Why Atiku Should Choose Okowa as Running Mate

Okowa stands tall among all those scheming to be vice-presidential candidate, reckons Ifeanyi Maduako

Former Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has for the second time, emerged as the Presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Atiku polled 371 Votes from the 767 delegates to beat his closest rival, Governor Nyesom Wike, of Rivers State who scored 231 votes.

Atiku garnered about 48 per cent of the total votes cast during the election just like he did in the 2018 presidential primary election in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. Former Senate President Bukola Saraki came in third position as usual. Just like he did in the last presidential primary election.

Except for 1999, Atiku had been indicating interest to be the president of Nigeria since 1992 when he contested for the ticket of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) with the likes of late Chief MKO Abiola, Alhaji  Babagana Kingibe, etc.

Therefore, this perhaps would be Atiku’s seventh attempt at the presidency of Nigeria. Atiku could be qualified to be said as harboring a life-long ambition to rule or preside over the affairs of Nigeria having made several attempts at the position unlike Chief Bola Ahmed Tinubu who’s making a first attempt at the presidency but claims that he has a life-long ambition for the position. Whether Atiku will achieve his life-long ambition just like incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari who made three previous unsuccessful attempts and became successful at the fourth attempt in 2015, is in the hands of God Almighty.

PDP, as a political party had produced three presidents viz; Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan. With the death of Yar’Adua, the other two living Presidents seem not to be interested in the affairs of the party, and that makes Atiku the biggest cock that crows in the party.

As a former vice president, it was not really surprising that Atiku had been defeating sitting governors on the platform of the party who always challenged him for the presidential ticket of the party, at least on two consecutive occasions. Atiku made a very powerful impression in the 2019 presidential election by polling about 12 million votes. Incumbent President Buhari struggled to snatch victory from Atiku and the PDP in the 2019 presidential election despite his touted popularity with the Talakawas, especially in the North.

The strong performance of Atiku in 2019 was largely made possible by his choice of running mate at the time who happened to be Mr Peter Obi. This argument cannot be ignored because Atiku had contested elections in the past with another Igbo man without recording an impressive score card.

The coming presidential election may be Atiku’s finest chance to realize his presidential ambition because, apart from President Buhari, Atiku is the most popular politician from the North. President Buhari will not be on the ballot paper for the 2023 presidential race having exhausted his constitutionally guaranteed two terms as Nigeria’s president.

Atiku may have made a mistake in supporting Buhari in 2015 against a southern president forgetting that Buhari had a Constitutional right of two terms in office which he has definitely exploited. Perhaps if Atiku had cooperated and supported President Jonathan to finish his remaining one term, Atiku could have been the Nigerian President since 2019. He would be contesting for his second term against, hoping to be a president in 2023.  Well, God knows the best.

Peter Obi having resigned his membership of the PDP leaves Atiku with no choice but to source for competent running mates from the South, especially the South East, and the South-South. The South West is out of the question because the region had produced a president for eight years and a current Vice President for another eight years.

The incumbent governor of Delta State Senator (Dr) Ifeanyi Okowa should be the best choice for Atiku as running mate. Dr Okowa is Igbo from Delta State. He’s a former Commissioner, Secretary to State Government, Senator and now an out-going governor having served for two terms. He has seen it all in politics.

Okowa is humility personified. He’s God-fearing. The 2018 presidential convention that Okowa superintendent over with much larger delegates than the 2022 convention remains the most peaceful, transparent and orderly. Okowa has a visage of humility which reflects in the manner of his relationship with his seniors, equals and subordinates. Okowa has been a staunch PDP since 1998 without any single defection. The entire five states in the South East will accept him as Atiku’s running mate because he’s Igbo man to the core just like other Igbos.  Okowa has South-South acceptance, having come from there. Atiku does not need a garrulous or loquacious running mate who will turn a disaster as the Vice President of Nigeria.

A vice president of Nigeria should not be anyone driven by inordinate ambition to be the president of Nigeria.  Ekwueme, Atiku, Jonathan, Sambo and Osinbajo were all picked as running mates because of their humility, otherwise Obasanjo could have picked late Abubakar Rimi instead of Atiku. Yar’Adua wouldn’t have picked Jonathan as his running mate if the latter was the haughty, boastful and garrulous type. The same applies to former Vice President Namadi Sambo and the current one. Okowa stands tall among all those scheming to be Atiku’s running mate.

●Maduako writes from Owerri via ifeanyimaduako2017@gmail.com

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