BY STANLEY AHUKANNA in Abakaliki•
There was a twist in Ebonyi State on Saturday as the State Traditional Rulers Council promised to give 90 per cent of their votes to the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Alhaji Atiku Abubakar in the February 16th presidential election.
This is coming few days after the traditional rulers backed the re-election bid of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress (APC), and the second term bid of the state Governor, David Umahi of the Peoples Democratic Party.
The promise of the traditional rulers to Atiku was contained in an address read by the Chairman of the state Traditional Rulers council, HRH Eze Charles Mkpuma, which was signed by over 85 traditional rulers when Atiku paid them courtesy call at EXCO chambers Government House Abakaliki during his presidential campaign in the state.
The endorsement of Atiku came a day after the same traditional rulers endorsed Buhari during his visit to seek for votes in the state.
Mkpuma had said their decision to endorse Buhari was informed by his relationship with the state governor, David Umahi. But the Monarchs made u-turn when Atiku visited the state.
“We wish to state unequivocally that our State, Ebonyi, is a PDP state and we shall overwhelmingly vote for all PDP candidates. Indeed, not less than 90% of our votes cast, notwithstanding the fact that we had assured the President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari that he will get some votes in Ebonyi state.
“We believe that your highly valued experience and profound voyage into Nigeria political history and leadership will equip you sufficiently for the task ahead”, the Traditional Rulers told Atiku.
However, while endorsing Buhari few days ago, the Traditional Rulers said, “Buhari is loved by the people of the state because of the robust relationship he has with governor Umahi despite the fact that they belong to different parties”.
He said the relationship with the duo would translate to more votes for the president on Election Day, while commending Buhari’s strides in tackling the security challenges and corruption in the country, saying he deserves their votes irrespective of party differences.
“We appreciate your dogged determination to maintain utmost security of the country especially your effort in eliminating Boko Haram and fight against corruption which has brought respect and integrity to the country among committee of nations.
“We believe that your robust relationship with our son the governor and your loved for him and the state will surely earn you votes in Ebonyi state irrespective of party differences.”, the monarch said.
Mkpuma said the traditional rulers are happy with the leadership of the governor, David Umahi, who has virtually touched every facets of human and infrastructural development of the state, adding “we the traditional rulers like other residents of the state have been rejuvenated and revived by the governor.
They told the President that Umahi deserves a second term for the sake of equity as the two former governors before him from other zones also had two tenures.