Transparency and Integrity


PDP Governorship Candidate Uche Ikonne Is Dead


Abia State PDP Governorship Candidate Uche Ikonne Dies From Multiple Cardiac Arrests.

...... RECALL: "Who Are The Contenders And Pretenders Among The PDP Hawks Seeking To Replace Ikonne"? — Nduka Nwosu. 

The Abia State Peoples Democratic Party governorship candidate, Prof Uche Ikonne, is dead.

This was announced in a statement by his son, Dr Uche Ikonne, on Wednesday.

The statement read,

“I regret to announce the death of my dear father, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, who died at the National Hospital Abuja today January 25 202 by 4 am after a brief illness.

“He was recovering after taking proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago leading to multiple cardiac arrests from which he didn’t recover from.

“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made within the family”.

Nduka Nwosu asks who the contenders and pretenders are, among PDP hawks seeking to replace Uche Ikonne as Abia PDP Governorship Candidate. 

Even before the admission last week by Abia State Governor, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu that Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Governorship candidate Professor Uche Ikonne, was down with an ailment that has kept him out of public view, the news of the jostle for his replacement was already abuzz in the state.

Who would be a substitute for Ikonne as the PDP governorship candidate in the March Governorship election if indeed the speculation is right that there is a groundswell of campaign in search of a new governorship candidate?

One opinion held the view the governor was having issues asking Ikonne to step down considering the implications of going to the polls with an absentee governorship candidate; another said it was in order as far as the electoral act and the constitution have no issues with that. In fact, a former governor of the state was in detention when he was declared winner of the contest.

Just last week Director, Media, and Publicity, for the Atiku/Okowa Presidential Campaign Council in Abia State, Chief Kingsley Megwara said plans were on course to welcome PDP Presidential candidate former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar to the state on February 10 but that unfortunately, the state governorship candidate in the 2023 general elections Professor Uche Ikonne has not been on the campaign trail for two months running, confirming speculations he was suffering from ill-health and might not be available for presentation to Abians by  the PDP Presidential candidate. The Ngwa Development Initiative (NDI) had earlier kick started the conversation, expressing worry over the prolonged absence of Ikonne from public view asking for an explanation by the state government and the ruling party. According to its President Daniel Nkasiobi, the PDP governorship candidate was last sighted on November 24th, 2022, at the Umuahia Township Stadium when the Governorship campaign was flagged off. For him it was a funny game aimed at hoodwinking Ndi Abia while calling for prayers for the governorship candidate’s recovery.

In an interview with ThisDay last week, The spokesman of the Atiku/Okowa Campaign Council Chief Kingsley Megwara expressed a similar worry. As he put it, the Abia PDP is visibly worried about Professor Ikonne’s absence and inability to do what he should be doing now, campaigning and being accessible to the people; right now, he says, that is not happening adding that a lot of people have been worried not seeing him in the campaign trail. “For some of us, that is worrisome, and I would think that the PDP Chair in Abia State Dr. Asiforo Okere should respond to this.”

The PDP chairman in Abia State Dr. Asiforo Okere, who had earlier agreed to speak on the issue, became inaccessible, and could not shed some light on what was going on and the way forward.

Ikpeazu eventually came out to admit all was not well in the PDP camp, that Ikonne was indeed indisposed but was on his way to recovery and would be good enough to complete the run leading to the election. What seemed to be the governor’s unwillingness to force Ikonne to hand over his baton to someone else was his admission that Ikonne was down but was responding to treatment. He humorously noted that when he was sick himself, permutations were on, and people were allocating positions to themselves. Ikpeazu assured everyone Ikonne was recovering “progressively and gradually.” He added: “It is unfortunate that he is lately indisposed but I want to report some progress and the progress is that Ikonne is recovering gradually and progressively,” asking his subjects to keep hope alive."

At every turn of event to the 2023 Presidential and Governorship elections as well as the National and state Assembly elections, Abia State has been in the news for the wrong reasons. The ruling party, the PDP, has recorded a low approval rating since the administration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Poor governance, corruption, nepotism, prebendalism, and more importantly the governor’s unwillingness to play by the rules of the Abia Charter of Equity which he benefited from, and which demands power rotation after the Governor of a particular senatorial zone would have completed his two-term tenure, became issues of concern for the party.

The governor’s membership of the G-5 has alienated him from the state party chieftains and his Deputy Oko Ude-Chukwu, who is the Abia State Chairman of the Atiku/Okowa PCC. Ikpeazu’s self-seeking adventure may come to an end if the speculations are right that the governor is returning to the fold soon and would give Vice President Atiku all the support he needs to gather maximum support from the Abia electorate.

The current absence of Ikonne has rekindled the search for an acceptable candidate that can carry the party to victory. A few names with their strong and weak points were thrown up for consideration with their strong sponsors behind them.

And who are the possible contenders and pretenders that can be shortlisted for the ultimate choice? There is no doubt the governor must have been worried at the state of affairs working against the calculation of making a seamless handover in the expectation of victory in the March 11 Governorship elections. The elders of the party were equally concerned and threw up possible replacements if Ikonne agreed to step down.

Beginning with the primaries where Ikonne’s performance was hugely unrivalled in terms of the figures. Chief Lucky Igbokwe came second in the contest. Having lost, he pledged to work with the governorship candidate whose youth mobilisation scheme became an attraction for Igbokwe, a 4-year-old mobiliser whose popularity among the youths was generating interest in the Ikonne for Governor Vanguard. There is no doubt that Igbokwe has done a good job in the youth mobilisation campaign exercise. Beyond this, he has an eye for the crown and would not mind a second contest at the primary if the need comes up. What may count against Igbokwe is the fact that he is not from Abia South, Ikpeazu’s favourite Senatorial zone for his successor.

Prince Christopher Ekweremadu who was thrown around as the governor’s possible choice, unfortunately, did not contest the primary while the Deputy Governor Oko-Chukwu who is being canvassed as the candidate of Abia North, had also not contested the primary having written a letter earlier to the party stating he was not interested in contesting the primary, although he was said to have scored four votes.

 As it is, the electoral law which provides a 90-day window before the election for the substitution of a candidate, may have sealed the fate of any attempt to replace Ikonne even if he is not sighted before March 11, 2023. Although there has been an argument in certain quarters that the law is not very clear on this matter, Ikonne seems set for the governorship contest with his name on the ballot box.

The Abia Transformation Agenda Network (TAN), deplored the disconnect between the ruler and the ruled. Its coordinator Thomas Okoro added: “We noticed that a faction of PDP, which feels they would benefit if a swap happens, has been holding series of meetings on how to scale through the hurdle of replacement of candidate placed by the Electoral Act.

Going by provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act 2022, which deals with withdrawal of a candidate, “A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing, signed by him and delivered personally by to the political party that nominated him for the election, and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days (about 3 months) to the election.

“It is obvious that given the limitation of time and by statute, the PDP in Abia has no governorship candidate. Those who are benefitting from this quagmire are busy receiving millions of naira daily for campaigning for a candidate who cannot be found anyway. 

“We want to bring to the notice of Abians that members of the PDP, who are the architects of this game plan want to go into the elections with an absentee candidate so that it will be easy for them to have unfettered access to the state treasury in the (un) likely event that Ikonne wins. It is the vacuum of not having a functional governor that is inspiring them to behave in that manner.”

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