By Festus Ahon, ASABA
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State and vice presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, says his party’s presidential ticket with Alhaji Atiku Abubakar as principal is a big threat to the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the 2023 election.
Okowa, who spoke in a reaction to a statement credited to the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, in which he reportedly said his (Tinubu) running mate was better than the man chosen by Atiku, told Tinubu to discuss issues and not individuals in the build-up to electioneering campaign ahead of 2023.
He pointed out that the Muslim-Muslim presidential ticket of the ruling party at the centre had given Christians a unique opportunity to cast their votes for the PDP, a development, he said, would give room for all Nigerians to be represented at the federal level.
The vice presidential candidate spoke through his media aide, Olisa Ifeajika, in a statement, saying Delta was home for all tribes because he believed in the oneness of the country, and sued for peaceful co-existence in all parts of the country.
According to him, the choice of who was the better vice presidential candidate of the major political parties and the party to vote for in 2023 remained with Nigerians and not for one individual to try to influence by speaking derogatorily about opponents.
Okowa said he was picked as running mate by Atiku due to his soaring political profile, his contributions to national development and his exceptional performance as governor in the last seven years.
“Alhaji Atiku Abubakar had an interview on Arise TV some days ago where he said that Sen. Bola Tinubu approached him to become his running mate of the defunct ACN in 2007, but that he (Atiku) declined the request because he was averse to Muslim-Muslim ticket”, he added.
“In response to Atiku’s comments, rather than address the issues Atiku Abubakar raised, Senator Tinubu took a swipe at me, saying that his own running mate was better than Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s choice of Senator Okowa.
“We know Senator Bola Tinubu as a good politician and former governor of Lagos State. But we expect him to know that there are other politicians that are towering and are good, patriotic and have tried in their tracks to be statesmen.
“And, Delta Gôvernor and by the grace of God, Vice-Presidential Candidate of PDP, Senator (Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, is in this bracket. If Tinubu thinks that he is good, he should not foreclose that there won’t be other persons that are good or even better in politics where he thrives.
“It was his choice to pick his own running mate for whatever criteria he had. The same considerations, no doubt, the Presidential Candidate of PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, had in choosing Senator Ifeanyi Okowa over all the other candidates screened”.
Stating that politics was not a game of turn-by-turn, but competence, the statement reminded Tinubu that the National Health Act in the country today came from the effort of Okowa when he was in the Senate, and urged him to check in case he didn’t know or may have forgotten.
He added that it was on record that Okowa headed critical committees and sub-committees put in place by the APC-led Federal Government during the COVID-19 pandemic to help in mitigating the challenges posed by the scourge.
“We are asking Tinubu to face his contest. He has a joint ticket with whom he has chosen as his running mate just as Atiku has done. So, he should be preoccupied with how to go to the contest and leave the campaign of calumny”, the statement added.
“He should be discussing issues affecting the general wellbeing of the people, not discussing individuals”.