PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar picks South-South’s Gov Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa, as his 2023 elections running mate.

Okowa (62), current Governor of Delta State, reportedly beat his counterparts from Rivers and Akwa Ibom States to the consideration.

He quickly accepted the selection “wholeheartedly” and promised to fight the battle alongside the Adamawa politician.

Okowa described his choice as a “rare privilege” and offered effusive praise to Atiku and the party leaders.

Atiku picks Gov Okowa

“I pledge to join hands with …Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, leaders and stakeholders of our party, …to rescue our country from the precipice” he posted on Twitter.

Why Okowa won

The candidate did not indicate why he decided on a South-south running mate, given the clamour from the Southeast.

Enugu Metro learnt that three South-South governors made it to the final shortlist. They include eventual nominee Okowa, Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike and his Akwa ibom peer, Udom Emmanuel.

Governor Okowa, a medical doctor, served one term as a Senator before returning to rule his home State in 2015. He therefore combines administrative and legislative experiences on the job.

Okowa however won because of his less controversial image and because PDP wanted someone with an Igbo connection, said a source.

The Igbo connection knocked out Wike, who finished second behind Atiku at the 28 May 2022 Abuja PDP convention.

Although he is Ikwerre, Gov Wike offends Igbos by loudly proclaiming at every turn that he is not of their ethnic stock.

Okowa is a strategic choice for PDP to remain preponderant in both Southeast and South-South, our source said.

Closure for Southeast

However, Okowa’s choice offers a closure to the Southeast battle to secure a top position in any of the two dominant parties – PDP or APC.

The Igbo were hitherto torn between asking for a candidate from the field of Igbo aspirants and those specifically from Southeast region.

Unfortunately, those from the region failed spectacularly at the primaries of the dominant parties – the APC and PDP.

The APC candidate, Bola AhmedTinubu, is currently shopping for a running mate in the deep north.

PDP governors scrambling to secure influential positions in the incoming federal government are responsible for the Southeast loss, our source said.

PDP governors worked hard to see one of their number make it to the Number Two slot, said the source.

He pointed out that, additionally, most of the PDP governors have secured party tickets to go to the Senate.

“They hope to carry their trade union antics to the Senate to influence Atiku if he wins,” the party stalwart told Enugu Metro.

Atiku picks Gov Okowa as running mate