Atiku Abubakar, the presidential candidate of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, said the national honour of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), on the Governor of Delta State, Ifeanyi Okowa on Tuesday was another evidence that he was right to pick him as his running mate.
Atiku said this in a short message he posted on his Facebook page, congratulating the Delta state governor on his national honour.
He said, “Today’s conferment of the National Honour on Governor Ifeanyi A. Okowa by President Muhammadu Buhari is a testimonial that I made the right decision in tapping an achiever as my Vice Presidential candidate for the 2023 election. On behalf of my family, our team and our supporters, I say congratulations! -AA”
Okowa was one of the over 400 people conferred with the national honour on Tuesday by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Atiku was criticised by some members of the PDP for choosing Okowa over Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State who came second to him at the presidential primary of the PDP.
The neglect of Wike for Okowa was believed to be one of the factors responsible for the current crises in the presidential campaign of the PDP. Wike, four governors and some chieftains of the party boycotted the kickoff of Atiku/Okowa presidential campaign in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State last Monday.
Aside from the anger over his choice of Okowa, members of the Wike camp of the PDP are also demanding the resignation of Iyorchia Ayu as the party’s national chairman- a request that Atiku and others in his camp have not supported.
Meanwhile, in his remarks shortly after the ceremony, Okowa said that the Award was for Nigerians who had contributed to nation-building.
He expressed gratitude to President Buhari and the National Honours Awards Committee for the investiture and congratulated other Deltans and Nigerians on their well-deserved honours.
Okowa pledged to continue his contribution to nation-building to make Nigeria realise its full potential.
“I thank President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Honours Awards Committee for my investiture as a Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON), in recognition of my contributions to the development of the nation.
“I congratulate all Nigerians and distinguished Deltans who were also honoured with the various categories of National Awards.
“This award makes me realise that I have contributed my bit and I hope it will spur me to think more about the growth and development of this country.
“I hope that together in commitment to this nation we will all continue to work with our people across Nigeria to find the growth path that can take us to Nigeria of our dream.
“I must say that I am humbled by this recognition and pledge to continue to play my role to make Nigeria a better nation that lives up to its full potential,” he stated.
Okowa also affirmed that the award would spur him to do more for Delta in the years ahead, adding that the “award is a call to duty for me and I thank God that i have the opportunity of being the Vice-Presidential Candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party.
“We are working very hard and we expect that Nigerians will be in a position to truly realise that the PDP team is the best team at this very critical time in the development of our nation.
“By the grace of God, upon victory in 2023, I will work with the President, Atiku Abubakar and other stakeholders of this nation to find solutions to the current challenges that we have in our nation.
“There is no doubt that the challenges are truly numerous and frightening in terms of disunity, insecurity and economic downturn which is affecting human capital development.
“I believe that when God, through the elections helps us come to power that we will work with all sections of this country to begin to restore hope and to rebuild the cracked foundations of this country,” he stated.
Other Deltans who were also honored are: Deputy President of the Senate, Ovie Omo-Agege, Director-General of World Trade Organisation (WTO), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, were among illustrious Deltans honoured at the National Honours Award Investiture for 2022.
Also honoured are Olu of Warri, Ogiame Atuwatse III; Dein of Agbor, Dr Benjamin Ikenchukwu, Kiagborekuzi I; Ovie of Agbon Kingdom, Ogurimerime Ukori I; Chief of Defence Staff, Gen. Lucky Irabor; Chairman, Zenith Bank, Mr Jim Ovia and Chairman, UBA, Mr Tony Elumelu.
Others are Chairman, ThisDay and Arise, Group, Prince Nduka Obaigbena; Minority Leader, House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Ndudi Elumelu; Chairman, RainOil, Mr Gabriel Ogbechie and Kenneth Gbagi.
They also include Professor Itse Sagay, Julius Dediare Rone, AVM Charles Owho, Professor Emmanuel Nwanze, Elton Edorhe, Deputy Managing Director, Access Bank Plc, Mr Victor Etuokwu and Mr Dike Chigbue.
On her part, the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said no award could be more gratifying than one from one’s country and lauded President Buhari for the honour.
She said the honour was a call to do more in her endeavours and expressed satisfaction with Governor Okowa’s human capital and infrastructural transformation in Delta in the last seven years.
She urged him to do more in the remaining months of his administration.