2023: Why I did not declare for presidency – Okowa

...urges callers to allow his decision remain

Ifeanyi Okowa, governor of Delta State, has revealed the reasons for not running for the 2023 presidential race, despite having many of his colleagues in the race.

He said that despite being qualified for the position that he was not fully prepared for the race.

The governor also expressed belief in the unity of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), saying that when every qualified person joins the race, it becomes a problem for the party to make final decision.

He gave the explanation in Asaba, Thursday while fielding questions from newsmen during his 2022 media quarterly briefing in the state.

Some concerned citizens had wondered why the governor has remained silent even when his counterparts across the country have been purchasing their parties’ 2023 presidential nomination forms.

Some of the presidential aspirants, especially those of PDP, had also visited the Delta State seat of power to consult with the governor and PDP delegates but the governor would always tell them to work for the unity of the party, without which they cannot succeed in taking over the leadership of the country.

It would be recalled that Chukwuka Monye, a 42-year old Delta-born technocrat, had in January this year, shocked many when he declared his intention to run for position of the president. Many wondered how he was going to achieve his political aspiration as he had no political party. Weeks later, he disclosed that he was running on the platform of the African Democratic Party (ADP). His declaration seemed to have thrown a challenge to others, hence since the month of March and April more politicians began declaring for same position on the platform of both the All Progressives Congress (APC) and PDP.

With the increasing number of presidential aspirants, some Deltans asked, “Why is Governor Okowa keeping silent? That was what he did in 2014. He remained quiet while others were picking governorship forms and declaring. At the last minute, he joined the race and became the Governor of Delta State.” They seemed to have seen history repeating itself.

Speculations were also rife that Okowa was eyeing the vice president’s seat, which they believe was reason some northern PDP presidential aspirants paid him consultation visit last month.

A segment of the society also think that Okowa, who served as a senator some years ago, is targeting to retire to the senate at the end of his tenure as governor in 2023, a reason they believe made him to be concentrating more on who succeeds him as Delta governor.

With all the assumptions, many Deltans want their governor to make his stand known to the people. Therefore, the media chat held at the press centre Asaba, on Thursday, provided the opportunity for the governor to explain himself. Some people even persuaded him to go and pick PDP’s presidential nomination form because, according to them, he has remained committed to his administration’s finishing strong mantra and never distracted in executing projects unlike other politicians.

“There were lots of pressures to run for the president but somehow I do not think I was fully prepared for that race. It takes a lot, I am a politician and as a politician I have done my own calculations. I do not just throw myself into the ring.

“I have to cross-examine the whole thing and I plead with those who had shown interest in my capacity, to allow my decision to remain.

“When all qualified persons are in the race, it creates problems for the party in the final analysis”, the governor said.

Okowa also tackled Omo-Agege over alleged N2 billion monthly pay to political touts.

According to him, it was unfortunate that Ovie Omo-Agege, deputy senate president, alleged that his administration was paying N2 billion monthly to political thugs.

He said such allegation coming from Omo-Agege, who represents Delta Central District, showed political immaturity, adding that Omo-Agege should have leveraged on his position to collaborate with the state government, irrespective of political party difference, to bring more development to Delta State.

“When people are in high offices, they should get the right information so that in your communication to Deltans, ensure you are speaking the truth.

“But when somebody rises and say they are using N2 billion to pay thugs, it is a very unfortunate statement.

“Making such a statement in a rally or a crowd of people when you know that you are passing a wrong message, I don’t think it shows any sign of maturity.

“I do know we do not spend N2 billion to pay political thugs. I am aware that the total payment to all political appointees in the state is not anywhere near N1 billion not to talk of N2 billion to political thugs.

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“So when somebody talks in that manner, it is very unfortunate. But I do not even know those he calls political thugs because we are not a violent party, the PDP is not violent.

“The same people who talk about thugs are actually the ones that are violent in this state.

“Whereas he should be collaborating with government, yes you belong to another political party but when you are in office, there must be a collaboration to seek the good of the state, you don’t just continue to make statements that are not correct because of politics.

“When you are in Abuja and people want to bring funds to develop your state but because you want to stay partisan, you block it. I don’t think that is in the best interest of Delta State.

“I will not play the kind of politics they play but when it’s time to talk to Deltans, we will speak to Deltans based on what we have done, based on what Deltans have also done to assist us to achieve what we have achieved,” asserted.

On the quality of his likely successor, Okowa stated, “You will know the direction that God wants us to go when we are approaching the congress, which has now be shifted to May 23rd.

