By Idowu Abdullahi
The presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, Atiku Abubakar, has explained why he settled for the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, as his running mate.
He said part of the criteria he considered was Okowa’s rich experience and political trajectory which positioned him well to become president after his (Atiku’s) tenure.
Atiku stated this in his remarks at the unveiling of Okowa as his running mate at the PDP National Headquarters, Wadata Plaza, Wuse Abuja, on Thursday.
“In arriving at the decision, I held wide consultations with various stakeholders in our party including our 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 said.
He added, “In other words, the person must 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, 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.”
The former Vice President said it was a difficult decision for him to arrive at the choice of Okowa as all those shortlisted for the role “are all dedicated party-men suitable for this task”.
“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 experience. 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.”