The South Renaissance Movement (SRM), has absolved the Delta State governor, Ifeanyi Okowa, of any blame over alleged betrayal of Southern Nigeria, following his emergence as the running mate to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, in the 2023 elections.
The group maintained that the outburst by the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) was unwarranted, insisting that Okowa’s nomination as Atiku’s running mate didn’t truncate the presidential aspiration of the Southern part of the country.
The group added that the war-like posture of SMBLF contravened the spirit of a united Nigeria.
National coordinator of the Movement, Hon. Emmanuel Sorokwu, said the position of the leaders was most unfortunate, given their pedigree as elder statesmen.
The SMBLF had in a statement signed by Chief Edwin Clark, who is also the leader of Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF); Chief Ayo Adebanjo, leader of Afenifere; Dr. Dru Bitrus, President-General, Middle Belt Forum, and Ambassador (Prof.) George Obiozor, President-General, Ohanaeze Ndigbo Worldwide, accused Okowa of betraying the South by accepting the VP candidate slot.
But, SRM accused the leaders of fanning the embers of disunity, noting that their position was akin to asking the South to boycott the 2023 elections because the presidency was not ceded to the zone.
The statement said, “Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is a known loyal party man and will always submit to the dictates of the party. Since the winner of the PDP presidential ticket is from North, obviously the running mate will come from the South. Moreso, both the South-East and North-East have not had a shot at the Presidency, so North-East having it, will mean hope for the South-East.”
Sorokwu, a renowned banker and former chairman of Aniocha local government area, spoke with selected journalists in Abuja.
He said, “as a group, we have very high regards for these elder statesmen but we need to keep the records straight, we want to make it clear that the Delta State Governor didn’t commit any crime or betrayed the political aspiration of the South as insinuated by . Okowa instead was one of the people that worked for power to shift to the South, but howbeit, he does not believe that politics or issue of power shift must be a do or die affair.
“We appeal to them to see the emergence of Governor Ifeanyi Okowa as a call to service of our fatherland. We crave their support as fathers and not antagonism. We all need power shift to the South but we most go about it democratically.
“We enjoin Nigerians to disregard insinuations that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa is working against the interest of the Sourh. The governor is a fine gentleman that won’t betray any agreement for whatever reason.”
Meanwhile the group congratulated the Delta governor for his emergence, describing his choice as a “round peg in a round hole”.