….PDP South-South Governors Rally Round Okowa
There is serious Disquiet in the main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) following the string of endorsements of Labour Party presidential candidate, Mr. Peter Obi by two elder statesmen, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and Edwin Clark.
Obasanjo in his new year message to Nigerians declared his preference for Peter Obi as the next President of Nigeria.
Following his steps, Elder statesman and leader of the Ijaw nation, Chief Edwin Clark also declared his support for Obi.
Chief Clark while announcing his position at a news briefing in Abuja based his endorsement of Mr Obi, who is the Presidential Candidate of the Labour Party on traits he believes are critical to leading the country.
Explaining further, he cited honesty, trust and transparency, all of which he said Mr Obi displayed when he was governor of Anambra State.
Chief Clark called on Mr Obi to tackle the issues of the injustices and environmental degradation in the Niger Delta region if elected as President.
The Ijaw leader’s backing is the second high-profile endorsement to be received by Mr Obi in three days.
Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, had in a New Year message, Sunday, endorsed Mr Obi for President.
In the New Year message he personally signed, the former President said Mr Obi had an edge over all the candidates in the race.
He said, “None of the contestants is a saint but when one compares their character, antecedent, their understanding, knowledge, discipline, and vitality that they can bring to bear and the great efforts required to stay focused on the job, particularly looking at where the country is today and with the experience on the job that I personally had, Peter Obi as a mentee has an edge.
“Others like all of us have what they can collectively contribute to the new dispensation to liberation, restoration, and salvaging of Nigeria.
“One other important point to make about Peter is that he is a needle with thread attached to it from North and South and he may not get lost.”
Chief Obasanjo’s endorsement has sparked strong criticism from other Presidential candidates and their parties with the APC and the PDP faulting him and moving to dismiss the former President’s political influence.
Amid the negative reactions from other contenders and parties, Benue State Governor, Dr Samuel Ortom, on Tuesday backed the former President and praised Mr Obi’s qualities.
Governor Ortom’s Special Adviser, Media and Publicity, Terver Akase, in a statement on Tuesday, said the governor “strongly recommends Peter Obi to Nigerians as the man who has the capacity to effectively tackle the economic, security and other challenges facing the country”.
The Governor stated that if he were not a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) he would have personally led Obi’s campaign across the country.
Governor Ortom is one of five aggrieved PDP governors known as G5. The group is led by Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike also has Seyi Makinde (Oyo), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Okezie Ikpeazu (Abia) as members.
The governors have refused to campaign for the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, insisting on the removal of the party’s National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu, as a condition for revolving the internal dispute in the party.
Meanwhile, three governors from the South-South, Godwin Obaseki, Edo, Duoye Diri, Bayelsa and Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta on Tuesday met for over three hours to strategise to ensure victory for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in this year’s presidential election.
The meeting came against the background of the endorsement of Labour Party presidential candidate Peter Obi by South-South leader, Chief EK Clark.
Emerging from the meeting held at Delta State Governor’s residence at Owa Alero in Delta State, Governor Obaseki told journalists that the meeting was to felicitate with the party’s Vice-Presidential candidate and to wish him well in the election.
“It is a new year. We go round facilitating as a family to wish each other well and pray the new year brings good tidings to the party. We are here today to visit our brother, Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, Governor of Delta State and Vice-Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the 2023 Presidential election.
“We wish him well in this election year and by the grace of God, he will be the next Vice-President of Nigeria. We pray God Almighty will make our dreams come through this 2023.”
Governor Diri, who spoke on the position of the G-5 governors, said the party is not ruling out discussing with them to persuade them to return and support and work for the victory of the party’s candidate.
“We want a united PDP and each time we meet, we focus and discuss the unity. We are not ruling out speaking to our brothers even today, we have also discussed the possibility of speaking to them to return to our party.
“We are calling on our brother-governors to be part of their own party and work in unity with every other person. We still want our brother governors back so we can visit them the way we visited our brother, Governor Okowa who by God’s grace will be the Vice-President of Nigeria.”
The meeting of the PDP South-South governors would also have considered the implications of the endorsement of Peter Obi by Chief Clark against the interest of Okowa. Clark is a powerful voice in the region that has, however, been a stronghold of the PDP.