Sunday Ehigiator writes that for President of the Emmanuel Umohinyang Foundation and Coordinator of Re-elect Buhari Movement, Emmanuel Umohinyang, his advocacy is based on the need to keep the nation on a steady progressive course
Emmanuel Umohinyang is a man that wears the toga of many offices- a legal counsel, philanthropist and president, Emmanuel Umohinyang Foundation, as well as Coordinator of Re-elect Buhari Movement (RBM). Notwithstanding the large portfolio he manages, he ensures none suffers at the hands of another.
While his current passion and advocacy is tailored towards the RBM given the time frame before the forthcoming general elections, his interest in his foundation hasn’t waned one bit as he has in recent times feted over 1000 widows and most recently, alongside old students of West African Peoples Institute (WAPI), Calabar, Cross River State, powered the scholarship of 12 indigent students.
According to him, Emmanuel Umohinyang Foundation was 10 years as at December 23, 2018, adding that what they do in the foundation is just to look around and see to it that those around feel the impact of why they are alive.
He said, “A man cannot be said to be serving God if you cannot serve the people. So what the organisation is just out to do is to help the widows, orphans, the physically challenged and the indigent people in the society, and it is just a way of giving back to the society that has helped you to where you are. That is the purpose of the foundation. I think in the last 10 years, we have touched over N3 million lives, and we are still counting. By the grace of God we hope that the eleventh anniversary will be better than the tenth.
“You must also understand that we learnt from the best. President Muhammadu Buhari also has a foundation called Katsina Foundation, since he retired from the military, and he has been doing so well with that foundation. And the wife has also taken towards that direction with the Future Assured program. Get to their website and see the wonderful projects her Excellency’s Future Assured program has been doing. Some of us were in the office in the past where we criticise the office of the First Lady as unconstitutional, I agree. But if you look at what this woman had done, in the last three and half years, we would have had reservations on such attacks on the office. So all I am saying is that, there is no way we can go back to our homes and sleep comfortably when the generality of the people are in pain. How do you cope in an environment where you are able to eat three square meal a day, and your next door neighbour has not been able to eat one square meal. This is the purpose of the foundation, and the foundation has been doing that in the last 10 years, and we will not get tired, we will continue to do it.”
To many who know him, his servitude in giving back to the society, was perhaps one of the many reasons why he got involved in RBM, a social advocacy cause that intends to ensure that President Muhammadu Buhari secures another four-year tenure in office. The movement as it were, has already garnered momentum over time and has presence at the national, state, local governments including at ward and unit levels across the federation.
But in his own words, the group’s endorsement of Buhari is in obedience to the late sage Gani Fawehinmi’s directive in 2007. Going down memory lane he said: “In 2007, after our great mentor; Late Chief Gani Fawemi contested election in 2003, and elected not to contest the 2007 election, he called us and told us that henceforth, we should give our support to the current president of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari. It was widely reported, when he raised Buhari’s hand as a man he endorsed for the 2007 election.
“Outside that endorsement, we have equally taken our time to look at Nigeria from 1999 to 2015, and we couldn’t fault the position taken by the erudite lawyer. We watched events too; first, the coming of President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999; that administration was just for eight years and Atiku Abubakar was the vice. We also watched the brief period of the late Musa Yar’Adua. We also saw the five years of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan. And I think the last administration gave us the zeal not to continue to sit on the fence, but to also join and see to it that our country does not go the way the elite wants it. And on that note, in the month of June, we called ourselves and felt we should see what we can do to contribute to help our country move away from this part of destruction that we find ourselves.
“It was on that note we threw our weight behind President Muhammadu Buhari as a candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). To the glory of God and the support of Nigerians, coupled with the technology that was introduced in 2015, we won the election. If you look at what the president has done between that period and now, you cannot compare it with the 16 wasted years of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). So our RBM became a child of destiny. Hence, we sat down and also felt we needed to project the works of this current administration.
“And as you know, RBM may be a political pressure group, but we belong to different political parties. Some of our members don’t even belong to APC, including me. And so, we have a focus, and that focus is to support mr. president in February election. Not for any particular gain, but to see to it that the pattern the government has taken to reshape and rebuild our country is sustained. And I think that is one reason why RBM was formed, and the only reason why RBM is in existence. I also want to reassure you that by the grace of God, by the time we get Nigerians to get the president reelected, on February 16, next month, we will also hold a press conference where we will shut down the platform of RBM because it is not there to galvanise support for any other person; not even the governorship candidate of any party. “
On why they feel the president deserves a second term he said, “Fortunately, I come from the South-south part of the country, but I don’t play ethnic politics. I want to give you one illustration. In 2010, when the former president, Goodluck Jonathan wanted to go and campaign in Anambra, he stood at Onitsha Bridge and said that if he does not finish the second Niger Bridge, by 2015 he would go on exile. As much as we love Jonathan as our brother, it is not enough. And that is why the country is where it is, because we feel that whenever whosoever comes in, we pet that person. Even when he is doing things that are wrong, we continue to give the person support, without necessarily calling the person to order or pointing at the slope he is descending to.
“You also remember the electricity, which he launched the road map here in Lagos. The promises he gave? When you now look at a man that was prided as a PHD holder; you and I would have gone to sleep on the pretext that, ‘now we have a PHD’ in the saddle, things will change for good. When you also look at his brief history, on September 16, 2010, when he was declaring; the day he brought the infamous ‘I have no shoe doctrine’, one could say for a man who has gone through these suffering in life, the people will be his people. To his credit, he may have meant well, but peradventure, the government was hijacked, because under Jonathan we saw the worst kind of government ever we can ever imagine. It was under that administration you saw corruption develop legs, wear cloths and was walking round the system. It was a government that allowed the door to the treasury to be widely opened, including the windows and all kinds of shenanigans found themselves in.
