Fresh facts have emerged on the real reason Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State lost the 2023 Vice Presidential slot of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State.
Okowa yesterday, emerged as the running mate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, following intense horse-trading of party bigwigs that knocked off Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, who had been the front runner for the slot for two weeks.
“The person I have chosen as my running mate 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 energized ticket and campaign but also help to bring focus, discipline and stability to our government, come 2023. He has both legislative and executive experience,” the PDP presidential standard-bearer, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said while unveiling Senator Okowa as his running mate.
Factors that worked against Wike
Wike was close to being selected but Prestige News gathered that last-minute politicking and some crucial factors swayed Atiku Abubakar to pick Okowa as his running mate.
Although the selection committee set up to assist Atiku to pick a running mate was predominantly and favourably disposed to Wike, the presidential candidate opted for Okowa, who he felt is level-headed and had the right temperament to add value to the ticket. A reliable party source told Vanguard that Atiku held meetings which lasted into the early hours of “this morning (yesterday).”
The source said: “The candidate has to prove very early enough that he is his own man. The decision for him to pick Okowa was made easy by the fact that he was on the list of those short-listed. There were also pressures from powerful interests who cited Wike’s hard stance on issues of taxation, especially concerning the Rivers State court case against the Federal Government, on Value Added Tax, VAT.
“Because the Vice-President will be in charge of the economy, several people felt it would be too risky to have someone with Wike’s temperament in charge. There is also the issue of legislative liaison. The candidate (Atiku) explained and rightly too that Okowa, who was a senator, is better placed to build synergy between legislators and the executive.”
It was also gathered that members of the panel had voted in favour of Wike with the firm belief that choosing him would further unite the party.
Why I chose Okowa — Atiku
However, Atiku promised not to shy away from taking tough decisions to move the nation forward when voted into office in 2023.
While unveiling Okowa as his running mate for the 2023 presidential election, in Abuja, Atiku appealed for unity within the party’s rank and file as it prepares for the electioneering campaigns and elections proper.
He said: “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 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 energized 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 experience. 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.”
Atiku further explained that in arriving at the decision, he held wide consultations with various stakeholders within the party including governors, The National Working Committee, the Board of Trustees, and other leaders to seek their input and wisdom.
He said, “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; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”
He added: “In the United States of America from where we borrowed key aspects of our 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.”
“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 wise men and sages of the party, put together by our NWC, have gone fishing and brought home an enviable group of awesome politicians that surpass these qualities.
“Every one 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.”
While admitting that the task of winning the coming elections will be a tough one, he said the party must not take anything for granted.
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