By Celestine Okafor (Editor-in-Chief) @CelestineOkaf11
After sixteen (16) days of intensive search, political permutations and internal intrigues, Presidential Candidate of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 polls, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Wednesday, finally unveiled Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.
The announcement of the choice of Okowa by Atiku on his tweeter handle on Wednesday afternoon, has finally put-paid to speculations that his first runner-up in the Saturday May 28, 2022 presidential primary and Rivers state governor, Barrister Nyesom Ezenwo Wike, will be the choice of both Atiku Abubakar and his party, the PDP.
The former Vice President who is picking his running mate sixteen days after his emergence as the presidential flagbearer of the PDP, formally presented Okowa to his party and to the Nigerian voting public in Abuja, this Thursday afternoon.
Okowa has strongly been on the cards as a likely choice for the slot of Atiku's vice, before the Nyesom Wike factor came up early this week. Other candidates equally peddled in the media space as being considered, include Akwa Ibom state governor, Udom Emmanuel; former Senate President and ex-Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyim; Senator Chimaroke Nnamani and Enugu state governor, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa's emergence as the pair to Atiku, followed several nights and days of assessment of the potential candidates presented to him for consideration. But it was last night's (Wednesday) meeting between Atiku Abubakar and the top leadership of the PDP that the notty issue was finally resolved and a consensus was reached on Dr Ifeanyi Okowa.
NIGERIAN NEWSLEADER Newspaper gathered on Thursday from apex PDP sources that Okowa will face a party panel that will screen him later today (Thursday) or tomorrow, Friday, shortly before the close of submission of the list of Vice Presidential nominees by political parties to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)
Atiku in his unveiling of Okowa on his tweeter handle on Thursday wrote: "I am delighted to announce Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as my Vice Presidential candidate. I’m pleased to announce the one that will be by my side. I look forward to travelling our great country together, engaging with all Nigerians and building a shared future of peace, unity, and prosperity for all. As One We Can Get It Done".
The PDP flagbearer held meetings with the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party at it's Abuja headquarter, where he affirmed the need for internal unity of the party ahead of the Campaigns and the elections proper.
He said though the decision to pick his running mate was a tough one for him which he ultimately had to make, but that he settled for Okowa based on what he considers as his "serious" disposition, which, according to him, is in tandem with the signs of the times in Nigeria.
“It is a difficult decision that I am called upon to take. But, as someone hoping to lead a complex country such as ours, tough and difficult decisions would remain a part of my everyday life.
“In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party including our Governors, National Working Committee, Board of Trustees, and other leaders to seek their inputs and their wisdom", Atiku explained.
The PDP flagbearer said Okowa is someone who he feels was well prepared to succeed him as president of Nigeria at any moment, and as "a President-in-waiting".
He said he chose Okowa among the potential candidates recommended to him because the Delta governor “personifies not only the seriousness the current moment represents for our country but also the future that our young people yearn for and deserve.
"I know that he will not only add excitement to our already energized ticket and campaign, but will also help to bring focus, discipline and stability to our government, come 2023. I am pleased, therefore, to announce here my choice of Running Mate who will help to lead us to victory next year not only in the Presidential election but also in the governorship and legislative elections.
“In these consultations, I made it clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a President-in-waiting.
“In other words, the person must have the qualities to be President. The person must have an appreciation of the deep rot which our country has been put into by the rudderless APC government; understands the great suffering that most of our people are going through and the urgency of relieving them of that suffering; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.
"In addition, my Running Mate has to be someone who is not afraid to speak his mind and give honest advice, and, be by my side as I work very hard to reverse the destructive impact of the past seven years of the APC government.
"Please join me in welcoming to the ticket the next Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Governor Dr. Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa", Atiku stated. NNL.