Editor's note: Journalist and public commentator, Femi Owolabi, writes on the key role played by the chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) special national convention committee and governor of Delta state, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa at the just concluded exercise adjudged to be one of the best witnessed in the country.
Ifeanyi Okowa comes by many Nigerians as governor of Delta state, but in the past months, the doctor turned politician has shown himself to be excellent at conducting primary elections.
His recent call was during the convention of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) where over 3,000 delegates converged to elect the party’s presidential candidate. Okowa had been appointed by the party to serve as the chairman of the convention planning committee.
Prior to the convention, there were disagreements over the choice of Port Harcourt, Rivers state capital, as venue for the event. It was believed that one of the aspirants had the backing of Nyesom Wike, governor of Rivers, and some kicked, saying hosting the election in the governor’s base won’t produce a credible exercise.
Okowa, however, threw this out, assuring all concerned that the election under his supervision would be fair.
“What is needed is a free and fair primaries to be conducted for our aspirants, no matter where the venue is, we will do what his right and no one will have reason to complain,” Okowa had said.
He would add that when the process is credible, it would be a buy-in of all the aspirants who will lead the party into the election.
Indeed, in a most transparent manner, Okowa conducted the election, leaving observers with no fault to point at.
“Okowa’s insistence on a fair process seems to be the game changer,” one of the delegates told The Cable.
In May, when the primary election to pick the governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Ekiti was marred by violence, Okowa, about three days after in the state, conducted a widely adjudged free and fair contest for the PDP aspirants.
The exercise saw Okowa count over 3,000 delegates from across the local government areas, ensuring number of heads on queue tally with figures on the list.
Ayodele Fayose, governor of Ekiti state had mocked the APC, asking the ruling party to learn how to conduct primary election from Okowa, if they would succeed with their rescheduled primary.
“We will keep Okowa here till Friday to help APC, if not they will not have any candidate,” Fayose had said.
After a successful PDP convention, there have been witty calls asking that Okowa be appointed chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Okowa will be seeking reelection as governor of Delta in 2019.
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