By Biodun Busari
Vice Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa has said the Southern region did not pinpoint a sub-region that should produce President in 2023 before his emergence as a running mate to PDP presidential flag bearer, Atiku Abubakar.
He added that both the North-East and South-East are in agitations of Presidency as two regions yet to produce a President in this democratic dispensation.
Okowa said these to react to the condemnation of his vice-presidential emergence by the three major Southern groups describing his action as “betrayal of the highest order.”
Recall that the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF), on Friday, condemned Delta State governor for accepting his nomination.
This was contained in a statement signed by leaders of four groups which include Chief Edwin Clark, for the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) and the Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere, Dr. Dru Bitrus, the President-General, Middle Belt Forum and Prof. George Obiozor, the President-General, Ohaneze Ndigbo Worldwide.
Reacting in Channels TV Politics Today programme on Thursday, Okowa also said he will not argue with the group comprising elders as they are entitled to their opinions.
He also affirmed that he is an Igbo man but only from Delta State.
Okowa said, “First, I want to appreciate the elders for the comments they have made. There’s no doubts that they are entitled to their opinions that they have rendered to our people. I do not want to join issues with our elders because they will have reasons for making the comments they have made counting on the information that was available to them at that particular point in time.
“In the first instance, I’m Ifeanyi and there’s no doubt that I’m an Igbo man. I’m an Igbo man in Delta State, in South-South geo-political zone. Secondly, there is no doubt that the South-East has a right of agitation and as the South-East has a right of agitation, the North-East has also continued to make claims to the Presidency because from the records available, both the North-East and South-East have not been able to go ahead and produce a President in this country as at today.”
The governor said, “The Northeast feels they are entitled to presidency, the Southeast feels they are entitled to presidency, and both are right. If when we were talking about the issues of the Presidency, even PANDEF, not even PANDEF of the Middle Belt, Afenifere of the southwest and Ohanaeze in the collective voice insisted that it must be from the southeast.
“But the real truth is that they were just asking for a southern presidency without trying to situate it where ordinarily it should be. So, also are those who are also asking for presidency in the North have one reason or the other. If you ask question too, they will tell you since 1999 in the number of years till 2023, the South has more presidency than the north. People have opinions and the tendencies are different. The tendencies are different depending on the argument you are bringing in.
“But, as at today, the real truth is that the North-East and South-East have continued to lay claims it is their turn to have the presidency and I think that those claims are not wrong. They are obviously not wrong. But under the circumstance we find ourselves as vice-presidential candidate of the former President, Atiku Abubakar who is from the Northeast in our convention, that have situated by God’s grace when we win in 2023 to the Northeast.”