Access Bank

2023: Crisis looms as Gov Ortom berates Atiku’s choice of Okowa as VP candidate

Atiku, who emerged candidate at the party’s primary election in May, beating Rivers State governor, Nyesom Wike on the occasion, had a fortnight ago, named Okowa, governor of Delta State, as his running mate, in disregard for the recommendation of the party’s stakeholders, notably the governors wanted Wike on the ballot.

Wike, a widely popular figure within the party, who had been its key support structure since 2015, was recommended by the party’s governors as the vice presidential candidate, but Atiku opted for Okowa instead.

The decision is said to have angered most of the governors who have allegedly opted not to back his candidacy going into 2023.

“Many of the governors are not backing Atiku. They are angry with the way he neglected them in choosing Okowa, without consulting them,” a top party source who craved anonymity told THE WITNESS.

“You can see that all most of the governors have stayed away from him. His campaign is almost dead even before starting.”

Samuel Ortom, Benue State governor, who spoke on Arise TV on Wednesday morning, all but confirmed that the party is headed for crisis ahead of the polls as a result.

The Benue governor, when asked if he would back Atiku’s candidacy, said he is “fasting and praying” for divine guidance before deciding to support the former vice president’s presidential ambition.

Revealing how Wike brought him back to the PDP in 2015, Ortom lamented that the Rivers governor was treated unjustly after sacrificing so much from the opposition party when everyone deserted it.

“Why do you just send calls to Wike, you should have to go to him,” Ortom said. “When people left the party, Wike was on ground. It was Wike that brought me back to PDP when I was treated unjustly.

“He brought me back to PDP in 2015. You have treated Wike badly. The party and national level should go to him and appeal to him. He came second to Atiku.”

“The popular view of PDP members were neglected. 14 out if 17 voted for Wike to be the VP. In his wisdom, Atiku chose Governor Ifeanyi Okowa. Okowa is my friend, I have no problem with him but if we are in a democratic era and 14 out of 17 said it should be Wike and he decided to jettison the report, I expected more explanations. I expected him to talk to Wike first before announcing Okowa. Also, I expected him to even talk to some of us so that we can work together.”

Ortom who spoke highly of Wike’s capacity to mobilize support, restated that he was snubbed after all he did for the party.

“All of us have our weapon; Wike can be ‘something something’ but when it comes to mobilisation, impact, value addition and reaching out to make sure that the party works the man is an instrument. He’s somebody who stood for the party and made sure that things worked. Some of us believed in him, but unfortunately, it was somebody else. But the party is supreme,” he said.

“However, some of us have resorted to prayers. I have been in hibernation. We’ve resorted to prayer: ‘Lord God, where do we go from here.’ I believe as a Christian that power belongs to God. The Bible says a man can receive nothing except it is given to him from above.

“I am praying. I have gone into hibernation. I am fasting and praying. So in the end, if God directs me that I should support Atiku, why should I not do it? After all, he’s my party member. But I am waiting for him to do more. I expect him to reach out to Wike, who came second in the presidential primary. The man he denied the popular view of the PDP

Meanwhile, the Rivers State governor who is presently on vacation in Turkey with his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, has not reacted since Atiku named Okowa as his running mate.

He has neither congratulated the Delta State governor nor condemned Atiku’s decision, a development, it was gathered, has unsettled the party and kept leaders of the PDP guessing his next line of action.

Earlier in the week, the party’s board of trustees chairman, Walid Jibrin, noted that he would kneel down to beg the Rivers governor if that is what it would take to enlist his support.

The PDP was said to be more confused following Wike’s decision to keep his next strategies close to his chest despite receiving high-profile visitors from the PDP.

Unlike the outcome of the presidential primaries when Wike returned and lampooned his colleagues from the South for betraying the region’s quest to produce the next President, the governor had chosen to remain quiet after suffering what many observers referred to as public ridicule in the process that led to the choice of Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as Atiku’s running mate.

The Governor and his loyalists in the party were said to be pained that the party threw up a process designed to embarrass its strongest mobiliser.

They were unhappy that Atiku rubbed it in by publicly reeling out Okowa’s supposed qualities that made him a better choice than Wike without considering the feelings and the electoral capacity of the Rivers governor.

It was believed that Atiku had long chosen Okowa but merely dragged Wike into the race to create semblance of competition.

The silence of Wike over his treatment turned Rivers State to a Mecca of sort compelling high-profile visitors to consult with the Rivers Governor.

The presidential candidate of Labour Party(LP) Peter Obi; Bauchi Governor Bala Mohammed; the presidential candidate of New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Rabiu Kwankwaso, were among persons that had visited the governor.

Others are the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Philip Tanimu Aduda, Minority Whip, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Shuaibu Lau, Senators Danjuma Laah and Barry Mpigi.

Even a former Niger Delta Minister, Elder Godsday Orubebe, who recently dumped the PDP and a former Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, visited Wike.

They all separately met with Wike behind closed doors.

There were unconfirmed reports that the Rivers Governor might hold private meetings with the APC governors, APC Presidential Candidate, Bola Ahmed Tinubu and President Muhammadu Buhari.

However, in a statement issued on Thursday night, Aminu Tambuwal, governor of Sokoto and chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, who stepped down for Atiku at the party’s presidential primary, an action many saw as a betrayal of Wike who backed him ahead of Atiku in 2018, said Okowa has “what it takes” to be vice-president.

In the statement issued on behalf of PDP governor’s forum, Tambuwal said, “The PDP-GF notes in particular that the PDP Presidential Candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, GCON, 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.

“Governor Okowa has distinguished himself as Governor of Delta State. He also has cognate legislative experience as a former Senator. He has what it takes to be an effective Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“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.”

First Bank

About Daily Record

Check Also

Total blackout in Lagos, Abuja, others as electricity workers begin strike

The dispute between the National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) and the Transmission Company of …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *