Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has continued to receive commendations from far and near, over his choice of the Delta State Governor, Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
Prominent amongst those, who had hailed Atiku over his choice partner were the PDP Governors’ Forum led by the Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal; National Chairman of the party, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu; the Chairman, PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Senator Walid Jubrin; former Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu and Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Ndidu Elumelu, among others.
Atiku had, 24 hours to deadline set for the submission of names of presidential candidates and their deputies by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced Okowa, as his running mate.
The main opposition party, had been back and forth on the choice of its running mate since its presidential convention on May 28, including setting up advisory committees to assist on the choice of the most suitable candidate, and further delayed till 24 hours before the INEC deadline.
However, unknown to many, the choice of running mate is a decision the presidential candidate of any party alone, is constitutionally empowered to make and not of anyone else as clearly spelt out in section 142 ( 1) of the 1999 constitution as amended.
The section states thus: “In any election to which the foregoing provisions of this Part of this Chapter relate, a candidate for an election to the office of President shall not be deemed to be validly nominated unless he nominates another candidate as his associate from the same political party for his running for the office of President, who is to occupy the office of Vice-President and that candidate shall be deemed to have been duly elected to the office of Vice-President if the candidate for an election to the office of President, who nominated him as such associate is duly elected as President in accordance with the provisions aforesaid.”
The PDP presidential candidate, therefore, exercised this power and right, although after comprehensively consulting with other stakeholders such as the NWC, BoT, founding fathers, elders of the party to ensure that all of them were carried along, before finally settling for the Delta State governor, yesterday.
However, sources close to the Atiku campaign informed THISDAY yesterday that, the party plans to offer Wike, who came second in the primary and was one of the top contenders for the postion of VP, the Director General of the Atiku campaign and also a very promient role in the government if they win the election in 2023.
Atiku, who at the unveiling of Okowa as his partner on the presidential journey, boasted that he was never afraid of taking difficult decisions, also donated the sum of N10 million to victims of the recent attack on St. Francis Catholic Church, Owo, Ondo State.
On his part, Okowa, while accepting his nomination, claimed Atiku, had solutions to the numerous challenges bedeviling the country.
Reacting to the development, while Ayu, said Okowa was chosen on merit, Jubrin, also described the choice of Okowa as an act of God.
Addressing party members, Atiku, said with the convention behind the party, “We have arrived at the stage for me to pick a running mate, because this is a joint ticket. I am very happy to announce today that I have reached a decision on that.
“In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party, including our governors, National Working Committee, Board of Trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom. In these consultations, I made clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a President-in-waiting.
“In other words, the person must have the qualities to be president. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot, which our country has been put into by the rudderless APC government; understand the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understand the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.
“The person must appreciate the critical importance of education in the development of modern societies so we can prepare our young people to be able to compete in the increasingly competitive and globalised world.
“My running mate must understand that without security, development will be very difficult, because local and foreign investors, who have been scared away already, would not return to invest in our economy. Thus, my running mate will be a person, who will stand by me as I confront the frightening level of insecurity in our land.
“As you know, the APC government went to sleep as huge swathes of our country’s territory fell into the deadly hands of gangs of criminals, including those masquerading as freedom fighters or pastoralists, while our farmers and genuine pastoralists are unable to go about their businesses.
“The costs in precious human lives and properties have been enormous. My running mate must also not only symbolise the imperative of reuniting our country but also be able to work with me to achieve that objective. This is because a united Nigeria is a potentially stronger, more prosperous, and more secure country able to lead Africa and give hope to the Black race.
“In addition, my running mate has to be someone, who is not afraid to speak his mind and give honest advice, and, be by my side as I work very hard to reverse the destructive impact of the past seven years of the APC government.”
The PDP candidate explained that in the United States of America from where Nigeria borrowed key aspects of current presidential system, “a running mate is used to balance the ticket, complement the candidate and, after victory, assist the president with governance. Sometimes a candidate is chosen, who generates a buzz and adds huge excitement to the campaign.
“But, today in Nigeria, we face huge challenges, which leave us little room for drama. We have to win the elections and get to work immediately. My running mate has to be ready to start working with me, from day one, in addressing our country’s challenges. Nigerians will not accept anything less.
“That is why I promised the governors of our party that my running mate will come from among them. Our current challenges call for a government that is highly focused and disciplined.
“I have sought the support, guidance, and counsel of the PDP in selecting a befitting running mate, who meets all or most of the qualities enumerated above. The wisemen and sages of the party, put together by our NWC, have gone fishing and brought home an enviable group of awesome politicians that surpasses these qualities.
“Everyone of the recommended persons is a fit and proper individual to hold this office. While this makes me marvel at the bundle of talents that abounds in our party, it also compounded my task of choosing a single person from among them.
“Let me, therefore, pay tribute to my party and, most especially, to all those that made the shortlist that must now be narrowed down to a single person. They are all dedicated party-men suitable for this task. I wish all the recommended persons could be announced today as my running mates. Unfortunately, only one MUST be chosen.
