Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, has said he did not betray the southern governors and the region by accepting to be the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general elections.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) recently described Okowa as a traitor for accepting his nomination as running mate to Atiku.
However, Okowa’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, in an interview with Daily Trust, said it is unfair to accuse his principal of betrayal when it was his party, the PDP, that nominated him as running mate to Atiku.
He said the southern leaders didn’t object when the PDP threw its presidential ticket open while there was no record of southern PDP governors agreeing on a consensus candidate during the primaries.
He said Okowa, as a loyal party man, couldn’t reject the nomination by his party.
“All the PDP governors from the South were part of the decision that PDP was going to throw its ticket open. They were there when the decision was taken.
“The southern PDP governors didn’t complain. Also, the southern leaders didn’t complain when Atiku emerged on May 29. Between May 29 when Atiku emerged and June 16 when Okowa was chosen, there was jostling and horse-trading for the VP slot by the South East and South-South before it was narrowed down to the South-South.
“And from public records, when it was narrowed down to the South-South, the governors of Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Delta were considered for the job; the southern leaders didn’t ask them not to take it then,” he said.
He also rubbished reports that Okowa and some southern governors worked against presidential aspirants from the region during the PDP primaries.
He stressed that the South presented aspirants from the three zones in the region, thus ruling out the possibility of a consensus.
Ifeajika also said there is neither division nor factions in the party, noting that all grievances would be addressed before the general elections in February 2023.
Ifeajika, who said the PDP had emerged stronger from more challenging times in the past, stressed that Atiku-Okowa will emerge victorious at the poll.
“The ticket will run and run well and produce the president for the rescue mission of this country,” he said.