The Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has appealed to aggrieved Niger Delta stakeholders to thread softly in their criticisms of the Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, following his emergence as the running mate to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Candidate, Atiku Abubakar.
The IYC in a statement signed in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Monday by its President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said instead of pulling Okowa down, all stakeholders should rally round, close their ranks and support him.
Igbifa reasoned that Okowa’s current political status remained the only strategic and major position available to the Niger Delta in the entire arrangements for the 2023 general election.
He said: “The only best political position available for us in the Niger Delta now is the ruñning mate and Okowa has been selected to represent the region. If Okowa’s PDP wins, the Niger Delta will have the opportunity of occupying the position of the Vice-President again.
“The South already have two Presidential candidates from other political parties but doesn’t have any other position bigger and better than a running mate in the People Democratic Party.
Pulling Okowa down amounts to rejecting the only opportunity that is available in that political party for the region
Therefore, the region should unite and queue behind him to enable them approach the elections, as either way the pendulum swings south is still represented.
Igbifa congratulated the Delta governor on his emergence as Atiku’s running mate and pledged the support of the council for his aspirations.
He advised Okowa to embark on fence mending to bring all stakeholders including his colleagues in the region on board and carry them along in all his decisions and consultations ahead of the general elections.
“We appeal to elder statesmen to shield their swords and drop their public criticisms of Okowa. We urge them to forgo their misgivings and support the governor in the overall political interest of the Niger Delta”, he said.
Igbifa said it was unfair to accuse Okowa of betraying the region since his emergence as a running mate was purely the decision of his political party.
He said: “Okowa did not make himself a running mate. The PDP and the presidential candidate, Atiku, chose him. The decision of the party is always supreme and it behooves on the Delta State Governor to accept it.
“Besides, it is the prerogative of the candidate to select his running mate and since he has chosen Okowa, the only thing expected of all stakeholders is to support him.
“It is high time the Niger Delta stopped the pulldown syndrome. They should emulate their northern counterparts, who despite unfavourable political decisions support their own.