Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, the governor of Delta State, has been chastised by the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) for accepting Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s nomination as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate in the upcoming 2023 general elections.
According to the group, Governor Okowa, who is currently the chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum and a native of Owa-Alero in Delta State’s Ika North-East local government area (one of the Igbo-speaking areas), displaying such blatant unreliability is unspeakable and quite disappointing.
It will be recalled that on May 11, 2021, the 17 governors of Nigeria’s southern states, both of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), convened in Asaba, Delta State’s capital, under the chairmanship of Rotimi Akeredolu, governor of Ondo State, and made far-reaching decisions, including that the presidency should rotate to the South at the end of the statutory eight-year term.
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Governor Okowa was the host of that historic meeting, according to a statement signed by SMBLF leaders Chief Ayo Adebanjo for the South West, Chief Edwin Clark for the South South, Dr. Dru Bitrus, the General Secretary (Middle Belt), and Ambassador(Prof) George Obiozor for the South East.
The southern governors met again in Lagos on July 5 to reaffirm their decision, and again in Enugu on September 16 to restate the call for the presidency to rotate to the south in 2023, according to the report.
“We followed up and issued a similar statement after our meeting in Abuja on the 30th of May 2021, asking that the presidency should rotate to the south,” SMBLF said, praising the governors’ meeting because of its significant representation and the gravity of the outcome. And went on to warn political stakeholders from the South, including current and former governors, ministers, senators, and others, “not to allow themselves to be appointed or nominated as running mates to any presidential candidate if the presidency is not zoned to the south, and that we will work against such person or persons,” according to the statement.