The governor of Ebonyi State, Dave Umahi, on Tuesday, said God spoke to him to run for president in 2023.
Mr Umahi stated this when he appeared on “Politics Today” a programme on Channels Television.
He appeared on the programme few hours after he declared his ambition to jostle for the All Progressives Congress (APC) ticket at the State House, Abuja, where he had met with President Muhammadu Buhari to intimate him of his plan.
Mr Umahi declared his intention 24 hours after the National Leader of the APC, Bola Tinubu, informed Mr Buhari of his decision to throw his hat into the ring.
The Ebonyi governor said it was God that directed him to declare his intention when he did, but that God did not tell him if he will win the presidential election or not.
“God spoke to me– so it is progressive. So, I spoke when he asked me to speak. Based on what God is doing for us in our state, the economic indices—by God’s grace what we have achieved, lots of people believe that the same feat we can achieve at the federal level if given the opportunity.
“You talk to God, God talks to you, that is prayer and you listen to God, and I think I am at peace with this decision. It is not about God telling you that you will win or not, it is about God’s programme. I think that the programme of God will be made manifest,” he said.
When asked about his chances against other heavyweights in the APC, Mr Umahi, who in November 2020 defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where he was elected as governor twice, said “Power belongs to God. God gives power to whomever he wishes. God brought a man from prison and made him president.”
Nigerian politicians are notorious for invoking the name of God whenever they are running for office, particularly the office of the president.
In 2018, the founder of a Lagos-based church, Latter Rain Assembly (now called Citadel Community Church), Tunde Bakare, disclosed to his congregation that God told him to run for president.
Mr Bakare, who was the running mate to Mr Buhari in the 2011 presidential election on the platform of the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC), said God told him “you cannot bring your political career to an end.”
He added, “Joseph (in the Bible) did not contest an election; yet, he became the prime minister of Egypt. Why must I worry myself about where to get the resources for the task? Your own duty in this assignment is to pray along with me. When it is the appointed time, He (God) will do it. When He tells me the time, you will hear about it.”
Seven months after the revelation by Mr Bakare, another pastor, Chris Okotie, the general overseer of the Household of God Church, said God directed him to write a letter to the National Chairmen of the PDP and APC to adopt him as their candidate in the 2019 election.
However, despite the directive from God, neither of the two parties adopted him as their candidate.
Mr Okotie, on two previous occasions, said God asked him to run for president.
“God spoke to me about my participation in the political process, which was why I took the step in the first place. He has not said anything contrary,” the clergyman one said.
Despite running for the position in 2003 under the Justice Party and in 2007 on the platform of the Fresh Democratic Party, he did not win.
Umahi on Igbo Presidency
Speaking further during the interview, Mr Umahi said the Igbo presidency will not be an issue of force but dialogue just as he frowned at the idea of a consensus candidate from the South-east.
According to him “It is not the Igbos that will decide who will rule this country, it is Nigerians that will decide. When people say Igbos should come together, that is even a minus. The project in view is Nigeria, whether it is 20 people from the South-east, should not undermine the chances of getting someone from Nigeria. Coming together is like a conspiracy.”
He added that “We (Igbo) have been in PDP as a region, casting all our votes and of course putting all our eggs inside one basket. The South-east under PDP should be given the opportunity to fly the ticket for the presidency. I did not by any means see that the gladiators, the owners of PDP were ready to give the Igbo a chance.
“There is a lot of sentiment among our people. It is to be by dialogue not by force. I believe strongly that South-east people are builders, they have invested in other regions of this country.
“It depends on who becomes the president, we must see the past antecedent of the person. We must see how inclusive the person is – is he somebody that is divisive in his attitude? If we get the best from the South-east that will be a plus for us.”
When asked about Mr Buhari’s response to his declaration, Mr Umahi said the president asked him to consult widely.
He stressed that “Mr President believes in giving everyone opportunity to run. He told me people must consult widely. “
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