Yesterday’s passage of Prof Uche Ikonne throws up questions about who replaces him as Abia State PDP governorship candidate in the state.
How Ikonne Died
Ikonne, the governorship candidate, passed away yesterday, Wednesday 25 January, barely 44 days to the governorship elections.
He was 66 years.
The odds do not favour Barrister Okey Igwe, his running mate for the 11 March 2023 election.
Enugu Metro checks suggest that, in addition to a legal hurdle, politics of zoning may seal the fate of the deputy governorship candidate.
The Electoral Act (2022) is silent on automatic succession where a substantive candidate dies before an election could hold.
However, a deputy candidate automatically ascends if the substantive candidate died during voting and before announcement of a winner. This rule is provided for in Section 34(3)(A&B) of the Act.
Consequently, Igwe (49), an American-trained lawyer and current state legislator, won’t automatically succeed Ikonne as candidate.
This is because where a governorship candidate dies or withdraws before an election, Section 33(1) of the law requires his party to replace him through a fresh primary.
Abia PDP must therefore find and present a new governorship candidate to INEC on or before 14 days of Ikonne’s death.
The party must hold this fresh primary on or before 8 February 2023 to select and present a new candidate to INEC.
The odds again may not favour Barrister Igwe because he shoulders a rotation burden. In other eords, if Abia PDP continues with its zoning arrangement, the deputy candidate is automatically ruled out.
Under this arrangement, the governorship slot was ceded to Abia South Senatorial District where late Ikonne comes from. Igwe is from Abia North.
Given this scenario, the best the deputy can get is to be paired again with a new candidate tapped from Abia South District.
Nigeria’s governorship elections hold 11 March 2023 in majority of the country’s 36 states.
Among the States not holding governorship elections are Imo and Anambra (Southeast), Ekiti and Osun (Southwest) and Edo (South-South).
Prof Ikonne dies, aged 66
Prof Ikonne’s son, Chikezie, announced his father’s death yesterday 25 January.
Governor Ikpeazu confirmed the news immediately after.
According to Chikezie, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne died by 4.00 a.m. at the National Hospital Abuja.
“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.
Chikezie promised to release burial details after deliberations by the family.
Ikonne, a professor of optometry retired as Vice Chancellor of Abia State University before joining politics.
Who replaces late Ikonne as Abia PDP candidate?