Governor Dave Umahi will make history today as he takes the oath of office to lead his people Ebonyi for the next four years. He will make history not because he was going to be the first governor of the state, but because he rowed against the wind and defied all political permutations to become the first deputy governor in Nigeria to become governor against the wish of his boss. His emergence, so to say, is for the good of the state. In a country where political office holders must be anointed ‘from above’, the import is that Dave will have no one to take orders from and therefore no one to pay obeisance or ‘make returns’ to.
As I posted on my Facebook wall recently, Dave’s coronation today is well deserved. When the children of men began to build the Tower of Babel, there was something God said that still intrigues me till today. He said, ‘Come, let us go and scatter them. When the people are united, nothing shall be withheld back from them’.
From day one, Dave had a unity of purpose, and those who worked with him were united in their quest. They weaved series of political machinations and stratagem and kept their eyes on the ball and never allowed anything to distract them. There is this Ethiopian proverb that gives me so much inspiration anytime I recollect it. It says, ‘When spiders unite, they can tie down a lion’. Thus, unity is the key. It is the wonder key that can unlock every impossibility and hew down and reduce to rubble every mountain no matter how humongous.
Some people call me to ask me why Governor Elechi did not give the ticket of labour to Prof. Onyebuchi Chukwu. I may not be in a position to answer that question. I acknowledge that Chukwu’s candidature could have given the campaign more bite and the voters a stronger pedestal from where to assess both contestants from south, but I make bold to say that even if the former minister had been adopted as the flag bearer of Labour Party, the chances were high that Dave could still have carried the day.
Dave deserved the victory because he worked harder than them all, and God has a way of rewarding hardwork. His coronation today as the winner of the 2015 governorship election in Ebonyi state was not by happenstance. He was like Don Quixote. He campaigned from every nook and cranny of the state, personally knocking on doors when he could have sat in his expansive Osborn La Palm hotel to sip tea with some omelet and delegate people to do so. I went to my remote hamlet Ozizza and was told Dave came for campaign there. I went to Amasiri and was told Dave just left some couple of minutes ago. He knocked on doors and formed squads that cut across the state that were unwavering in their determination to occupy the government house against all odds.
Should I say that God is unjust in giving him the victory when someone who was adjudged to be more pious was equally in the race? Not quite. The ways of God are beyond human understanding. God made it clear that “the kingdom of God suffereth violence, and the violent taketh it by force”. Dave was determined to take the kingdom of Ebonyi State by ‘force, and God gave him the nod because he threw his heart into it.
Now, the victory song is everywhere. But should we indulge in such revelry when the task ahead is daunting? I will say, like Samuel, to those celebrating, that this is not yet the time for such. Yes there is a winner, but they are also losers equally.
This is the time for healing: healing old wounds and the many that came up during the electioneering campaigns. There is no denying the fact that our state, once a peaceful and harmonious enclave, came apart at the seams and almost gravitated to the cliff edge of doom by the bitterness and rancour generated by the struggle for power. It is time for healing: psychological and mental healing. And I know that Governor Dave knows this much because he broached it in his acceptance speech.
He extended an olive branch to Chief Martin Elechi and all the losers in the contest. It is indeed noble to do so. Chief Elechi, as our father and one of the pillars of the state, should consign the past to the dustbin for the state to move forward. Now that the battle has been won and lost, Dave should harbour no bitterness against any one, neither should he open new ones. As he is sworn-in today, he has become the father of all, not a section of it. He should lead by example, with justice and equity—the two planks on which he rode to power— to address the needs of all segments of the state.
But it is also time to build too, to complete projects on ground which will benefit all Ebonyians, and to initiate new ones. The people are yearning for a new vista of life and Dave, like a wonder worker, promised to give them more than they asked for. He promised much and raised our expectations beyond our wish. And today, as he is being anointed, he should immediately put his hands on the plough and get cracking .
One day, Sisera, a prophet of God, came to Jael in the bible and demanded for a cup of water. But instead of water, she gave him milk. May that be so with the Ebonyi people under Dave. Amen!