The governor of Delta, Ifeanyi Okowa, says it would have been a “disservice” if he had rejected the nomination for him to be the vice-presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Okowa spoke on Thursday in an interview with Channels Television.
On June 16, Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, named Okowa as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election.
Reacting to the development, the southern and middle belt leaders’ forum (SMBLF) criticised Okowa for accepting the nomination, and described the Delta governor’s decision as “betrayal”.
Prior to the PDP presidential primary, the SMBLF had insisted that political parties must zone their presidential tickets to the south, and also warned southern politicians against accepting vice-presidential candidate slots.
Speaking on the comment of the SMBLF, Okowa said his decision to accept the vice-presidential candidate slot is because of his loyalty to the party.
“First, I want to appreciate the elders for the comment they have made. There is no doubt that they are entitled to their opinions that they have rendered to our people,” he said.
“I don’t want to join issues with our elders because they will have reasons to make the comments they have made, depending on the information available to them at a particular point in time.
“I belong to a political party and that party is PDP. I have committed myself to the party and I remain a party member till today. As a party man, I am governed by the rules of the party. I am governed by the policy direction of the party, and have committed to being a member of that party. It is only right that my obedience is to the party and also the people of this country.
“To that extent, if my party, in a national executive committee meeting, takes a decision following the recommendation of a committee that they will throw the presidential race open for the best to emerge, and we did go into the convention and alhaji Atiku Abubakar emerged, it is only fair that if he is from the north and he is a Muslim, a Christian from the south should be his running mate.
“It would have been a disservice on my part to have turned down the vice-presidential nomination because I’m a party man to the core, and the only decision I can make at this point in time is to support my party to win the elections.
“I’m very much confident of the fact that the PDP has a role to play in rescuing this nation and rebuilding this nation for the future. I think the decision I did take is in consonance with the wishes of a large majority of our people in the PDP.”