Dr Doyin Okupe, a former aide to President Goodluck Jonathan has withdrawn from the 2023 presidential race.
Okupe also announced that he would now support the candidacy of former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate addressed a press conference at the NUJ Secretariat, Iwe Iroyin, Abeokuta, Ogun State, on Wednesday, saying it would be wrong for the PDP to jettison zoning.
He said he has abandoned his ambition and conceded the same to the South East in the spirit of fairness and equity, even though “I was the first to declare for the presidency in Nigeria.”
According to him, the leader of the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere, Ayo Adebanjo, had in a meeting told him that the next president must come from the South East, saying he had gone beyond Afenifere to pick Peter Obi, whom he considered as a right peg in a right hole.
Okupe said it was clear to him that those at the PDP helm of affairs “are trying to hoodwink those of us aspirants from the South to commit ourselves to obtain the requisite forms before coming up with the original position that ‘every zone can contest the presidency.”
This position, he declared, “is politically fraudulent, unjust and inequitable.”
As a politician, Okupe maintained that he would forge ahead with his “unrepentant call for a rotation of power to the South.”
“I turned 70 years a few days ago, and I have made a covenant with my maker that for the rest of my life, I shall uphold this spirit and principles of our forebears as manifestly displayed and represented in our collective socio-political heritage – THE AFENIFERE.
“Two weeks ago, Pa Ayo Adebanjo called me for the first time into his bedroom and admonished me that no matter what circumstances we Yorubas find ourselves in the ever gyrating political circus of Nigeria, I must uphold the truth and follow the path of equity and justice.
“In aligning myself with the wish of our elders and in the interest of equity and justice, I publicly admit that the 2023 political race must be conceded to the South-East; that is, the Igbos.
“I, therefore, here and now proclaim that I am, as I have said publicly several times, withdrawing from the presidential race and I am declaring my support for the best aspirant not only in Igboland but in Nigeria as a whole.
“I and my supporters within and outside the PDP are teaming up with His Excellency, Peter Obi.
“At the same time, I want to enjoin all other aspirants from the South; Chief Dele Momodu, Senator Anyim, and His Excellency, Governor Nyesom Wike to come with me and let us team up with Peter Obi. So we can give the South the best possible chance.
“For the avoidance of doubt, I am not fanning the embers of division, rather I am by this action lightening the torch of unity by establishing political stability on the pillars of truth and justice upon which the Bible tells us that even the throne of the Almighty God is founded,” Okupe submitted.