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‘Party’s decision is supreme,’ Okowa reacts to criticism on nomination as Atiku’s running mate

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The Delta State Governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, on Friday responded to allegations of betrayal by the leaders of Southern and Middle Belt (SMBLF) for accepting to run on a joint ticket with the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar.

The governor was picked by the former vice president as his running mate for the 2023 elections on Thursday.

However, in a statement jointly signed by Chief Edwin Clark Pan Niger Delta Forum), Chief Ayo Adebanjo (Afenifere), Dr. Pogu Bitrus, (Middle Belt Forum) and Prof. George Obiozor (Ohaneze Ndigbo), the group said it was wrong for Okowa to accept the nomination to be Atiku’s running mate since he was at the forefront of agitation for a southern president.

The Southern Governors’ Forum met thrice last year and demanded a power shift to the region after the completion of President Muhammadu Buhari’s eight-year rule in 2023.

The governor, who featured in an Arise TV interview programme on Friday, insisted that the party’s decision superseded other considerations.

READ ALSO: SMBLF fumes, says Okowa wrong to accept offer of running mate to Atiku

He said: “I believe our leaders have their opinion and won’t join issues with them. I was part of the decisions of the party and we agreed that the best way was to throw the presidential race open and I was mandated to abide by that rule.

“And since Atiku emerged, the onus was on us to support him since he can’t choose a Vice President from the North which is why we took the decision to zone it to the South. I had to submit myself to the decisions of the party and our leaders have to respect that collective decision by the party.

“I want to appeal to them to tackle the issues as it is in order to rebuild confidence in Nigerians while being cautious of the statements being made. The unity of the country is important.”

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