“It is a difficult decision that I am called upon to take. But, as someone hoping to lead a complex country such as ours, tough and difficult decisions would remain a part of my everyday life. Let me, therefore, start this momentous journey with a crucial decision about who, among the eminently qualified shortlist, would be my running mate.
“Accordingly, let me state that the person I have chosen as my running mate possesses all those identified qualities. He personifies not only the seriousness the current moment represents for our country but also the future that our young people yearn for and deserve. He is a serving state governor, who has demonstrated, in his state and through his conduct, that governance is about service to the people.
“I know that he will not only add excitement to our already energised ticket and campaign, but will also help to bring focus, discipline and stability to our government, come 2023. I am pleased, therefore, to announce here my choice of running mate, who will help to lead us to victory next year not only in the presidential election but also in the governorship and legislative elections.
“And he will be by my side as I work hard every day to provide our people with security, revive our economy, improve education and unite our country. He has both legislative and executive experiences. Please, join me in welcoming to the ticket, the next vice-president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa.
“You know him to be a fighter; you know him to care about winning; you know him to care about good governance; and you know him to care about our people. Now, my dear friends, let’s do the disciplined hard work necessary to win this election. Let’s go. Thank very much.”
Speaking on party unity, Atiku said, “Party unity is critical not only for us to prosecute a winning campaign but also to provide good governance that our country seriously deserves and our people earnestly yearn for. The task of winning the coming elections will be a tough one and we must not take anything for granted.”
Accepting his nomination, Okowa said, “First, I must give thanks to God for this day and I want to appreciate the party for having a very successful convention. And I thank the national chairman and his team and the chairman of the convention committee for giving us a convention that everybody could definitely say two or three are fair. And we came out more united than people ever thought.
“I want to thank you, sir, for all that you’ve done through this very period. I thank God that you were able with your team, the National Working Committee, to steer the party through this period, and we have produced a very experienced candidate, who can take back Nigeria in our rescue missions. I’m sure that we will be able to begin the rebuilding process of this nation right from May 29 2023. We must thank God for that.
“Mr. President-in-waiting, I must truly thank you for finding me worthy to be on this ticket. I do know that it was a very tough decision, even as you have spoken this afternoon. But I thank God that amongst my very qualified colleagues, even those more qualified than myself, that I found favour and I’m here today as the vice-presidential candidate of the party.
“While thanking you, I do understand that it’s a great work that is ahead of us. By the special grace of God, we will work hard to ensure victory for the party. There is no doubt that there is a great work ahead of each and every one of us.
“The building back process is going to be collective and we’re trusting that all of our team members will want to be part of that story at the end of the day. The story which will obviously be positive and will yield positive results, will require that each and every one of us must support our principle as we move forth in the next few months, and that at the end, we will win the elections with a landslide victory.
“So, we must create in ourselves, in yourself, a new approach to political issues, a new commitment, which I believe we all yearn for. It will require a lot of commitment from each and every one of us. It will require the unity of each and everyone of us in our various wards, in our various local governments and states. We need the PDP to return to power.
“We have answers to the questions because I’ve had the opportunity of going through our candidates book, and I hope each and every one of us will take time to go through ‘My Covenant with Nigeria’. It is something worth studying. It is something put together, which I don’t think, other presidential candidates of other parties have not been able to put together. You need to go through it. You will find the solutions to our problems in that document. I also appreciate our presidential candidate publicly for making this happen earlier.
“Based on social media reports that he has taken time to understudy, because of the experience that he has had in the past, he has been able to prepare solutions. I believe that we will definitely by the special grace of God, we go for the elections, we will wins landslide. I am very happy to be on this tickets.
“I am sure by the special grace of God with the national chairman leading us, it should be well with our party. Please, let’s join hands together to walk with our principal to ensure that we win the elections landslide once again. I want to thank Mr. President-in-waiting for finding me worthy to be on the tickets. I want to thank the party for accepting that I be on this ticket,” Okowa stated.
Earlier, National Chairman of the PDP, Dr. Iyorchia Ayu, explained that, Atiku wrote NWC to help help choose a presidential running mate, adding that upon the receipt of the letter, he set up a 17-man committee headed by the Deputy National Chairman, Ambassador Umar Damagun, and a decision reached was transmitted to Atiku.
The PDP chairman, who denounced claims that, “No voting took place when they met,” stated that the selected committee reached their decision based on consensus and the presidential running mate was chosen based on own merit and criteria as the NWC has no inputs at all.
The occasion was witnessed by the Governors of Edo, Godwin Obaseki, Bala Mohammed of Bauchi State and Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, among others, including all members of PDP leadership.
Thereafter, Okowa went for screening before the Tom Ikimi-led committee, which gave the Delta governor a pass mark.
Jubrin, who described the choice of Okowa as an act of God, said in a statement that, “this decision must be generally accepted as the act God, who gives life to who He wants and takes away life from who He wants. He has bounties unlimited.”
