FORMER vice president Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has picked Governor Ifeanyi Okowo of Delta State as his running mate for next year’s presidential elections after declaring that he believes he s is the right person to complement him.
Earlier this month, Alhaji Abubakar won the presidential primaries of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and since then, the race to pick a running mate has been on. Announcing his choice in Abuja today, Alhaji Abubakar said his vice president must fulfil the qualities to be president and one that could complement him as a president.
He added that his running mate should symbolise the quality to unite Nigeria and be a person who is not afraid to speak and give advice on governance in the country. Alhaji Abubakar also added that his running mate must understand what he described as the depth of rot in the Nigerian system, with understanding of critical needs of economic growth.
According to Alhaji Abubakar, his running mate must be able to speak his mind freely and Governor Okowa must be ready to work with him at all times. He added that the decision of his running mate was a difficult one but he is not afraid to take such decisions.
Over the last few days, the PDP’s national working committee had shortlisted Governor Okowa, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State as potential running mates. Ho0wever, Alhaji Abubakar went for Governor Okowa born at Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area of Delta State and who attended Edo College, Benin City from 1970 to 1976.
After his secondary school education, he proceeded to the University of Ibadan where he studied Medicine and Surgery and graduated in 1981 with an MBBS degree. After his National Youth Service, Governor Okowa worked with the Bendel State Hospitals Management Board as a medical officer and entered private practice with Victory Medical Centre, Igbanke in 1986.
Governor Okowa became secretary to the Ika Local Government Area and then chairman of the Ika North East Local Government Council in 1991. He joined the PDP in 1998 and assisted in Governor James Ibori’s campaign, then serving as a commissioner on three occasions.
In the April 2011 election for the Delta North Senatorial seat, Governor Okowa won 98,140 votes to defeat his closest challenger, Prince Ned Munir Nwoko of the Democratic People’s Party, who polled 67,985 votes. He then clinched the ticket for the PDP gubernatorial election in 2015 with 406 votes in 2014 and went on to be elected governor in April 2015 with 724,680 votes and was re-elected in 2019.