Following the unfortunate demise of its gubernatorial candidate, Prof Eleazar Uche Ikonne, the Abia State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has fixed February 4, 2023 for its fresh primary election based on the provisions of the new electoral act.
Confirming this development, a chieftain of the party told Newsmen that the party is working assiduously to produce a credible candidate who will be widely accepted by the populace, and that about four persons have been shortlisted for that purpose.
Recall that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had on Wednesday January 25 announced that the PDP Abia State chapter should conduct a fresh primary within 14 days following the death of its governorship candidate, Ikonne.
Festus Okoye, INEC’s National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee, told Newsmen that since the election is still one month aware, the State’s ruling party still have the window to conduct fresh primary within 14 days of Ikonne’s death.
He further explained that; “if the candidate dies when polls have commenced, section 34(3)(b) of the Act provides that the running mate shall continue with the election and nominate a new running mate.”
The commission further warned that should the PDP fail to conduct fresh primaries within 14 days of the death of the candidate, it is assumed that they will not have a candidate in the election.
“Section 33 of the Electoral Act, 2022 is clear, unambiguous, and unequivocal that a political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted to the commission under section 29 of the Electoral Act except in the case of death of withdrawal,” Okoye explained.
Reacting further, he said that; “provided that 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 to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the commission for the election concerned.
“The period, slated in the timetable and schedule of activities for the withdrawal of candidates has lapsed. In the said timetable, the last days for withdrawal by governorship and State Assembly candidates was August 12, 2022.
“Moreover, section 31 of the Act makes it clear that a candidate can only withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing submitted to the political party that nominated him and such must be conveyed to the political party not later than 90 days to election,” the commission explained.