The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Abia State will be battling to overcome some legal hurdles if it must field a governorship candidate for the 2023 general elections.
This followed the death of Uche Ikonne, the party’s candidate for the election.
Mr Ikonne, a professor and former vice chancellor of the Abia State University Uturu, passed away on Wednesday, 25 January, around 4 a.m. at the National Hospital Abuja, according to a statement from his first son, Uche-Ikonne Chikezie, on behalf of the family.
Setback to Ikpeazu
The deceased was the candidate endorsed by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State as his preferred successor.
The death of the PDP candidate will prove a setback to Mr Ikpeazu, a member of the G-5, having been compelled by the situation to shop for a replacement after reportedly investing in campaigns for the deceased.
The Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike leads the G-5, a group of PDP governors who are also aggrieved with the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and the party’s leadership.
Governor Samuel Ortom (Benue), Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi (Enugu), and Seyi Makinde (Oyo) are other members of the G-5.
The group came about after the PDP presidential primary, where Nigeria’s former vice president, Atiku, defeated Mr Wike and others to become the party’s presidential candidate.
The group have been demanding the resignation of the PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, to pave the way for a southerner to lead the party in order to achieve a “regional balance”.
The governors’ argument is that both Mr Ayu and Atiku hail from northern Nigeria.
For Mr Ikonne, the deceased, to be replaced as the PDP governorship candidate in the state, the party must hold a fresh primary election within the next 14 days, according to Section 33 (1) of the 2022 Electoral Law.
The law provides that political parties cannot change their candidates except in the event of death or withdrawal of such candidates.
“…in the case of such withdrawal or death of a candidate, the political party affected shall, within 14 days of the occurrence of the event, hold a fresh primary election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the commission (INEC) for the election concerned,” the section of the law stated.
The implication of this section is that the PDP in Abia State must hold a fresh primary election on or before 8 February, 2023 to produce Mr Ikonne’s replacement or face the possibility of not fielding a governorship candidate in the 11 March election in the state.
A crosscheck by PREMIUM TIMES indicated that the 2022 Electoral Law was silent on the fate of a running mate, implying that a joint ticket is deemed terminated in the event of a flagbearer’s death before the election.
However, a running mate for governorship, presidential and Federal Capital Territory Council Area election, according to Section 34 (3) (a & b) of the law, is only allowed to replace a substantive candidate in the event that the substantive candidate died after the commencement of the poll and before the announcement of the final result as well as declaration of a winner.
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