I’m not a traitor, Gov Ifeanyi Okowa says as he denies betraying the southern quest for presidency in 2023.

He however carefully avoided responding directly to the attack by sociocultural leaders of the South and Middle Belt.

“I want to respect our leaders; I always do and I believe that they have their opinions. They are well-meaning leaders so I am not going to join issues with them.

Instead, he argued that he belongs to a political party where collective decisions are made and respected by members.

“…our party agreed that the best path to rescue the nation was to throw the presidential ticket race open.

“Having agreed to that and also submitted myself to be a politician in the Peoples Democratic Party, I am ruled by the polices of the party as they are.

“And, since we have all agreed that we wanted to throw the presidential candidacy open and Atiku Abubakar emerged, the onus is for us to support him.

“We are not expecting that he would be the candidate from the North and also have a vice presidential candidate from the North. That would be leading to further division.

“We are talking about rebuilding this nation and our unity. So, to a very large extent, we have to take the right decisions.

“Having submitted myself to be a member of the PDP, I would have to submit myself to the decisions of the party and that is what has happened.

“That does not mean a disrespect to the views of those leaders. They are leaders that I respect so much. But under this condition, they have to understand that I have committed myself to the PDP.

“I am a politician. If I am not, it may be different. So, I will have to play along to the collective decisions of the party.

“I want to appeal to them that they need to actually look at the issue as it is and be very cautious about the stands that we take.

“It is important that we also realise that the unity of this nation is important and we need to move forward from whereever we are at the moment,” he said.

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I’m not a traitor, Okowa replies southern leaders