Abia PDP: Restrict Fresh Primaries To Previous Aspirants, Runnerup Urges INEC
The runner up in the previous Abia governorship primary election Mayor Lucky Igbokwe, has called on the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to halt the decision by a few members of the party to micro-zone the next governorship candidate of the party to Isiala Ngwa LGA.
A press release signed by Hon. Elder Abraham Amah Abia PDP Vice Chairman/Acting State Publicity Secretary, stated that, “following the death of the Abia PDP gubernatorial candidate Prof. Eleazar Uche Ikonne on January 25, 2022, and the subsequent directive by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to conduct a fresh primary within 14 days to replace him, members of the Abia PDP State Caucus met today and zoned the vacant Guber seat to Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area, the home LGA of the late Prof. Uche Ikonne.”
Igbokwe criticised the decision of a few members of the party to choose a replacement for the party’s governorship candidate in the fresh primary ordered by INEC, saying it was wrong to allow those who did not participate in the first primary into the current primary ordered by INEC.
Igbokwe said the decision ran against the intention of the electoral law and the instruction of INEC that the election should be conducted in 14 days.
Igbokwe said: “Festus Okoye the INEC National Commissioner and Chairman Information and Voter Education Committee has stated, the election is still one month away, and the State’s ruling party the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has a window to conduct a fresh primary within 14 days of Ikonne’s death.”
According to Igbokwe, the first primary was marred by irregularities which led many to withdraw from participation while some left the party. This should not be allowed to happen again, he advised
He noted that if there was going to be another primary, it would be among those who participated in the first primary. Why would the modalities for a new primary be discussed without involving the earlier participants?
“The decision to zone the governorship to the Isiala Ngwa LGA is wrong. All those who participated during the first primary must not be excluded in the party decision making process on another primary.
“We invested in the party and cannot just be ignored. PDP must create room for growth and not recruit unwilling horses who did not aspire to lead in the first place.
“You do not force a child who did not do well in the sciences to read medicine, otherwise he would flunk his exams. This is why Abia State has failed woefully and keeps failing.
“Now you want us to buy fresh forms for the same position we have been cleared and undergo another screening process. Why must it be left open for those who were not participants in the first primary?” He asked.
The governorship aspirant said this was unfair and that he would not take the matter lying low.
“Three of us participated in the first primary Mayor Lucky Igbokwe, Chief (Mrs.) Ezenwanyi Jonah and Professor Uche Ikonne who persuaded me not to contest the flawed primary process.”
Igbokwe said the idea of calling for fresh candidates coming in for the primary as well as choosing some anointed candidate from Isiala Ngwa LGA is unacceptable to the majority of PDP party stakeholders.
He stressed that many people might wonder why it is gravely important that the party should not be allowed to present new aspirants to this runoff election.
“My fellow Abians let me explain. It can never be in the best interest of this state that has been pillaged and laundered to force upon us candidates who have not been vetted and tested as our potential flag bearers from whom one person will emerge to face the other party flag bearers already on the campaign trail for months now in this all- important governorship election.
“These are candidates that have not undergone the rigorous processes of formal and informal scrutiny by stakeholders and members of this party in the 17 LGAs,” noting that the essence of consultation before party declaration is to go round the local government areas, present them with your manifesto and interact with the people before primaries.
“Will seven days be enough for this consultation and campaign by these new aspirants?” Igbokwe asked.
The decision to micro-zone the next Governorship candidate of the party to Isiala Ngwa LGA was taken after a meeting of the Abia PDP State Caucus whose membership is drawn from across the State, including Abia North, Ikwuano/Umuahia, Ukwa East and Ukwa West Local Government areas.
Among those present at the meeting were the State Governor, His Excellency, Dr. Okezie Victor Ikpeazu, former governor of Abia State Senator Theodore A. Orji, the Speaker of the Abia State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Engr. Chinedum Enyinnaya Orji and the other two senatorial candidates of the PDP, namely Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and Col. Austin Akobundu respectively.
Also present at the meeting were the Statutory members of the Abia PDP State Caucus except one who sent in an apology for his absence. The Party urges members to support the decision of the Party caucus and work towards a successful primary election coming up on February 4, 2023.