“I hope and pray that whoever will succeed me will respect the will of the people, somebody who would have feelings for every Deltan, somebody who will unite Delta State and somebody who will be humble enough.”

Meanwhile, the kind of politics that has been going on in Delta State ahead the PDP primary elections has led to some stakeholders concluding that the PDP in the state is now divided between James Ibori, former governor and Okowa, the incumbent governor. It is believed that while David Edebvie is the preferred guber candidate of Ibori, Sherrif Iborevwori is that of Okowa. The two guber aspirants are from Delta Central District whose turn it is to produce the governor of the state. Analysts believe that this development has turned the Ibori political dynasty of PDP apart.

“On who will be my successor, and whether or not the Ibori political family is still intact, I urge Deltans to be a little bit patient because my successor shall be unveiled on May 23, 2022.

“All I can say for now is that my successor must be somebody who is people-friendly, approachable, somebody that will unite all and sundry in the state, humble enough to listen to Deltans, able to accelerate the ongoing building of a Stronger Delta beyond May 29, 2023.

“Yes, Delta PDP family is intact and Ibori political family is also intact. We play politics any time politics is meant to be played, and that does not mean we have a divided house, No. After electioneering politics, we shall remain one indivisible family,” Okowa said.

“To answer your question on whether I have endorsed some aspirants in the state, no I have not. As a leader of PDP in Delta State, I cannot be seen to be biased. There shall be free, fair and transparent primaries across board.

“And I am happy to tell you that all the aspirants are doing well and I wish them luck across board” Okowa said.

Some of PDP party faithful had alleged that Gov Okowa’ hijacked the party delegates to make it possible for his preferred guber candidate to win the primary election but he dismissed the allegation.

According to him, people who have been elected into various offices as contained in the constitution of the PDP including those that have held various offices in the past are statutory delegates.

“On April 5th this year, we had sat in Unity Hall (of the Government House, Asaba) where all the aspirants to various offices starting from the House of Assembly through the governorship, were present with the state executives and leaders of the party across the state where we all agreed that we will do a consensus. I am getting the three man delegate part ward. It was an agreement with everybody in place and that is what was done.

“I do not even know the delegates from my own ward not to talk of hijacking a list of delegates. And I am aware that everyone went back to his/her ward with the Ward Excos and leaders of each ward and throw up a three man delegate.

“And the whole thing was processed through the local government party chairman to the state exco and where they have issues, it is the state exco that will help to ensure that it resolves it in building the consensus, which is allowed in politics.

“On April 30th, they went to the various ward venues. So, there was no room for a governor Okowa to hijack the delegates”.

Okowa disclosed that some persons tried to hijack the delegates list against the agreement that was reached on April 5th but however failed, ‘because they introduced and bought forms outside our agreement and throw up persons at that point in time but they were not able to hijack the process.

“But on our own part, there was no attempt to hijack. I didn’t need to because if that was the intention, there was no need to have called that meeting of all aspirants, leaders and the state exco of our party to think about the modality of the ad-hoc delegates.

“The ad-hoc delegates are just three par ward. I think the best has been done, the ward leaders are working through the local government level through the state level, I think that they have done enough work to a reasonable consensus and that is the position concerning the issue of delegates”, Okowa said.

The APC in the state last week kicked the state’s House of Assembly over its approval of N150 billion loan request by the governor, alleging that it was for politics even as the party accused him of amassing debt for the next administration in the state.

Okowa disclosed that the bridging finance facility request of N150 billion approved by the State House of Assembly, was not a loan because the money would be taken from the N270.6 billion of Delta State funds owed it by the federal government.

“We shall use the money to complete key star projects and to also drastically reduce pension debts. My administration inherited huge pension debts and we shall continue to pay.

“Government will release N20 billion to Local Government Pensions Bureau to pay pensioners. Part of the money will also be used to deflate state pensions as well as execute major projects, which include ongoing construction projects at the three newly established and fully accredited universities.

“We attached a list of projects to the request that we sent to DTHA for approval. It is an honest and transparent process. The N150 billion bridging finance will be tied to the N270.6 Billion owed Delta State Government by the Federal Government.

“It is not a loan as wrongly projected on social and conventional media by the major opposition party in the state. They are trying to play politics with the facility, and that will not stop government from doing what is right and beneficial to the state and citizens.

“FG promised to pay the N270.6 billion in trenches for a period of five years. The money will continue to depreciate if not utilized right now. What we have done is for the best interest of the state and Deltans.”

He used the meeting platform to urge journalists in the state to join hands with his administration in preaching peace and sensitising the people against indiscriminate dumping of refuse in drainage channels across the state.

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