The outgoing governor of Delta state, Ifeanyi Okowa, has defended himself over the accusations of betrayal levelled against him as it concerns the southern presidency agenda.
In a candid conversation with journalists, Governor Ifeanyi Okowa addressed the accusations of betrayal comprehensively.
He clarified that he had never agreed to the plans for a southern presidency, challenging the notion that he had deviated from the aspirations of the region.
Okowa emphasized that zoning was not the primary agenda during the Asaba meeting but merely mentioned as an afterthought.
He said, “I don’t think there was any betrayal, people give the wrong communication. In the first instance, the meeting we held in Asaba never talked about the issue of a southern president. The meeting we held in Asaba was to discuss the issue concerning herdsmen and the need to find a stop to it,” he said.
“It was actually the meeting in Lagos… but people just misconstrue the two. It was in a follow-up meeting in Lagos that the issue came up and it was not actually part of our agenda but we did not know people had their own views; you know politics was coming.
“When we had finished, under ‘any other business’, the matter was thrown up and we just found that a lot of us were ambushed but a majority actually had their way.
“I don’t want to relate it to partisan politics now because some people in the PDP had supported it(southern presidency) and then the issue came out and it was introduced first by the governor of Ondo state, and supported by the then-governor of Ekiti state, and then it followed through and then one or two PDP people also made their comments.
“But for us, we could see that that matter had been discussed before — and it is part of politics so we let it go.”
In the build-up to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) primary in May 2022, some stakeholders demanded that the presidential ticket be zoned to the south.
However, the party ditched zoning, throwing the contest for the presidential ticket open.
The move elicited heated criticism, with Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, saying the decision was in “clear violation of the party’s constitution”.
The attendant squabble led Wike and the governors of Benue, Abia, Oyo, and Enugu states to form a group called the ‘G5’.
Members of the group are believed to have worked against the success of Atiku Abubakar, PDP presidential candidate, in their election.
The Delta state governor, who was the vice-presidential candidate of the PDP, has been repeatedly accused of betraying the south.
The accusations partly stemmed from the reported resolution of the southern governors — from PDP and the All Progressives Congress (APC) — after a meeting in Asaba, Delta state capital.
The governors were said to have mutually agreed on a southern president succeeding President Muhammadu Buhari.
Their agreement was dubbed the ‘Asaba Accord’.