What the PDP must do to replace its late candidate for governor in Abia


He Democratic Party of the Peoples (PDP) in Abia state will fight to overcome some legal hurdles if it is to field a gubernatorial candidate for the 2023 general election.

This followed the death of Uche Ikonne, the party’s candidate for the elections.

Mr. Ikonne, a professor and former Vice Chancellor of Abia Uturu State University, passed away on Wednesday, January 25, at around 4 am at Abuja National Hospital, according to a statement from his first son, Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, in family name.

Setback to Ikpeazu

The deceased was the candidate endorsed by Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu as his preferred successor.

The death of the PDP candidate will be a setback for G-5 member Ikpeazu, who was forced by the situation to seek a replacement after allegedly investing in campaigns for the deceased.

Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike heads the G-5, a group of DPP governors who are also upset with DPP presidential candidate Atiku Abubakar and the party leadership.

Governor Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu) and Seyi Makinde (Oyo) are other members of the G-5.

The group emerged after the PDP presidential primary, where former Nigerian Vice President Atiku defeated Wike and others to become the party’s presidential candidate.

The group has been demanding the resignation of PDP national chairman Iyorchia Ayu to pave the way for a southerner to lead the party in order to achieve “regional balance.”

The governors’ argument is that both Ayu and Atiku hail from northern Nigeria.

Ikonne Substitution

In order for Ikonne, the deceased, to be replaced as the PDP’s gubernatorial candidate in the state, the party must hold a new primary election within the next 14 days, in accordance with Section 33(1) of the Election Act 2022.

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The law establishes that political parties cannot change their candidates except in case of death or withdrawal of said candidates.

“…in the case of said withdrawal or death of a candidate, the affected political party shall, within 14 days following the occurrence of the event, hold a new primary election to produce and present a new candidate to the commission (INEC) for the election in question,” the section of the law said.

The implication of this section is that the PDP in Abia State must hold a new primary election on or before February 8, 2023 to produce Mr. Ikonne’s replacement or face the possibility of not fielding a gubernatorial candidate in the election. March 11 in the state.

A PREMIUM TIMES cross-check indicated that the 2022 Electoral Law was silent on the fate of a running mate, implying that a joint candidacy is considered rescinded in the event of the standard-bearer’s death before the election.

However, according to Section 34 (3) (a and b) of the Act, a running mate for the Governor, President and Federal Capital Territory Council elections can only replace a substantive candidate in case the substantive candidate dies after the start of voting and before the announcement of the final result, as well as the declaration of a winner.

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