Immediate past Governor of Delta State, Senator Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, on Thursday, reiterated that he didn’t betray Southern presidency by accepting to be Alhaji Atiku Abubakar’s running mate.
He said his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) agreed to throw its ticket open because it was in the opposition to enable the party present a formidable candidate that could match the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate.
Okowa who spoke through his Media Adviser, Mr. Olisa Ifeajika at a news conference in Asaba, said once a Northerner emerged as the party’s candidate at a very transparent presidential primary election, he was duty bound by law to pick his running mate from the South.
Okowa who was responding to allegations raised by elder statesman, Chief Edwin Clark during an interview on Arise Television on Wednesday, said as a member of a political party, he was duty bound to adhere to the party’s decisions.
“First let me put it on record that Senator Okowa has immense respect for Chief Edwin Clark, our revered father, elder statesman, respected Deltan and a very loud voice in the country.
“So, whatever he says is important but we are worried that the issues that have been addressed over and over are still being revisited by our father, Chief Clark.
“Because it is coming from him, otherwise we would have said let it slide but we have to respond to him because of who he is,” he added.
On accusations of borrowing N150bn and diverting state government monies to fund Atiku Abubakar’s presidential campaign, Okowa said the allegations were spurious and unfounded, adding that all financial records during his tenure were transparent and accountable.
He said all funds that accrued to the state were deployed to develop the state with numerous projects and human capital development across the state.
“You are all aware of the N150bn loan as they called it and we have for the umpteenth time said that money is not a loan but a bridging finance and it remained so.
“It took the ingenuity of Commissioners for Finance in Oil producing states in the Niger Delta led by our own former Commissioner for Finance, Chief Fidelis Tilije to unearth the discrepancies.
“What was owed Delta was N240bn which the Federal Government agreed to pay on four quarterly instalment for 5years.
“We are aware that some states including Rivers, discounted and collected all their monies and started spending but because Okowa believes in rule of law, due process and diligence, he went to the House of Assembly to get approval to use part of the funds for some critical projects from the quarterly instalmental refunds.
“At a media briefing shortly before he left office, Okowa told the press that only N91bn was accessed from the N100bn bridging finance request. It is therefore, erroneous to assume that Okowa collected N150bn loan,” Ifeajika said.
On the allegations of owning a bank, Ifeajika said Okowa is known to be a medical doctor and politician and not a banker or business man, adding that no member of his family have any link with the bank.
“Okowa had earlier told the world that he has no personal business with the bank and no member of his family has any link with the bank.
“That a certain Okowa is a staff member of the Bank is his right to work in any bank and not because the bank is owned by Okowa’s family. The man started his banking career years ago in some other banks before going to Zenith Bank and now Premium Trust Bank.
“We would have thought that for a father that Pa E.K. Clark is, his role should be to build, to support those in authority at all times to build and do well, that should be the role of elder statesman.
“He should not wait at the end of their tenures because it has now become a norm that all the previous governors that ruled the state, while they will be in office they will be friends but when they leave our father will begin to pull them down and begin to say things that are not too right about his children that he saw into office.
“For us, it is unsavoury and not salutary. Okowa has been acknowledged roundly as having performed superlatively, Okowa braved the odds, broke the jinx and developed the oil producing creeks and communities in the state and the projects are there speaking for themselves.
“It is on record that Okowa empowered no fewer than 30,000 youths and took them off the street to become entrepreneurs and job creators.
“Delta State Government led the pack in youth empowerment and Delta under Okowa was number one in youth development; instead of lampooning and taking swipe at Okowa, he should be commended for taking Delta to greater heights,” he added.
On funds accruing to DESOPADEC, Ifeajika said the interventionist agency prepares its own budget every year outside the budget of the state.
The money that accrued to the state was used to develop the state and the records are there; Okowa has played his role, done his bit and has performed to the best of his abilities and should be left alone to enjoy his rest,” Ifeajika stated.
GOVT. HOUSE, ASABA