The 2023 Abia Governorship race is a four-way battle between battle-tested PDP, resurgent Labour, old warhorse APGA, and stick-to-it APC. It is also a straight fight between two professors and two economists who are also technocrats in their own right.

Professors Uche Ikonne and Gregory Ibe fly the flags of ruling PDP and APGA, the perpetual runner up since 2011. Both are relatively new in gubernatorial contests. Labour and APC are fielding veterans of past governorship campaigns who are, interestingly both economists.

The parties ended up with the following candidates:

  • PDP Governor Okezie Ikpeazu controversially chose Prof. Uche Ikonne and he easily won the PDP primaries to emerge candidate.
  • The All Progressives Grand Alliance went for Prof. Gregory Ibeh, proprietor of Gregory University, Uturu Okigwe.
  • All Progressives Congress (APC) picked economist and publisher, Chief Ikechi Emenike. He is gunning for the position for the third time since 2015. He had previously contested the primaries in the PDP.
  • Labour Party went for another veteran, Chief Alex Otti. Like Emenike, Otti is also an economist and a veteran banker who was the APGA candidate in 2019.

The election will take place on 11 March 2023, two weeks after the Presidential Elections. Here is how each candidate emerged:

Ikechi Emenike (APC): He is running for the second time as candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC). He ran in 2015 after defecting from the PDP and lost to incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. In 2019, he was edged out by former Minister Uche Ogah who was also dusted by Ikpeazu. In the runup to this year’s primaries, his party ended up with parallel primaries on 26 May. Emenike emerged as candidate in one while his old rival, Uche Ogah, won the opposing primary. The case ended up in court and was ruled in favour of Emenike. It was sweet victory for his loss at the primaries in 2019. Will he be three times lucky this time around?

Uche Ikonne (PDP): A zoning controversy tore the party apart. It also created the confusion that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu exploited to handpick a professor. Although the choice was generally criticized, PDP appeared to have quickly put its house in order. The party advertised its readiness to defend the mandate when Ikpeazu leaves on 29 May 2023. It will be an uphill battle for the ruling party in the state. Nonetheless, no one discounts the formidable ground game that PDP displays in the southeast region. It is this resilience that returned the party to power again and again in the state. Will the party prevail this time around? It’s too early to tell. What is certain is that an interesting battle is shaping up ahead between PDP and the opposition.

Alex Otti (Labour): Chief Alex Otti, economist and banker, is running for office for the third consecutive time. In 2019, he contested the election under the banner of APGA and lost to the incumbent, Dr. Okezie Ikpeazu. He promises to run a purposeful administration. Otti pledged to pay outstanding salaries, allowances, and pension within six months as governor. He also vowed to serve Abia without collecting a salary. “I will use your money to work for you,” he said. Will he soar to victory this time around on the wings of the Labour surge?

Gregory Ibe (APGA): The Alliance has not fared well in Abia since Gov Theodore Orji ran to it for protection against the onslaught of OUK. It has however consistently run second best behind PDP, first in 2015 and with Alex Otti in 2019. In this year’s primaries, Prof. Ibe polled 283 votes to defeat Etigwe Uwa, who scored 148, Ijioma N Ijioma, a retired general, who garnered 86, while Chikwe Udensi came last with 12. “Since it will not be an APGA affair alone, I request all hands on deck for us to rewrite the story of our dear state. Irrespective of the party you are affiliated to. This is the time to think less of personal interests and more of our collective aspirations as a people destined by God for greatness.”

What do you think the outcome will be? Who is your favourite to win and why? Let’s hear it!

The 2023 Abia Governorship Race

The 2023 Abia Governorship Race

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