Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
The whereabouts of the Abia State governorship candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Professor Uche Ikonne, has become a serious source of concern as a group known as Abia Transformation Agenda Network (TAN), has challenged the ruling party to come up with information about him.
Ikonne, the immediate-past Vice Chancellor of the Abia State University Uturu, was last seen in public on November 22, 2022, after his formal presentation at the Umuahia Township Stadium.
The group said that his continued absence and lack of information about his health status had started generating curiosity across the state.
National Coordinator of the group, Thomas Okoro, in a statement, accused the ruling party of “playing hide and seek with the collective destiny of Abians” by keepings Abians in the dark about the frontline governorship candidate.
The group challenged the ruling party to tell Abians all it knew about the party’s governorship candidate, saying that the people the issues surrounding his health status should no longer be left in the realms of speculation.
It said it would be wrong for the ruling party to go into the election with a candidate whose whereabouts and medical fitness were shrouded in controversy.
The statement made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “In Abia, there are varying speculations regarding where the 70 year old former Vice Chancellor is attending to his health since he allegedly collapsed at the Umuahia Township Stadium venue of the Abia PDP Campaign Flag off.
“We noticed that a faction of PDP who feel they would benefit if a swap happens, has been holding series of meetings on how to scale through the hurdle of replacement of candidate placed by the Electoral Act.
“Going by provisions of Section 31 of the Electoral Act that deals specifically with Withdrawal of a Candidate, “A candidate may withdraw his or her candidature by notice in writing signed by him and delivered personally by the candidate to the political party that nominated him for the election and the political party shall convey such withdrawal to the Commission not later than 90 days to the election.
“It is obvious that given the limitation of time and by statutes, the PDP in Abia State has no Governorship Candidate.
“Those who are benefitting from this quagmire are busy receiving millions of naira daily for campaigning for a candidate who cannot be found anyway.
“We want to bring to the notice of Abians that members of the PDP who are the architects of this game plan want to go into the elections with an absentee so that it will be very easy for them to have unfettered access to the State Treasury in the unlikely event that Ikonne wins.
“It is that vacuum of not having a functional Governor that is inspiring them to behave as if all do not have sense.
“If this is not true, why are they playing hide and seek? Why would they be spending billions of Abia funds campaigning for a man whose whereabouts is not known?
“We are worried that a State with an active population of over 4 million people will be pocketed by a few whom we have entrusted our resources into their care.
“The pertinent question that shall be on the lips of every Abian is: what are they hiding about Prof. Ikonne’s health?
“Apart from those who take Abians for a ride, which other people are making sure that Abians are ignored?
“We have always known that Ikonne has multiple godfathers. What we seek is for one of the Ikonne’s godfathers to be bold enough to tell Abians why they are making us look stupid.
“Only recently on a Radio Interview, Gov. Okezie Ikpeazu admitted that: “Prof. Ikonne is sick and will return in the future.
“Ikpeazu was to later add salt to injury by confessing that, “Prof. Ikonne will return soon or later.
“We find this recant despicable and utterly deceitful. We will continue to ask: WHERE IS PROF. IKONNE?”