Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
Former Federal Commissioner for Information and South South Leader, Chief Edwin Clark has asked the Delta state Governor Ifeanyi Okowa to resign from being the running mate of Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, presidential candidate.
Addressing journalists on Wednesday at his Asokoro residence in Abuja, the Leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum, (PANDEF); and Southern and Middle-Belt Leaders Forum (SMBLF), Chief Edwin Clark, had accused Gov. Ifeanyi Okowa and the Vice presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, of financing the presidential project of his principal, Atiku Abubakar, with the resources of Delta State.
The elder statesman who made the allegation at a press conference Thursday, in his Abuja residence, also asked Okowa to resign from being Atiku’s running mate.
Clark accused Okowa of sabotaging Southern interests as it was agreed among stakeholders including Okowa that no Southerner would be a running mate to a Northern presidential candidate in 2023.
He bluntly declared that Atiku would lose the February 25 presidential poll as his ambition is in breach of the prevailing power rotation between the North and the South.
Clark argued that it was unfair and sheer greed for the North to tend to retain power beyond 2023 after the zone had held power for eight years when the incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari came to power.
The PANDEF Leaders, in a letter dated February 2, 2023, addressed to Governor Okowa, declared that the Governor and Atiku would fail woefully in the forthcoming presidential poll.
Clark also accused Okowa of being dictatorial even more than military administrators, challenging him to publicly account for the resources of Delta State under his watch.
The letter read in part: “Today, I say with certainty that you are more dictatorial than any other military administrator that has administered Delta State since its creation in 1991.”
“I can therefore understand why you have deliberately and immorally betrayed your colleagues of Southern Nigeria and the people for your own 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 Southern Nigeria.
“In order to cover your nefarious plot, you voluntarily induced everyone to host a meeting of the 17 Southern Governors in Government House Asaba on Tuesday 11th May 2021.
“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 governor’s declaration 100% 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 your 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 would be recalled in 2007, that Delta State finances were used in funding part of the election of Umaru Musa 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 own interest to openly apologise to your colleagues of both APC and PDP whom you deceived in taking a decision you never believed in. After your unreserved apology to your people and Southern Nigeria, you should step down your ambition of becoming Vice-Presidential candidate of the PDP. There your honour lies.”
Gov. Nyesom Wike of Rivers and his G-5 Governors of the PDP, have also vowed to work against Atiku’s presidential project if the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, did not resign.
The G-5 Governors argued that it was unfair for the North to have both the party’s presidential candidate and the National Chairmanship position of the PDP.