By Uche Amunike
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has called for a fresh primary election in Abia State to be held in the next 14 days to replace the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Professor Uche Eleazar Ikonne, who died, Tuesday, in Abuja.
According to the electoral umpire, the election has not yet started, therefore the Deputy Governorship candidate of the party is not to automatically take over the position of the late governorship candidate.
Speaking to Newsmen, the INEC National Commissioner on Voter Education and Publicity, Festus Okoye, explained that the Electoral Act states that the party had the liberty to conduct a fresh primary election within 14 days, which started counting from the day of the death of the PDP governorship candidate.
Hear him: ‘He (the deputy governorship candidate) can only fly the flag if election has commenced. They have to hold a fresh primary within 14 days of the death and then they submit to INEC.’
The family of the deceased Abia state PDP gubernatorial flag bearer officially announced his death, yesterday, stating that he died by 4am at the National Hospital, Abuja after a brief illness. His son, Dr Uche-Ikonne Chikezie did say that his late father showed signs of recovering after he returned from his medical treatment abroad, only to suffer a relapse which led to him having ‘multiple cardiac arrests that eventually claimed his life.
The spokesman of the Ikonne family assured that further arrangements would be made known to the family after their meetings.
Meanwhile, party faithful and other well- meaning Nigerians have been sending their condolences.
The Abia State Governor, Dr Ikpeazu Okezie has also given directives for all flags in every PDP office to be flown at half-mast in honour of the late PDP governorship candidate. Ikpeazu, who anointed Ikonne as his successor stated in his press release: ‘It is with a heavy heart but total submission to the will of God that we announce the passing of our PDP governorship candidate for the 2023 general election, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne.’ He called on all stakeholders and party members to maintain calmness as the party weathers the present storm in the state.
The PDP National Chairman, Iyorchia Ayu in his own statement, described the late Ikonne’s death as a rude shock, even as he described him as a true friend, loving father and devoted husband who valued his family over every other thing.
The party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar has expressed his pain at the loss of the late Ikonne, through a statement released by his Media Adviser, Paul Ibe. He described the late professor as a great personality of distinction with huge experience in administration, whose contributions in improving knowledge within the academic community would be experienced and appreciated by the coming generations. He also said that Ikonne’s death came as a rude shock, being one of the strongholds of the PDP who would have coasted the party to victory in the forthcoming general election in Abia state.