Contrary to widely held belief that Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike has been selected as running mate to the presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Atiku Abubakar, the candidate Thursday afternoon announced Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, the preferred vice presidential candidate.
Atiku made the announcement in his remark while introducing his running mate, at the PDP National Headquarters, Wadata Plaza, Abuja.
He said “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.”
The decision, he said is a difficult one, but he said “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.”
In picking his running mate, he said certain qualities expected of a vice presidential candidate were considered.
Atiku said ” my running mate must also not only symbolise 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.
“In the United States of America from where we borrowed key aspects of our current Presidential system, 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. Nigerians will not accept anything less. 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.
“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 globalised 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 presidential candidate gave an insight into a future political assignment for Okowa. He said ” my running mate would have the potential to succeed me at a moment’s notice, that is, a President-in-waiting.
“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; understands the critical importance of economic growth and development to provide our young people with jobs, hope, and a pathway to wealth.”
Atiku appreciated the party leadership for their contributions to the process leading to his choice of Okowa.
“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 inputs and their wisdom,” he said.