Governor Rochas Okorocha spoke to the press on the occasion of the 7th convocation ceremony of the Adekunle Ajasin University Akungba-Akoko in Ondo state last weekend.
Speaking on national issues after his conferment with a Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, the governor of Imo state talked about issues bothering his party the APC.
Here are 4 takeaways from his statements:
Tinubu Cannot Speak for Governors
Rochas Okorocha took strong exception to a statement credited to the APC National Leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. Interestingly Tinubu also made that statement when he visited Ondo state recently. The party leader had rubbished Governor Okorocha’s endorsement of President Buhari for a second term in 2019, saying “no governor can appropriate the power of endorsement to themselves,” and then adding that an individual’s opinions “does not matter at this stage”.
Okorocha noted that his comment was made on behalf of the state Governors and challenged the national leader’s rights to speak on behalf of the group.
“The statement credited to our National Leader came to me as a surprise. Come to think of it, I never referred to him. I referred to the governors of Nigeria including the PDP, and I said only one or two of them have not joined yet.
“Since I made the statement, no governor has said something contrary to what I said. I am surprised that Asiwaju will now be speaking for the governors. He looks like somebody crying more than the bereaved. I did not see reason for the statement actually. But he commands my respect and I don’t want to join issues with the National Leader of my party.
“What I mentioned was for the governors. And secondly, what I said was support. The word I used was support and that does not mean there will not be primaries. Governors can only contribute only 37 votes. We still have over 5,000 votes up there. What I was talking about was governors. I was not talking about other party members. Governors alone do not determine the flag-bearer of a party.”
Rochas is running for President in 2023
Okorocha, a former presidential candidate himself under the Action Alliance and aspirant under the PDP and ANPP has never hidden his ambitions to govern Nigeria. In this latest comment he said he hints at a 2023 bid which might be somewhat hinged on his support for a Buhari second term.
“If you recall, I said but for Buhari, I would have run for presidency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. But I found in him a man credible and he still has four years term to do. I will allow him to complete and I will go back to my political trenches because I would still run for presidency anyhow.
“I consider myself young enough to wait until 2023 and I don’t hide my stand on any issue. But for now, my support goes to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Atiku will be replaced
Governor Okorocha feels Atiku’s defection to the PDP could have been avoided but clearly stated that the former Vice-President is replaceable.
“I have taken holistic view of our party. It is not the best because no matter how anybody thinks, Atiku carries some political weight. His leaving our party is not the best.
“But all said and done, since he has forged ahead by going to another political party, we will make amends and his place will be filled up accordingly.”
Buhari will win in 2019
Okorocha does not think the PDP is organized enough to defeat President Buhari.
“There is nothing to be jittery about the outcome of the PDP’s convention. We are very confident that our presidential candidate to be, President Muhammadu Buhari, is up to the task.
“He has impeccable track record that it would take an unusual presidential candidate of a rival political party to match him. This is the strength of our party couple with the fact that APC governors are performing, we are sure we will deliver 2019”.