In a statement dated June 17, 2022, the Southern and Middle Belt Leaders’ Forum (SMBLF) condemned Governor Okowa of Delta State’s nomination as the running mate of PDP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar in the upcoming 2023 general election.
In a joint statement signed by elder statesman Chief Edwin Clark, leaders of Afenifere and Ohanaze Ndigbo World Wide as well as Pogu Bitrus, President-General of Middle Belt Forum, tackled Senator Arthur Okowa for accepting to serve as running mate to Atiku.
The elder statemen refer to the decision of Okowa as betrayal, citing his involvement in moves to ensure that a southern governor emerge in 2023 as he is currently serving as the chairman of the south-south forum, they wrote, the statement read in part, “It is unspeakable and quite disappointing that Governor Ifeanyi Okowa, who is currently Chairman of the South-South Governors’ Forum, and a native of Owa-Alero in Ika North-East Local Government Area (one of the Igbo-speaking areas) of Delta State, would exhibit such barefaced unreliability”
The group unanimously tag Okowa as a betrayal, for going against the decision of the 17 southern governors who decided to only accept to zone the presidency to the southern part of the country, the statement added that ” It bears recalling that the 17 Governors of the Southern States of Nigeria, both of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), under the Chairmanship of the Governor of Ondo State, Rotimi Akeredolu, SAN, met in Asaba, the capital of Delta State on May 11, 2021, and took far-reaching decisions, including that, based on the principles of fairness, equity and justice, the presidency should rotate to the south, at the end of the statutory eight years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure. And this very Governor Okowa was the host of that historic meeting.”