Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP’s vice-presidential candidate, has described the party’s G-5 governors’ rant over alleged injustices in the party as a distraction.
Speaking through his chief press secretary Olisa Ifeajika, on Monday, Mr said the Southern Governors’ Forum at a meeting in Asaba resolved and later reiterated in subsequent meetings in Lagos and Enugu, to work towards the realisation of Southern presidency, but when the forum members returned to their various parties, decisions varied as each political party had different plans to approach the process of electing a presidential candidate.
“For us in PDP, the party told the governors that it may not go with their position because we are in opposition and in order to get it right, the party set up a committee headed by Benue Governor Samuel Ortom to advise it appropriately on the zoning of the ticket,” Mr Ifeajika told a press conference on Monday. “The Ortom committee, in its wisdom, recommended that zoning be jettisoned to allow all aspirants to participate in the primary to enable the best to emerge.”
Mr Okowa’s chief press secretary added, “The committee presented its report to the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), where it was agreed to open the presidential ticket to enable the best hands to emerge as recommended. As far as we are aware, no member, including the governors or group, protested the party’s decision. They all acquiesced and accepted the party’s decision on zoning.”
He argued that “there was no treachery anywhere because no agreement was reached. The party’s position prevailed, and delegates at the Presidential Primary voted as they wished.”
Mr Ifeajika said after the primary, some party chieftains were talking about betrayal.
“Why didn’t they raise their voices against the party’s decision not to zone the ticket to any part and rise against it? They agreed to it; (they)participated, only to start an agitation without foundation after a candidate had emerged. I see the G-5 Governors’ agitation as a distraction, and I appeal to them to sheath their sword and beat a retreat as quickly as possible to join the party’s rescue mission,” Mr Okowa’s spokesman explained.
He, however, stressed that “they remain very senior members of PDP and they remain an important factor because the next election is a low hanging fruit for the PDP to pick if we close ranks. We believe that Nigerians would vote for the party.”
On the G-5 Governors’ agitation for the sack of PDP chair Iyorchia Ayu, Mr Okowa’s spokesman said it was a constitutional matter that should be addressed appropriately.
“In Rivers state where Wike holds sway as governor, the governorship candidate is from Rivers South, and the chairman of the party in the state is also from Rivers South. We didn’t see Wike tell the party Chairman to step aside because a governorship candidate emerged from the same senatorial district with him,” he reasoned.
The Delta governor’s spokesman added, “It becomes germane if Atiku emerges president and the party chairman remains in office. There is no law that compels Ayu to resign because the North has produced the presidential candidate unless he decides to step aside of his own volition.”
He pointed out that “one would have thought that having pursued the agitation without yielding results, they will beat a retreat, but if they go ahead to endorse another candidate aside the PDP Presidential candidate, appropriate steps will be taken.”