After a series of political horse-trading, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, on Thursday, finally settled for Delta state Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.
Atiku, announced Okowa as his running mate at exactly 12:57 pm, to the National Working Committee ( NWC) of the party, listing the criteria that influenced his decision.
Atiku disclosed that in arriving at the decision, he held wide consultations with various stakeholders in the party including the Governors, National Working Committee, Board of Trustees, and other leaders to seek their input and their wisdom.
“In these consultations, I made clear that my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a President-in-waiting.
Atiku declared that his running mate, must amongst other things, 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; understand the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.
“The person must appreciate the critical importance of education in the development of modern societies so we can prepare our young people to be able to compete in the increasingly competitive and globalized world.
“My running mate must understand that without security, the development will be very difficult because local and foreign investors who have been scared away already, would not return to invest in our economy. Thus, my running mate will be a person who will stand by me as I confront the frightening level of insecurity in our land.
He noted that as the APC government went to sleep, “huge swathes of our country’s territory fell into the deadly hands of gangs of criminals, including those masquerading as freedom fighters or pastoralists, while our farmers and genuine pastoralists are unable to go about their businesses.
He disclosed that the costs in precious human lives and properties have been enormous, adding that “ the running mate must also not only symbolize the imperative of reuniting our country but also be able to work with me to achieve that objective. This is because a united Nigeria is a potentially stronger, more prosperous, and more secure country able to lead Africa and give hope to the Black race.
“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,” the presidential candidate said.
The PDP Presidential candidate cited the example of the United States of America from where Nigeria borrowed key aspects of the current Presidential system, adding that “ a running mate is used to balance the ticket, complement the candidate and, after victory, assist the President with governance. Sometimes a candidate is chosen who generates a buzz and adds huge excitement to the campaign.
“But today in Nigeria, we face huge challenges which leave us little room for drama. We have to win the elections and get to work immediately. My running mate has to be ready to start working with me, from day one, in addressing our country’s challenges.”
He noted that Nigerians will not accept anything less, adding that, “ that is why I promised the Governors of our party that my running mate will come from among them. Our current challenges call for a government that is highly focused and disciplined”
“I have sought the support, guidance, and counsel of the PDP in selecting a befitting Running Mate who meets all or most of the qualities enumerated above.
“The wise men and sages of the Party, put together by our NWC, have gone fishing and brought home an enviable group of awesome politicians that surpasses these qualities.
“Every one of the recommended persons is a fit and proper individual to hold this office. While this makes me marvel at the bundle of talents that abounds in our Party, it also compounded my task of choosing a single person from among them.
“They are all dedicated party-men suitable for this task. I wish all the recommended persons could be announced today as my Running Mates. Unfortunately, only one MUST be chosen.
“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.
“Let me, therefore, start this momentous journey with a crucial decision about who, among the eminently qualified shortlist, would be my Running Mate.
“Accordingly, let me state that the person I have chosen as my Running Mate possesses all those identified qualities. He personifies not only the seriousness the current moment represents for our country but also the future that our young people yearn for and deserve. He is a serving State Governor who has demonstrated, in his State and through his conduct, that governance is about service to the people.
“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.
“And he will be by my side as I work hard every day to provide our people with security, revive our economy, improve education and unite our country.
“He has both Legislative and Executive experiences. 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.
“You know him to be a fighter; you know him to care about winning; you know him to care about good governance, and you know him to care about our people. Now, my dear friends, let’s do the disciplined hard work necessary to win this election. Let’s go.
He commended the Party for organizing and concluding, arguably, the best and rancour-free Convention, which produced me as our flag-bearer for the next year’s Presidential Election.
He also commended his fellow aspirants in that contest, adding that “ thank them for their sportsmanship. They put up spirited fights because they cared and care for our country. I have personally gone around to thank them and to seek their cooperation for the struggle ahead.
Atiku while noting that “Party unity is critical not only for us to prosecute a winning campaign but also to provide good governance that our country seriously deserves and our people earnestly yearn for. The task of winning the coming elections will be a tough one and we must not take anything for granted.
Okowa had earlier arrived the ( PDP) Secretariat for his screening, as the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, the party’s Presidential candidate.
The party Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu had earlier in his welcome address, debunked earlier reports that the party had endorsed Nyesom Wike for the position.
He also debunked claims that the Vice Presidential candidate selection committee, voted in the choice of the party’s candidate.