Urging all PDP members to accept this decision in good faith and give the strongest support to Atiku as President of Nigeria and Okowa as his vice-president, he said, “Both Muslims and Christians must come together to give support to them all.
“All PDP members must come together to unite for PDP to take over from APC Government of Buhari. All Muslims and Christians must come together and forget any religious differences and regard Nigeria as one entity. All Nigerians should vote for PDP to ensure that Atiku and Okowa are fully accepted and voted for,” he stated.
PDP Governors Forum Congratulates Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa on VP Selection
The Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum (PDP-GF) yesterday congratulated the Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr. Ifeanyi Okowa, on his emergence as the Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party in the 2023 General elections.
In a statement signed late yesterday by the chairman PDP Governors Forum. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal noted in particular that the PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, promised to select a serving PDP Governor as his running mate, ostensibly not just because of the contributions of the Governors to the effective running of the Party and its stability, but because of their experience and executive capacity. He kept his word.
He said that Governor Okowa has distinguished himself as Governor of Delta State, stating that he also has cognate legislative experience as a former Senator as well as what it takes to be an effective Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Tambuwal said ‘ the great task of recovering, rescuing and rebuilding Nigeria begins with the Atiku / Okowa ticket. The APC has completely messed up Nigeria. It has failed in all aspects of governance; insecurity, bad economy, dysfunctional education, health and social services are the hallmarks of the APC administration.
“With the Atiku/Okowa ticket help is on the way. We shall overcome” the chairman of the PDP Governors said.
Obaseki, Secondus, Ekweremadu, Elumelu Congratulate Okowa
The Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki, former national chairman of PDP, Uche Secondus, former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and House of Representatives Minority Leader, Ndidu Elumelu, have congratulated the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on his emergence as the running mate to the candidate of the PDP in the 2023 presidential election, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Obaseki, in a statement, said Okowa’s emergence would translate to victory for the party in the forthcoming elections.
“I heartily congratulate you, my friend and brother, His Excellency, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa on your emergence as the Vice Presidential candidate of our great party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)
“An energetic grassroots mobiliser, Okowa, a two-time governor, senator and commissioner, has the needed experience that would guarantee victory for our party in 2023 elections in our bid to rescue the country and place it on the path of progress and prosperity.
“As we embark on this all-important mission to rescue Nigeria, we must now all work together in unity, as a people and party, to reclaim our country.”
Secondus, in a statement from his media office, commended the duo for the maturity they brought into the contest, which must have been responsible for their eventual victory.
He described Atiku as a square peg in a square hole, whose pedigree in the nation’s political space remains outstanding and speaks for itself, adding that his choice of Okowa as running mate said it all about his knack for picking good heads to be around him for the gargantuan task ahead.
He however, said with the picking of a running mate, the candidacy was complete and PDP was now set for the inevitable journey back to Aso Rock come 2023.
Ekweremadu, in a statement by his media aide, Uche Anichukwu, also described Okowa as highly resourceful and prepared for the office of the Vice President.
He commended the party and its presidential candidate, Atiku for the decision, while calling on all party leaders and faithful to go to work to ensure the success of the ticket at the presidential polls.
“I join our party leaders, party faithful, and supporters in congratulating my brother and friend, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, on his emergence as the Vice Presidential candidate of our great party, the PDP.
“This is a sound choice by our presidential flag bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar and our party. No doubt, Okowa brings immense electoral value to the PDP ticket. He is highly resourceful and he is prepared for the Office of the VP. I urge every party leader and member to now go to work to ensure the success of the ticket at the 2023 polls,” he said.
Elumelu, in a statement, said Okowa’s confirmation as running mate was no doubt informed by the confidence and trust reposed in him by Atiku, other PDP leaders and supporters of the party across the nation.
He, therefore, expressed optimism that with Abubakar leading the charge, and Okowa by his side, the PDP was sure of victory in the 2023 presidential election.
“I heartily congratulate you, Your Excellency, Sen. Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, the humble, hardworking and down to earth Governor of Delta State, on your emergence as the Vice-Presidential Candidate of our great party the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 general election.
“You have again brought honour and pride to our dear state, Delta, where you have demonstrated uncommon commitment as evinced in your unprecedented achievements in all sectors and we assure you and His Excellency, Atiku Abubakar, of our unalloyed and unwavering support for the task ahead.
“His Excellency Atiku Abubakar is a statesman par excellence, a brilliant administrator, remarkably committed and competent leader, a unifier and detribalized Nigerian, who has exceptionally deep understanding of the challenges of our nation and the solutions thereto.
“Importantly sir, as a leader, particularly, as the Chairman of the South South Governors’ Forum, I earnestly urge you to use your emergence to immediately initiate processes that will lead to peaceful reconciliations and calming of all frayed nerves including some leaders, who may feel sidelined or scorned in the process of nominating the vice-presidential candidate.”