Ahead of the February 25 poll, the National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Iyorchia Ayu has said the “calm, articulate and brilliant” mien of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State was considered for his selection as the running mate to the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The PDP national chairman also said aside from Okowa’s disposition, the party national leadership decided to “reward” Delta with the keenly contested position after the party’s presidential primary in May 2022.
Ayu spoke on Wednesday when he inaugurated the Ogheye Floating Market in the Warri North Local Government Area of the state.
He also accused the All Progressives Congress (APC) of taking Nigeria back by 50 years and urged the people of the state to vote out the ruling APC in the forthcoming presidential election.
“The destruction that the APC government has done in this country has taken us back 50 years. And we need to recover and rebuild our country; we can’t do it without your support,” he said.
“When we recognised as a party, the sterling contributions of Governor Okowa – his character as a calm, articulate and brilliant young man, we, the leadership of the party decided that Delta State has to be rewarded because Delta State has produced several outstanding governors and this one (Okowa), in particular, we felt should be promoted upstairs and therefore, we selected him with the approval of our presidential candidate as the next vice president of Nigeria.”
Ayu has been in the centre of a crisis rocking the main opposition party following its presidential primary last year.
Atiku, a former vice president, won the primary with Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike as his closest contender. Permutations were ubiquitous in the wake of the primary that Atiku would pick Wike as his running mate but in a twist of events, the PDP candidate settled for Okowa, who is considered by some stalwarts as less strong in the party compared to the Rivers governor.
Following the episode, Wike and four other PDP governors known as the G5 or the Integrity Group have since demanded the resignation of Ayu in what they described as calls for “justice and equity” within the party.
The G5 said it is opposed to “northern dominance” in the leadership of the party, saying Adamawa-born Atiku and Benue-born Ayu cannot be the party’s presidential candidate and national chairman simultaneously.
The five governors have insisted that Ayu step down for a southern replacement as a precondition to support Atiku’s decade-long ambition next month.
Wike and his allies have said they would announce their preferred candidate later in January.