Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, and his neighboring Ebonyi State counterpart, Dave Umahi, have landed in what is known in the inner city of Nigeria’s urban centres as One Chance. In their case, it is political one chance.
Leader Of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, Primate Elijah Ayodele, has said that the hitherto Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governors who defected to President Muhammadu Buhari’s All Progressives Congress (APC) will be disappointed ahead of the 2023 general election.
Umahi cut his political tooth in 2007 as Acting State Chairman of Ebonyi State wing of PDP. From 2009 to 2011, he served as state chairman of the party, and a year as the Chair of the governing board of Federal Medical Centre, Asaba, Delta State capital.[
In 2011, he became Governor Martin Elechi’s deputy. Umahi’s rebellious character manifested in 2014 when he started working against his principal’s interest in Health Minister, Onyebuchi Chukwu, succeeding him. Umahi who is ambious of occupying the Presidential Villa in 2023 on the platform of his new party, allegedly violated Elechi’s succession plan. He went ahead and toppled Chukwu in the primaries.
Political watchers say the remainder of Governor Elechi’s term was chaotic, with arson hitting the House of Assembly in February 2015 and motions taken to impeach him later that month over alleged unconstitutional gross misconduct, misappropriation of funds and anti-party activities. Umahi was elected to the role of Governor on April 12, 2015 in an election that was challenged by the Labour Party, APC and All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) on the basis of “widespread irregularities, killings, and wanton destruction of property”.
In October 2015, the legitimacy of the election was upheld by the Governorship Election Tribunal, and on March 16, 2019, Umahi was re-elected as governor. He polled 393,343 votes to defeat APC’s Sonny Ogbuoji who polled 81,703 votes.
Last November 17, Umahi officially defected to APC after a long time speculation. One of his reasons of joining President Buhari’s party was that ‘’PDP has been unfair to the South-East geopolitical zone” and secondly, “that it has being hijacked by one or two individuals”. He also doused the speculation against him that he joined the APC because he wanted a presidential ticket which wasn’t promised to him in the PDP by saying that he would quit politics in 2023 after leaving office as governor.
Expectedly, President Buhari also congratulated Umahi for his defection to APC, describing the nasty political development as a bold step driven by principle rather than opportunistic moves or coercion. President Buhari’s warm reception of Umahi into APC tends to once again show that his administration’s vociferous anti-corruption fight is indeed, selective.
On January 29, this year, the Peoples Gazette reported that during Umahi’s tenure as deputy governor and governor, he allegedly transferred more than ₦3.6 billion in government money to his company, Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd. Payments allegedly started in 2011, when he became Governor Elechi’s deputy, and flowered into his term as the number one citizen of Ebonyi.
The now APC presidential aspirant allegedly threatened reporters of the online newspaper on phone calls and the news portal’s website was subsequently blocked, before requesting a retraction and ₦1 billion as “atonement” from the newspaper. After the paper stood by its story, Umahi sued it for defamation and demanded ₦2 billion in damages.
‘Saint’ Umahi was born on July 25, 1964. He is the son of Elder Joseph Umahi Nwaze and Margaret Umahi of Umunaga, Uburu in Ohaozara Local Government Area of the state. He attended Ishiagu High School and the Government Secondary School of Afikpo before entering the Enugu State University of Science and Technology in 1982. He graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering[.
In 1990, he co-founded Norman Engineering and Construction Nig. Limited with Ombo Isokarari and served as its General Manager until 1993, and until 2011, Chairman and CEO of Brass Engineering & Construction Nig. Ltd.[ Focus Investment Nig. Ltd., and Osborn La Palm Royal Resort Ltd.[
He is from a home of nine comprising two females and seven males, including retired Major-General Obi Abel Umahi, the former Chairman of South-East Security Committee, Ebubeagu but resigned in May, 2021. Roy Umahi Nwaeze, a legal practitioner, Austin Umahi Nweze who was the former national vice chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, South-East zone, among others.
On his part, Governor Ayade who is known for his bombastic vocabs like the legendary K. O. Mbadiwe, ventured into politics when he ran for a seat in the Senate in the 2011 elections as a member of the PDP. He was elected by receiving a total of 91,123 votes.
During his term in the Senate, he held the position of Vice-Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, and a member of other committees such as Petroleum Downstream, Education, Drugs/Narcotics/Crime etc.
Ayade again won Cross River’s governorship poll on the platform of PDP in the April 2015, having polled 342,016 votes ahead of APC’s candidate in the state, Odey Ochicha, with 53,983 votes. He recontested in the 2019 elections on PDP’s ticket and was popularly returned to the Government House, Calabar.
He was born in Obudu Local Government Area of the state on March 2, 1968 to the family of Mr. Peter Akinsheye Ayade and Mrs. Beatrice Ngayi Ayade, the patriarch and matriarch of the Ayade Dynasty, both of blessed memory. He hails from Kakum village, Ipong Ward of the local government area. His parents were both devout Catholics. His father worked as a public servant with the water board.
Governor Ayade received his primary education at St. Stephens Primary School, Obudu, and proceeded to Government Secondary School, Obudu, for his secondary education. He earned his B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Ibadan, in Ibadan, Oyo State (1984–1988). He obtain his M.Sc. in microbiology (1989–1990) and his Ph.D in environmental microbiology from the same university (1990–1994), winning the Best Doctoral Dissertation Award in Environmental Microbiology.
Ayade equally has an MBA (2000–2002) from Ambrose Alli University, Ekpoma, Edo State, and obtained his LLB law degree (2006–2010) from Delta State University, Abraka, Delta State, where he worked as a lecturer and subsequently appointed professor.
From his work in groundwater remediation in Nigeria, Ayade invented a sewage treatment plant powered by solar energy.
However, Primate Ayodele , in a statement by his media aide, Oluwatoyin Osho, unambiquously declared that Umahi’s quest to become Nigeria’s president or vice president on the platform of APC, will not come through.
According to him, Umahi’s political ambition will be jeopardized as towards the end of his tenure as governor, most of his trusted aides will disappoint him, and accordingly advised the Ebonyi governor to return to PDP, if he wants to stay relevant in politics as he could go into “oblivion politically,” if he fails to return to PDP.
‘’The mission of Ebonyi Governor, Dave Umahi to become the president or vice president will not see the light of the day, he will be jeopardized politically and his party will not win his state in 2023. Towards the end of the expiration of his tenure, most of his trusted aides and political allies will disappoint him. If he wants to stay relevant, he should return to his former party or go into oblivion in the state. APC cannot win Ebonyi in 2023’’, the cleric said.
On Ayade, he cautioned the Cross River governor that he will face disappointment and will be left to regret decamping to APC, because his efforts will not be appreciated, adding, ‘’Governor Ben Ayade will be disappointed. Especially in 2023, his followers will kick against his instructions. His mission for 2023 pushed him to decamping to the ruling party will not be achieved.’’