Why Buhari, Umahi maintain close relationship – Ebonyi govt

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The Ebonyi State Government on Friday said the relationship between the Governor David Umahi and President Muhammadu Buhari was mutual but non-partisan.

The government stated this at the backdrop of insinuations in the state that the governor may have defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The Commissioner for Information and State Orientation, Emmanuel Onwe, told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abakaliki that some people in the state had misconstrued the relationship Mr Umahi and the president.

Mr Onwe said people were surprised at the bonding between both men in spite of the governor being a member of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

He said contrary to the insinuations, Mr Buhari had never urged the governor to join the APC, adding that the closeness was beyond party affiliations.

According to him, the relationship is based purely on appreciation of efforts by both the president and the governor to develop the state and country.

“Those who whip up such sentiment do not understand the dynamics of personal relationships which must not always be defined by politics.

“The two leaders have many areas of agreement, with Buhari appreciating Umahi’s development strides, while the latter appreciates Buhari’s corruption fight and economic diversification through agriculture,” he said.

The commissioner said that Mr Buhari wanted Mr Umahi’s strides to be replicated across the country which he expressed while inaugurating some projects in the state in November, 2017.

“Tribute should be paid to Buhari for stabilising the country from the scenario of break-up in 2015, which many people seem to have forgotten.

“Nigeria was close to meeting the doomsday prophesy of America that it would collapse in 2015 and we came close to that during and after that year’s general elections,” he said.

He noted that Mr Umahi had been recognised as a statesman across the country and that in his inaugural address in May, 2015, he extended his hands of fellowship to other statesmen across the nation.

“The President grabbed those hands very close to his chest up till now as the governor does not need to decamp to the APC before Nigerians appreciate his strides in all sectors of the state’s existence,” he added.

Mr Onwe also debunked insinuations of rancour in the state’s Executive Council occasioned by cases of resignations, suspensions and reshuffles.

“The state EXCO is as solid as a rock and I have granted news conferences clarifying that those suspended were for specific reasons and are accepted.

“You should move away from whittle-tattle and if they are abnormal, I would have seen them as things to pay attention to, but they are not abnormal,” he said.

Mr Onwe said that developments in the council could not be termed mutual suspicion, but competition and likened the situation to the competitive spirit in any environment, especially a political one.

“Heads would clash most times, but the Ebonyi executive council is cohesive and driving towards one agenda of delivering on the governor’s promises to the people,” he said.

(NAN)