The Ebonyi Council of Traditional Rulers on Wednesday said President Muhammadu Buhari would get the support of many voters in the state at the February 16th presidential election.
The traditional rulers also endorsed the state governor, David Umahi, for a second term.
This is even as President Buhari expressed satisfaction that the impact of federal government projects was being felt in Ebonyi State.
The chairman of traditional rulers council, Charles Mkpuma, said Mr Buhari is loved by the people of the state because of the robust relationship he has with Mr Umahi despite the two being in different political parties.
He said this would translate to more votes for the president on election day
He gave the assurance during an audience with the president at the Ebonyi State Government House In Abakaliki.
Mr Mkpuma, who commended Mr Buhari’s determination to tackle the security challenges of the country, especially terrorism, and fight against corruption, said he deserves their votes.
The monarch, who spoke on behalf of 140 traditional rulers in the state, said the president has done well in the fight against Boko Haram and corruption.
“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 in the comity of nations.
“We believe that your robust relationship with our son, the governor, and your love for him and the state will surely earn you votes in Ebonyi State, irrespective of party differences,” the monarch said.
Mr Mkpuma said the traditional rulers were happy with the leadership of Mr Umahi, who he said has touched every facet of development in the state. “We the traditional rulers like other residents of the state have been rejuvenated and revived by the governor,” he said.
The traditional rulers told the president that Mr Umahi also deserves a second term for the sake of equity, as each of the two former governors before him from other zones served two terms.
“Since the inception of the present democratic dispensation, Ebonyi State has operated rotation of the governorship seat among the three senatorial zones. Thus, North had eight years with the same man, central had two terms with same man, and south is entitled to eight years with the same man.
“It is right and proper that tradition should continue. This is why we have endorsed incumbent Governor David Umahi, whose performance has been historic and superlative, as the sole candidate for 2019 gubernatorial election in Ebonyi State.
“We are happy with the governor. he has touched every facet of human and infrastructural development of the state”, Mr Mkpuma said.
The monarchs later presented 1,000 yams and 1,000 bags to Mr Buhari.
President Buhari, on his part, commended the governor for infrastructural development in the state.
He promised that monies spent on the completion of the federal projects will be refunded after the review committee would have audited the projects.
According to him, Mr Umahi told him during their short drive to the Government House, that he had not received up to 40 percent of the funds spent on federal projects in the state.
He said he assured the governor the monies will be refunded once the audit committee headed by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, conclude its work.
Mr Buhari told the traditional rulers that his administration’s investment in agriculture was a deliberate policy, recalling that the First Republic was good in agriculture because the land was abundant and grazing routes developed.
“But subsequently, we got drunk with oil money and abandoned what kept us intact. But we are going back to that (agriculture).”
He assured the monarchs that the southeast will benefit from the second Niger Bridge when completed as it will affect the region positively in moving goods and services.
He pledged that his second term will be of benefit to the south-east as he would not be seeking a third term.
The governor, Mr Umahi, in his remarks said irrespective of some perceptions, the southeast has benefited from federal government projects.
He said the federal government’s agricultural programme has benefited the state immensely and resulted in an increase in rice production.
He noted that the state has a comparative advantage in agriculture and solid minerals.
“Southeast has fared very well in terms of distribution of projects. We have an abundance of salt and we have found a solution on how to develop our salt and we needed your help to do that and you gave your approval. The solid mineral development fund is also assisting us to develop our solid minerals.
“We have also benefited very much from your agricultural programme and we have a comparative advantage in agriculture and solid minerals and we are grateful for the support in this area from you.
“Our people may be complaining about appointments but I keep saying that you are a listening president and you are still coming. The relation with the state and the way you have taken me as your son, we are grateful”, Mr Umahi said.