3rd January, 2023
By Ifeanyi Olannye
Mr Olisa Ifeajika, Chief Press Secretary to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, said the G5 governors led by Governor Nyesome Wike will be punished if they endorse another presidential candidate aside from Atiku Abubakar.
Olisa added that Okowa, the Vice-Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), did not betray anyone in the party’s presidential primary.
While speaking at a news conference on Monday in Asaba, the media aide argued that Okowa heeded the PDP’s directives and decisions in all matters concerning the presidential convention as a loyal partyman.
He recalled that 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 the Southern Presidency.
Ifeajika explained that when members of the forum returned to their various parties, decisions varied as each political party had different plans for approaching 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 zoning of the ticket.
“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.
“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.
“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,” he said.
Ifeajika said that long after the primaries, some people were still talking about betrayal and wondering where the G-5 governors were when the Ortom Committee presented its report.
“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, 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.
“They remain very senior PDP members, 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,” he added.
On the G-5 governors’ agitation for the sack of Ayu, Okowa’s spokesman said it was a constitutional matter which ought to be addressed at the appropriate time.
“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.
“It becomes germane if Atiku emerges as 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 on his own volition.
“One would have thought that having pursued the agitation without yielding results, they will beat a retreat, but if they go ahead and endorse another candidate aside from the PDP presidential candidate, appropriate steps will be taken,” he stressed.
On Obasanjo’s endorsement of Peter Obi, he said Obasanjo merely exercised his constitutional right, adding that Nigerians might not listen to him.
“You will recall that sometime ago he tore his party card and said he wants to remain a statesman. What he has done is the exercise of his constitutional rights.
“He was against Buhari in 2019, but he later won, and that means that many Nigerians didn’t listen to him, and that may also play out this time around,” he said.