“It was also the reason why so many were killed because there was no money to procure weapons. The story of Jonathan will not be told now. A time is coming, a generation is coming and they will come and open register, and all the atrocities that administration committed will be brought to the front burner for all to see.”
On the inroads made by the group he said: “We have gone round without even depending on government data to speak for government. We have structures from the national to the zonal and the state coordinators, to the council supervisors, to the wards, to the units; so all we need to do was to call them and send a message, for them to go round their units, wards etc. and send us pictures of what this administration has done. And we have those pictures live. And we can attest to it that President Muhammadu Buhari has done excellently well.
“In three and a half years, what PDP could not smell for 16 years. It is only normal for us to say, let us give him another four years. And that is the point we have taken. We have seen other candidates that have shown up; I think 73 of them at the last count. We are not saying that some of the candidates cannot perform; yes, they can. But we are saying that; ‘look, the constitutional provision eight years was not automatic. But in the past we have run it in an automatic manner, where somebody can rise up and say to our faces that ‘there is no vacancy in the villa’.
“We have had in this country when a famous man by name ‘Mr. fix it’ sits down and decides who wins an election. He sits down to tell you there is no vacancy, and indeed, there is no vacancy. But that was those ugly days when election was written in their various homes. Not now that the ballot is being counted, not now that your votes is showing forth, not now that people’s thumb is their power. So I am saying that, from what the government has done, they deserve our support. And that is why RBM is going all out to see that the president gets a second term and do more for Nigeria.”
Umohinyang, who addressed the three key areas the president had promised to tackle in 2015, especially in the area of security said, “It is ridiculous when you mention PDP, because you and I were in this country when force Headquarters was blown up; when UN house in Abuja was blown up. Are you talking about the Iyanya blasts? We were in this country and we know that insurgents held four to several local governments in the country. Their flags were everywhere. There were not just collecting taxes; if you fail to pay you are dealt with, rules were brought in, our constitution was desecrated. The sovereignty of Nigeria was obvious to the whole world that it was under threat and I don’t see where they said they did anything about insurgency. They failed woefully, and I know that Nigerians are people who have retentive memory; we knew what happened under PDP in terms of insecurity. This administration may not have gotten it 100 per cent, but you cannot take if from President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration; he has gotten 85 per cent in terms of security. And I challenge the PDP to put their score card forward, for Nigerians to compare.
“Therefore, we must avoid voting people without character to rule over us. Forget what is being put outside there that they have changed, and Nigerians has forgiven them. I don’t know where they got that theory from, but I can tell you, Nigerians are very much aware of that evil era. And that evil era is gone and gone forever. Well, if the PDP tomorrow decides to change its name, it is not really the party we are talking about, it is the actors who played the key roles in destroying our system; these are the people we are talking about. And those same people are coming back again to say they want to rule us. We will not allow it. I can assure you that come February 16; Nigerians will rise, and ensure that these people do not find their way, either through the front door, back door, or even through the window, back to power.”
Responding to the fact that those actors who were part of those that spoilt the system in 16 years are now part of APC he said: “You have raised a valid point; that some of the alleged looters are now in APC. It is very easy for one to allege, it is for you then to bring those proof to the table. Secondly, these people that you said have returned back to APC, have their case been stopped? The constitution makes provision for freedom of association. And I do not see as a political party, a man wants to defect from one party to the other, and would be denied because he has a case pending in court. They have not been convicted. Even those that are convicted still have the rights to belong to whichever association they want to belong. But all I am challenging is that, whosoever have decamped to APC, there is not even one person, who has been convicted or under investigation that the president has said; ‘EFCC, ICPC or the police to stop investigation’. I am not aware of any. And I am not also aware of any who has a case in court, whom the government of the day have said, for the mere fact that he has come to join us, your sins are forgiven. I think all these people are still going to trial. At least a governor who defected to APC was convicted. It would have been easy for the president to say, ‘for coming in attorney general, get him off the hook’. But this president, I can assure you will never do that. One thing we enjoy is that we have a honest man in the saddled, and that is the difference between now and the last 16 years. I can assure you that, for those who have joined the party, no one will be spared. Immediately your hands are soiled, you will face the music. The court will pronounce on you and you will go and answer your case.
On what more to expect from this government this 2019, if elected again he replied thus, “if you know mr. president, he is not giving to talking too much. And some of us who have close relationship with him, we know when he speaks, he speaks from his heart. Yes, the PDP started the issue based campaign strategy. But when they saw the fire of principles was hot on them, they had no issues to put forth. These are people, who mismanaged the country for 16 years. They went back and started talking about the president’s family members owning Keystone, Etisalat, and I am not going to be surprised if tomorrow they tell you that, the president himself owns Emirate airline. These are people who don’t have anything to tell Nigerians. But I want to reassure you that the president stands on his three points program. He still stands on security, corruption and economy. And he has done relatively well in the last three and a half year. It is only normal in my place, when somebody have done well; you tap him in the back and tell him to continue”.
His take on the recent statistics that shows the high rate of poverty and unemployment in the country was that the present government inherited a rotten foundation that must be methodically rebuilt.
With all these structures in place, it is no gainsaying that Umohinyang’s hope is to use the RBM to galvanise votes for the president considering the makeup of its members spread across different political parties.