‘I’ll Not Begrudge You’, Okowa Replies Clark, Recounts How He Emerged As Atiku’s Running Mate
Governor Ifeanyi Okowa of Delta State, has reacted to the call by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Kiagbodo Clark who asked him to step down as running mate to the People’s Democratic Party’s presidential candidate, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
BIGPEN NIGERIA (www.bigpenngr.com) had reported that Clark, in a lengthy statement had asked Okowa to resign as vice presidential candidate of the PDP over what he termed the governor’s betrayal of the people of Southern part of the country.
Clark also queried Okowa’s government debt profile and recent borrowing and called out the governor to be accountable for the funds or be prepared to face anti-graft agencies after he leaves office.
But in a spontaneous reaction, Governor Okowa who spoke through his Commissioner for Information, Charles Aniagwu, in a statement, dismissed the allegation of misuse of N250billion 13% derivation fund, saying that the Clark’s letter is not a true reflection of the state of affairs in Delta State.
The statement reads; “We have read with keen interest the open letter to Governor Ifeanyi Okowa by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark.
“First we accord him his due respect as an elder statesman and a respected father in our state, but we state categorically that his letter is not a true reflection of the state of affairs in Delta State as the massive achievements in infrastructural and human capital development recorded in the state in the last seven years are visible to all and sundry.
“On the allegation of unaccountability and dictatorship, it is on record that Governor Okowa has been very accountable to the people as he has always briefed Deltans on the state of affairs in the state. He holds quarterly media interaction with journalists in the state where issues across the state are discussed and questions asked and relevant answers provided.
“The Governor has had cause to relate with the State House of Assembly on all matters concerning the state finances at all times. How can a Governor that ensured full autonomy for the State’s legislature and the judiciary be said to be dictatorial?.
“On the allegation of misuse of N250billion 13% derivation fund, nothing can be far from the truth because the said fund is being paid in quarterly instalments and as at last record we have only received four instalments totalling N19.6billion.
“Because of the time value of money and inflationary tendencies we decided to discount N100billion. On application to the state House of Assembly, we listed some landmark projects to be completed from the fund and some of them including the Ogheye Floating Market, Koka Flyover and Interchange, Maryam Babangida Leisure Park, Film Village and Zoo, Mother and Child Specialist Hospital and Advanced Diagnostics Medical Centre have been completed, inaugurated and currently operational.
“We are also aware that our leader, Chief Clark has made his own political choice by endorsing a presidential candidate of another political party which we agree and respect as his own fundamental right, but we hold the view that it is not democratically nor constitutionally out of place for other persons to also have right to associate with others which is equally legitimate.
“We are all aware that the country is so divided and the rhetoric that tends to divide the country further along the line of North and South dichotomy cannot do the country any good hence we urge that persons of all class need not engage in divisive actions or utterances.
“As well meaning Nigerians we expect that senior citizens should promote actions that tends to unite the country and not that which would further divide us.
The Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Atiku Abubakar won the party’s primary on the account of a free and transparent votes of delegates of the party across the country.
“The constitution of our country is very clear that once a Presidential Candidate emerges, he is duty bound to chose a running mate and by tradition from the other side of the country.
“It couldn’t have been the right thing to say that we should have rejected the nomination because if we had, other persons would have also accepted it.
“We will continue to respect Chief Clark despite the recent attacks on Governor Okowa and we also put it on record that the highly respected elder statesman had supported us in the past up to 2019 and had cause to commend the Governor for his sterling accomplishments in the state.
“So we will not begrudge him because he has chosen to support someone else this time around”.