordinate lust for future political power, he chose the Fulani overlords and jettisoned his people. To show his desperation, he officially ditched the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), a party he worked against in the last elections anyways for the organised crime known as the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His first assignment was that he had to make a choice between the marauding Fulani Herdsmen and his helpless people whom he had albinitio sworn to protect. It was already obvious that part of his engagements in seeking the face of his lord and personal saviour – the President, is in cuddling the lawless herders in Ebonyi and treating them with kid gloves. For instance, it would easily be recalled that last year, when an incident in Ishielu Local Government Area of the State reportedly led to the death of two herdsmen, Umahi, by his own admission, apprehended the suspects, handed them over for trial, and made appeasements to the Fulani in the community. However, when the soulless herdsmen went on a killing rampage, massacring over 50 innocent people in the same community, Umahi simply issued press statements and that was the end. Umahi possibly and foolishly miscalculated that constantly, loitering around the President, could make his State immune to the menace of the marauders.
One thing is assured and it is the fact that Umahi would one day realise that he cannot run with the pig without getting tarnished. He would surely offer regrets and lamentations on the betrayal by the herdsmen whom he has taken it upon himself to protect but it would be too late.
In cringing and crawling for President Muhammadu Buhari, Umahi, who is the Chairman of the South-East Governors Forum has simply organised his fellow witless Governors in the South-East to turn the forum into one of the most useless forums on Earth. While their partners in the South-West are engrossed in tackling the problems headlong, the South-East Governors Forum has become a forum for issuing timorous press releases praising Buhari and his maladministration, rather than drawing attention to the exclusion of the zone on major policy issues and appointments, the Governors under Umahi have completely sold their region out that today, no one even takes the Igbo nation serious in the scheme of things in Nigeria. Sometime in May, the forum announced the formation of ‘Ebube Agu’ security network, Umahi only needed a wink from his slave masters in Abuja to kill the security outfit while it was still at an embryonic stage. Today, the zone has remained heavily threatened as herdsmen have continued to kidnap, maim, destroy and desecrate Ala Igbo.
For quite some time, Umahi has gone to some length, even acting beyond reasons to be counted among the loyalists of President Muhammadu Buhari. Many insiders have revealed that the inferiority battling Umahi was a promised of a Vice Presidential slot for 2023. Ever since this promise was made to Umahi, his life and the life of Ebonyi have never remained the same. In trying so hard to stay on course, Umahi has taken sycophancy to unfathomable levels.
Recently, he came out to mock Nigerians by declaring that he prays that God gives Nigeria another President like Buhari in 2023. The truth is that Umahi has remained stupidly blind to, is that even Buhari knows that God or Allah won’t give Nigeria another President like him. A President that inherited a united country that is now on the precipice. A President that inherited a fairly manageable economy that today, has the highest number of poor people on the planet. A President that inherited a fairly unsafe North-East geopolitical zone that has today assumed mind-blowing positions on the terror index globally. A President that pillaged the Nigerian economy to almost beyond redemption, promoted ethnicity and hatred, peculiarly for the Igbos, his own people. Would Nigeria even survive such a President? It would be difficult to convince many Nigerians that Umahi is still sane. His uncontrollable greed coupled with the attendant primitive acquisition of wealth mainly by deliberate amassing of public funds are about burning him up and that is the truth. Perhaps, the good thing about the whole madness is that many Nigerians can now see that Umahi cannot really be any better than the man he idolises, this alone should bring his jamboree pursuit to a terminal end.
As if the outrage generated by that careless statement was not enough, Umahi went harder on the throttle. This time, he went against the body language of most of his fellow Governors and leaders from Southern Nigeria. Last month, the courageous Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike somehow ignited a revolution to restructure Nigeria fiscally. It began as a face-off between the Rivers State Government and the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, over the administration of Value Added Tax, VAT, for Wike, he believed that States and not the Federal Government through the FIRS should collect VAT. Shortly afterward, Lagos State followed suit and the debate was on. Out of the blues, Umahi came blazing again, this time, he categorically stated that the Federal Government should continue to receive VAT and distribute same to States.
As harmless as Umahi sounded, he couldn’t hide his bootlicking tendencies as they were obvious that they were another servile outing to massage the ego of his very lazy slave masters in the North who solely depend on the resources from the Southern Nigeria to survive. What Umahi and his fellow sycophantic obsequious conformists could not explain was the rationale behind the evil status quo of allowing sharia conformists in Northern Nigeria to take a bite from VAT generated from goods in the south, beer inclusive whilst destroying beer bottles.
It is no longer news that Hisbah Police have always destroyed alcohol whenever they are sighted in Northern Nigeria. What is even more dangerous, confusing, and contradictory, an alcohol dealer in the South is an unspectacular law-abiding, tax-paying citizen, however, once he crosses over to the sharia-infested North, he becomes a criminal and all this happen under the umbrella of the same constitution. Umahi and his cohorts do not have a problem with this. For some stupidly reasoning people who may choose to dismiss the alcohol argument as lacking in weight, they should be reminded that currently, the Nigerian Government charges an alcohol excise duty of ₦35 per litre, which makes it one of the most expensively taxed items in the country, comparable only to cigarettes.
The ongoing legal battle between the Rivers State and Lagos State Government, and the FIRS on the subject of who exactly should levy VAT would go a long way in correcting many anomalies. Not only will this suit settle once and for all the issue of State’s powers as autonomous federating units vs executive overreach from Abuja, but it will also do something infinitely more fundamental for Nigeria going forward. The status quo which currently empowers 12 of Nigeria’s 36 States to act in self-destructive ways and outsource the consequences of their irresponsibility to the other 24 states would be further laid bare for the world to see. This is not just about alcohol VAT, this is about the general question of why certain States prohibit legitimate economic activities and yet get to take a share of the revenue raised from those activities in other States.
Umahi can continue to delude himself. He should continue to hope on a promissory note that would eventually amount to nothing. By 2023, he would admit that he had bought a dummy sold to him by the Fulani oligarchy who have continued to ascribe to themselves the ownership of Nigeria. By then, it would be late, way too late.
AFRICA DAILY NEWS, NEW YORK