BusinessDay

Why everyone’s talking about Governor Okowa

EVERYONE is talking about Governor Ifeanyi Okowa’s choice as the vice presidential candidate of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. The loudest voice has been Governor Samuel Ioraer Ortom of Benue State who considers it a personal affront that Okowa, and not Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, was chosen.

Ortom said the 17-member group that PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar set up to recommend a running mate had picked Wike by a wide majority. He wants explanations from Atiku who he felt failed him and others.

Where do these affect Okowa who was busy being a party man when Atiku chose him? Is the debate about Okowa’s qualifications for the position?

It couldn’t have been. Another fore-runner of the anti-Okowa sentiments former Governor Fayose once suggested that Okowa should have been the presidential candidate instead of a running mate to Atiku. Fayose at least admitted that Okowa had the qualities for the office.

Any follower of PDP and its politics would not be unduly worried about the attacks on Okowa. Some ascribe the barbs to the fact that others who had their eyes on the position felt entitled enough that they took it for granted to be theirs.

When Olusegun Obasanjo chose Atiku in 1999 there was opposition to the choice though less vociferous. Was it different in 2007 when Umaru Musa Yar’dua picked Goodluck Jonathan over Peter Odili, then Governor of Rivers State and front runner in the 2007 presidential contest? Jonathan was the ultimate dark horse. Can one say the same of Okowa whose committee led the reconciliation of warring factions in the party and stayed away from the contest?

Jonathan chose Namadi Sambo, then Governor of Kaduna State as Vice President in 2010. Sambo was not accepted.

One of the stories that made the rounds was that the Presidency had become a completely South-South affair. Sambo was said to be from Agbede in Edo State, 44 kilometres away from Adams Oshiomhole’s Iyamho homestead. He did not represent the North, those opposed to the decision said.

Was it different when Peter Obi got the nod in 2019 as vice presidential candidate? What wasn’t said about him? Who supported the decision, again by the same Atiku?

Ortom is the most implacable of the agitators. His posturing is what it really is. He should be answering a few questions before his self-imposed retreat commences.

As chairman of the committee that worked on the party’s decision on zoning of the presidency, exactly what did he do? Weren’t the voices for zoning of the presidency to the South, specifically the South East, louder than his lamentations over Wike’s loss of the vice presidential candidate slot? What did his committee recommend?

Media leaks – which he denied – had it that the committee had zoned the presidency to the South. Where was Ortom when party chairman Iyorchia Ayu upturned the decision of the committee? His silence was a profound acceptance of the fact that contrary to the party’s policy on zoning, the presidential candidate and the party chairman are both from the North. Did he go on a retreat then? What stopped him from addressing the violation of his party constitution? He is now threatening to bring everything to a halt.

All these make his support for Wike suspicious. Is he suggesting that Wike is only good enough to be a vice presidential candidate?

The Governors were supposedly backing one of their own to be the presidential candidate. How did they approach the matter? If one included former governors, there were six of them in the race. Governor Aminu Tambuwal withdrew from the race and supported Atiku. Ortom witnessed all that.

Read also: Atiku’s quest, an opportunity for Igbo presidency – Okowa  

Atiku admitted it was a tough decision but stated Okowa met most of the qualities he wanted for his vice presidential candidate.

“He is a serving state governor who has demonstrated, in his State and through his conduct, that governance is about service to the people,” Atiku said while introducing Okowa.

“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.

“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,” he said of Okowa, who had been Secretary, and Chairman of Ika North Local Government Area, a Commissioner, Secretary to the Delta State Government, Senator, before becoming Governor of Delta State.

“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,” Atiku explained his choice.

It would challenging to find anyone who would pay more glowing tributes to his running mate. Or a candidate more qualified. Why are the oppositions unceasing?

Many reasons could be adduced for the disagreements within PDP. One is that Okowa was a shocking choice as he appeared distant from the rolling storm of politics that enveloped the position once Peter Obi left PDP. Again, PDP has a history of these rumblings.

The other is that with the two other major presidential candidates having not made their final selection of running mates, Okowa’s towering visibility has attained more prominence.

PDP’s battles to regain power are on a stable sail. Okowa is a strong part of it.

Finally…

Ibrahim Muhammad Tanko, former Chief Justice of Nigeria, ended his tenure the way it began in 2019 – in a blaze of blusters. His own colleagues accused him of improprieties. His resignation on grounds of ill-health may not quell the storms that ended his 17 years in the Supreme. President Muhammadu Buhari conferred the national honour Grand Commander Order of the Niger, GCON, on him as if the allegations had no meaning. The successor Olukayode Ariwoola is already embroiled in a controversy over his age.

.Isiguzo is a major commentator on minor issues

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