Governor, federal lawmaker bicker over destruction of Atiku’s campaign billboard

The damaged billboard in Abakaliki
The damaged billboard in Abakaliki

The Ebonyi State governor, David Umahi, has accused members of a group supporting the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, in the state of destroying a billboard they installed to draw attention to the group.

Some hoodlums on Friday attacked the campaign office of the support group, Friends of Atiku, and mutilated a giant billboard in front of the office at Mile 50 Abakaliki.

The support group is led in the state by a member of the House of Representatives, Linus Okorie, who fell out with Mr Umahi last year after he was defeated at the PDP primary.

The support group has since replaced the billboard. However, the governor said Mr Okorie’s group stage-managed the incident to draw attention and money.

He spoke during the swearing-in of some commissioners and special advisers.

The governor noted that no billboard of any presidential campaign had ever been destroyed in Ebonyi.

He said the state is a PDP state and would gain nothing from destroying the billboards of the PDP presidential candidate.

“A lot of us sit and complain ‘Oh nothing is coming’. What do you want to come? God says no food for lazy man.

“I read on online about a support group that the billboard had been destroyed, and I know the character behind the installation of the billboard because he is not getting enough attention he has to destroy it to get attention.

“And for me, it is disingenuous. I have told my people instead of sitting down and doing nothing, destroy something and start fixing it back. So the guy has no work, no attention. Ebonyi State is united under the Divine Mandate.

“So, the guy, an evil genius, he destroyed it. Nobody is destroying Atiku billboard in this state, nobody is destroying the president’s billboard. We are very law-abiding”.

But in a swift reaction, Mr Okorie described the comments by the governor as uncharitable and unexpected of his exalted office.

He said he does not need cheap tricks to be popular in a state he has been a major stakeholder in the past 20 years and played a major role in making Mr Umahi governor in 2015.

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Mr Okorie expressed shock that the governor did not condemn the destruction of the billboards of the presidential candidate of his own party.

He, however, said he was happy that the governor for the first time mentioned the name of the PDP presidential candidate and called on the governor and stakeholders in the state to team up with his group to deliver the state to the PDP.

“I am also looking forward to seeing the governor’s Divine Mandate campaign vehicles and materials branded with the images of Atiku and Obi.

Mr Okorie, a two-term member of the House of Representatives, represents Umahi’s Ohaozara/ Onicha/Ivo constituency.

He fell out with the governor, who was his longtime ally, during the party’s primary last year when the governor, citing zoning arrangement, backed another candidate, Mark Makwe who emerged the candidate of the party for the seat.

Since then, a cold war has been on between the governor and the lawmaker.

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