The leadership of the apex Ijaw Youth group, Ijaw Youths Council (IYC) Worldwide, has said that the choice of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as the running mate to Alhaji Atiku Abubakar is strategy for the people of the Niger Delta.
The group appealed to aggrieved Niger Delta stakeholders to withdraw their criticisms of Okowa’s 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, and sent to bioreports on Tuesday by its President, Peter Timothy Igbifa, said instead of pulling Okowa down, all stakeholders should rally round, close their ranks and support him.
He said: “The only best political position available for us in the Niger Delta now is the running mate and Okowa has been selected to represent the region, which could have been any other. If Okowa’s PDP wins, the Niger Delta will have the opportunity of occupying the position of the Vice-President again.
“The South already has two Presidential candidates from other political parties, but doesn’t have any other position bigger and better than a running mate in the Peoples Democratic Party( PDP). This region’s interest is paramount.
“Pulling Okowa down amounts to rejecting the only opportunity that is available in that political party for the region, especially as the PDP is the biggest Party in the region with huge followers.
“Therefore, the region should unite and queue behind him.”
Igbifa advised Okowa to embark on fence-mending to bring all stakeholders, including his colleagues in the region on board in all his decisions and consultations ahead of the general elections.
“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”.