Delta Governor and Vice-Presidential Candidate of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Sen. (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, is not a dictator as alleged by Pa Edwin Clark, the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr Olisa Ifeajika, has said.
Ifeajika who was speaking on a Delta Broadcasting Service (DBS) TV programme, ‘The Faculty’ monitored on Monday in Asaba, said contrary to the allegation contained in Pa Clark’s open letter, Okowa had remained a seasoned democrat.
He maintained that the governor had consistently maintained and upheld democratic principles and values, reiterating that Okowa had never displayed any trait of dictatorial tendency.
According to him, Commissioners come into the state Executive Council (Exco) meeting with memos and they all debate issues, and democratic principles are upheld in Okowa’s government at all times.
“Okowa is a member of the PDP, and the PDP has a chairman in the state, who is number one party man. But, because the governor is the leader of the party, he works hand-in-hand with the chairman of the party.
“One classical example is the primaries that brought in the governorship flag-bearer in the state. Delegates came to the stadium and voted and everyone saw it.
“In some states, the candidates were hand picked against the wish of the people but that didn’t happen here. It showed how PDP is running the state.
“Okowa is not that kind of man that would put himself on you. Even before he became governor, he has always been one man who believes in fair play,” the CPS added.
On Pa Clark’s allegation that Okowa was a betrayer, Ifeajika deflated the allegation, maintaining that the governor did not in anyway betray anybody.
“Our daddy, Chief E. K. Clark, is a respected father whose opinions are ‘sacred’ that people not just listen to but also go with them.
“And, I also know that before our father left partisan politics, he was always a PDP man and he understands the dictum in politics that says ‘Party is Supreme’.
“We all know the story that at the Asaba meeting, the Southern Governors came together and expressed their wish for a southern president in 2023. It was a wish as far as I am concern.
“Apart from the President coming from the South, they also talked about the southern states going to legislate on the issue of open gracing and the herdsmen menace.
“After all of the talks, they all returned to their different political parties. When they got to PDP, the party said that as an opposition, we cannot go with zoning in order to avoid throwing up a mediocre who they cannot take to the battle.
“The PDP set up a committee to advise it on the zoning issues and the committee headed by the Governor of Benue State, Mr Samuel Ortom, advised the party that it should not zone the presidential ticket on the grounds that PDP is in opposition and needed to open the space for the best to emerge.
“The report of the committee was also submitted to the NEC of the party. They all listened to the report and no one objected to it. So, a primary election was conducted and Atiku Abubakar emerged.
“We did not hear anywhere or from anybody that disagreed with the decision of the party at any point, from the committee level to the NEC meeting and finally, to the primary election.
“After the primaries, it was time for Atiku to pick a running mate. Three persons were picked at last – our own governor, Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa, Udom Emmanuel of Akwa-Ibom and Nyesom Wike of Rivers – all governors from the South-South.
“There were no objections whatsoever from anybody. No voice anywhere said of the three of you lined up, nobody, none of you should take the position.
“So, at the end, based on the parameter that Atiku himself reeled out, he told Nigerians what he wanted in who should be his vice president. He told Nigerians that he saw all the qualities in Okowa, and Okowa eventually emerged.
“We saw how after that, some persons wanted to pull down the roof and tear the umbrella because they didn’t get it. So, how can somebody now begin to say that Okowa betrayed, from this story I have told?
“Okowa was never alone in the race from the point they were selected. So, it could have been any of them. None of the three persons selected said he would refuse to be Vice Presidential candidate.
“We will continue to respect our daddy, E K Clark. Let us make this clear that the part PDP has chosen is a PDP matter. We also know that our respected daddy came out and endorsed a presidential candidate, Peter Obi. He is entitled to it and that is why it is democracy.
“So, the idea of lampooning PDP over the choices it has made does not arise. The truth therefore, is that Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa did not betray anybody,” the CPS said.
On DESOPADEC, he said, as an institution, the commission often sent its budget to the House of Assembly, different from the state government’s budget, pointing out that it putting the budget together, DESOPADEC was always mindful of its 50 per cent statutory entitlement from the 13 per cent Derivation Fund.
He noted that the House of Assembly had a Committee on DESOPADEC which performed oversight function on the commission, affirming that if there was any issue with funding, the Commission would have brought it to the floor of the House.
“If you say that DESOPADEC is not doing enough with the funds allocated to it, it is a different thing. But to say that the 50 per cent does not go to them, I don’t think so,” Ifeajika stated.
While saying that the Okowa-led administration had created a peaceful ambience in the state through its various policies and programmes, the CPS lauded the Deputy Governor of this state, Mr Kingsley Otuaro, for his wonderful roles in the area of security, emphasising that the deputy governor went all over the coastal areas to ensure that peace returned.