Accuses him of betrayal *Okowa reacts to Clark’s call
By Henry Umoru & Festus Ahon
ABUJA—Three weeks to the February 25, 2023 Presidential and National Assembly elections, South-South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark, has asked Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State to, as a matter of urgency, resign as Vice Presidential candidate to the presidential candidate of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and former Vice President, Atiku Abubakar.
According to him, it has become very imperative for Okowa to step down against the backdrop that as staying betrays his colleagues in the Southern Governors Forum and South South in general.
Meanwhile, reacting, Okowa through the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said he would not join issues with the elder stateman, but “Nigerians were very much aware that Atiku/Okowa is the right team to vote for.”
Clark, who addressed journalists, yesterday at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, in a letter to Governor Okowa, said the governor and Atiku would not win the Presidency on joint ticket.
Clark said: “I can, therefore, understand why you have deliberately and immorally betrayed your colleagues from the South and the people for your selfish ambition by wanting to land on a safer ground by accepting to serve as running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
“No, by God’s grace, your prayer will not be answered. Perhaps you have forgotten the gravity of the offence you have committed against the people of the South.
“You gave them a very good reception and provided them a secretariat that drafted the communiqué under your supervision, which was ably read by the Chairman of the Southern Governors Forum, Governor Rotimi Akeredolu, of Ondo State.
“It was indeed a bombshell, as you collectively demanded for Southern Presidency and insisted that none of you should accept to be a vice president.
“Shortly afterwards, the Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum, SMBLF, which I lead, gave the governors’ declaration 100 per cent support and declared that no Southern serving governors, legislators or politicians should accept to be running mate, particularly to Atiku Abubakar.
“The 17 governors later met again in Lagos and Enugu to affirm the decision taken in Government House, Asaba.
“Little did we know that you were using this to perfect your secret plan to be running mate to Atiku Abubakar from the very beginning.
“We are, therefore, not surprised that you directed all the delegates from Delta State not to vote for Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State or Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State, who are your neighbours but instead, they voted massively for Atiku Abubakar during the PDP presidential primaries last year.
“It will be recalled in 2007, that Delta State finances were used in funding part of the election of Umaru Yar’Adua through the directive of President Olusegun Obasanjo. We were, therefore, not surprised when you too have decided to finance Atiku Abubakar with Delta people’s money because, there is nobody to challenge you. I repeat, you will not succeed.
“It is, therefore, in your interest to openly apologise to your colleagues of both All Progressives Congress, APC, and PDP, whom you deceived in taking a decision you never believed in. After your unreserved apology to your people and Southerners, you should step down your ambition of becoming VP of the PDP. There your honour lies.
“This man has betrayed us. We all agreed, we held serious of meetings that this man had betrayed us. We can no longer trust him.”
Okowa reacts to Clark’s letter
Okowa through the state Commissioner for Information, Mr. Charles Aniagwu, said: “First of all, as a government and also as a political party, we respect Chief Clark as an elder statesman and as an elder in Delta, we have enormous respect for him.
“Second, we acknowledge the fact that he already has a preferred choice in this election and we do believe that in a democracy that he has been around to also know that democracy provides people the latitude to stand where they think is good for them to play a role and to add value to society.
“Third, there has been so much talk about division of this country and there is a divided country between Sorth and South. It will not be proper for anybody to be advocating a situation where you are making it criminal that people are associating with our brothers from the North, that is not the country we are looking forward to.
“If you look at the statement of our elder statesman, he is suggesting that anybody agreeing to get close to our brothers in the North and work with them for us to get our country to function, is a betrayer, that means they themselves have inadvertently divided the country into two and that’s not the right way to go.
“I do believe that he has played his role, as a former minister, he knows that Nigeria is still one country and then holding the kind of view he is holding now just because he supports another candidate cannot be said to be reflective of patriotism and so, we continue to respect him and we urge him to understand that we do not support or believe in the same candidate does not in anyway suggest anybody has betrayed anybody.”
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