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Austin Umahi, the younger brother of Minister of Works, David Umahi, on Friday, withdrew from the Ebonyi South senatorial bye-election, citing the zoning of the position to Onicha Local Government Area by the State Working Committee of the All Progressive Congress (APC) at the behest of Governor Francis Nwifuru.
His withdrawal came after a meeting held by the Umahi family of Uburu, Ohaozara LGA, where they persuaded him to step down from the race.
The senatorial seat became vacant following the resignation of Senator Umahi upon his appointment as Minister of Works.
In a statement released by High Chief Nwaze Umahi, the eldest son of the Umahi family, they noted Austin’s contributions to building the APC in Ebonyi State, acknowledging that Austin would have been a strong contender if he pursued his ambition.
However, they stressed the importance of peace, stating that no position is worth causing strife or harming anyone. They urged sincere individuals seeking to serve the people not to resort to conflict.
The statement read, “The general public is hereby intimated that on December 28, 2023, the family of late Joseph Umahi Nwaeze of Umunaga Uburu, Ohaozara LGA, Ebonyi State held a meeting whereat we reviewed the developments and utterances with respect to the vacant Ebonyi South senatorial seat which Austin Umahi had indicated interest in contesting on the APC platform and notes as follows:
“That the Umahi family is not unaware of the resolution purportedly passed by the State Working Committee (SWC) of the Ebonyi State APC purportedly zoning the Ebonyi South senatorial seat to Onicha Local Government Area.
“That the family is not unaware that the purported Ebonyi APC SWC resolution has no place in law as it’s the exclusive preserve of the APC National Executive Committee (NEC) or the National Working Committee (NWC) to zone political offices if need be, and to organise party primaries for all elective offices.
“That the family is fully convinced that it is the inalienable constitutional right of Austin Umahi, as a member of the APC and Nigerian citizen of Ebonyi South Senatorial District, to contest the APC primary for the rerun election to the vacant Ebonyi South Senatorial seat notwithstanding the purported Ebonyi APC SWC resolution.
“That the whole essence of the purportedly Ebonyi APC SWC resolution is to oust Austin Umahi from contesting the primary in view of the clear evidence on ground that Austin enjoys an overwhelming grassroots support capable of granting him outright victory in a free and fair APC primary and re-run elections in Ebonyi South.
“That contrary to the purported Ebonyi APC SWC resolution, the APC otherwise has a MORAL BURDEN to give Austin Umahi the right of first refusal in the Ebonyi South senatorial rerun election having earlier won the APC senatorial primary of 28th May 2022 which he relinquished on the intervention of the family to HE Engr David Umahi, the then Ebonyi state governor and current Minister of Works.
“That Austin Umahi is known to be a reliable APC member who has worked selflessly and relentlessly for victories of the party in Ebonyi State and was the Director General of Divine Mandate Campaign Council for HE Rt Hon Francis Ogbonna Nwifuru, his sole agent in the governorship primary and his State Returning Officer in the governorship election of March 2023.
“He did all these to the satisfaction and admiration of both the APC members and non-members in Ebonyi State.
“That Austin Umahi has never enjoyed any political appointment, notwithstanding that he was the same person who dropped his position as National Vice Chairman of the PDP to defect to the APC with the then Ebonyi state governor, HE David Umahi, and joined since then in building the APC in 2020.
“Notwithstanding the facts above highlighted: The family of late Joseph Umahi Nwaze has decided to passionately appeal to Austin Umahi and his teaming loyal and dogged supporters to kindly shelve his legitimate ambition of contesting for the vacant Senatorial seat for now in order to give peace a chance and disappoint all those people who want to engender crisis and anarchy in Ebonyi South Senatorial District.
“That the family immensely appreciates Austin Umahi for accepting to drop his just ambition and thank his teaming supporters for their sustained support even after the purported Ebonyi APC SWC resolution.”