Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has been elected as the Chairman of South-East Governors’ Forum. Chief Umahi was unanimously endorsed at a meeting of the forum attended by all the governors from the zone in Enugu on Sunday.
Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu, who announced this after a closed door meeting, said that the lot fell on Umahi to lead the group because Abia and Anambra had had their turns in the past.
“I want to specially recognise the oldest member of this forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo and Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra.
We have just risen from a meeting and it is my pleasure to officially introduce the chairman of the South-East Governors’ Forum in the person of Gov. Dave Umahi.
He is our chairman today because Anambra and Abia have taken their turns in the past and we are moving forward from Ebonyi flank at this moment,”
Governor Umahi explained that his election was an honour to lead the forum even though he might not be the most qualified.
“I want to thank my brother governors and to accept the leadership position my colleagues have pushed on me.
“Not being the most qualified but they decided that I should be the chairman of the forum at a time like this. I want to thank them with all sense of humility,” Umahi said.
Meanwhile, Chief Umahi had said that the governors of the South-East agreed to set aside their differences and work for the economic integration of the region and welfare of the people.
The Governor said such move was in the interest of the people, pointing out that the meeting, which was the first of its kind since the 2015 general elections, discussed burning issues as they affected the region, various states and Nigeria.
“One of such was security integration. We have agreed to compare notes to talk with our commissioners of police and other security agencies to do our security integration.
“This is to have a common ground on the fight against kidnapping, robbery and other vices in our various states. We have realised that sometimes when a kidnap happens in Ebonyi State, for instance, they will be taken to another state of South-East.”
According to him, such move will be a better and sure way to secure the lives and property of the people.
Governor Umahi further said that they agreed to put in place a peer review mechanism and proper economic integration in order to support the economic aspect of the people in the region.
He noted that each of the governors would direct their commissioner in-charge of economic planning to come up with a blueprint for proper economic integration of the zone.
“We will come together, discuss and compare notes with the aid of consultants and come up with blueprints on how we can have proper economic integration of South-East.
“We have a lot of abundant wealth we can harness to better the lots of our people. It is for the interest of our people that we work together.”
Chief Umahi said that the forum was in support Ohaneze Ndi Igbo under the leadership of Chief Nnia Nwodo, and urged the people to accord them maximum support. We advice our people to give them all the support necessary to excel so that they will continue to be a voice for cultural integration and welfare of our people.”
This is the first time after the 2015 general elections that all the governors were meeting face to face at the forums’ meeting as some of the governors had in the past delegated their deputies to represent them at the meeting.