The Labour Party senatorial candidate in the February 25, 2023, National Assembly Elections for Ebonyi South Zone, Linus Okorie, has criticized the Minister of Works, David Umahi, for claiming he has the right to choose who will succeed him at the Senate.
Naija News recalls that Umahi resigned from the Senate after being appointed as a minister by President Bola Tinubu.
However, the Election Petition Tribunal in Abuja on Friday upheld Umahi’s election and dismissed petitions from the Labour Party and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidates.
Speaking on Saturday during his visit to his successor, Governor Francis Nwifuru of Ebonyi state, as part of his tour of the state to inspect federal roads, Umahi said he had the right to determine his replacement.
Umahi said he would ensure that the party zones the senatorial ticket to Ohaozara Local Government Area and it will not leave there.
He said: “We would ensure that the party zones the ticket to Ohaozara (his Local Government Area), and it will not leave there.
“We would discuss the issue with the governor and, through him, run through the court process pending where the opposition takes us.”
Disagreeing with Umahi’s position, Linus Okorie urged the former governor to spend more energy delivering quality and durable roads to Nigerians than desperately ‘politicking’ for who will replace him at the Red Chamber.
According to the LP candidate, “The increasing belligerence of David Umahi, Minister of Works, over the Ebonyi South Senatorial seat, which he resigned from and is still the subject of litigation, beats every imagination. It is tending to malignant desperation.
“While I cannot comment on how and why he should insist on running the affairs of the state chapter of the APC as part of his ministerial portfolio, it bears emphasizing that he lacks the locus to assign or reassign the Ebonyi South Senatorial seat as a “friends and family” asset.
“The Labour Party and I have already mandated our legal teams to appeal the tribunal judgment that curiously dismissed our petitions; hence, no fresh elections are in view unless, and until, the court of appeal so decides.
“It, therefore, beats every imagination why Umahi is desperately intimidating everyone into surrendering a public position to his convoluted whims and caprices as if it were a personal estate.
“In addition to publicly upbraiding his own state party chairman and overruling his expressed party position on the matter, Umahi went ahead to pronounce his absolute right to zone and produce who replaces him from his party, thus shutting out even the state governor who is their state party leader, in any such process.
“He was also reported to have gone further, a day earlier in Abia State, to introduce a close female aide as the next senator of Ebonyi South. This is even as his immediate younger brother, Austin Umahi, already commenced public campaigns for the same seat even before the tribunal judgement. The overarching excesses are indeed too many to recount, but the question is why such hasty exasperation.
“One would have expected that given the enormity of the problems and expectations from the Ministry of Works that he now superintends as Minister, Umahi will focus all his energy and time on delivering good roads to Nigerians and leave Ebonyi South District alone. That is where the President, his party, and the entire nation are looking up to him to conquer and deliver, even in his whimsical arbitrariness of autocracy.
“I urge all compatriots of Ebonyi South to ignore these exuberant excesses of the Minister and focus on what is best for the zone. After all, the ultimate decision resides with them in the event the court of appeal orders a rerun of the senatorial election.”