Stephen Ukandu, Umuahia
There is confusion in the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State, as the party has written to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to withdraw Dr Jasper Uche as its deputy governorship candidate in the March 11 gubernatorial poll.
PDP in a letter jointly signed by its National Chairman, Senator Iyorchia Ayu; and Secretary, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, re-affirmed Hon. Okey Igwe as it authentic deputy governorship candidate.
According to the letter dated February 20, 2023, Uche’s name was submitted to the electoral umpire by error.
The letter made available to Ikengaonline read in part: “Following the death of Professor Uche Ikonne, the party conducted a fresh primary election wherein Ahiwe Okechuku Ambrose emerged the winner.
“However, in submitting the name of Ahiwe Okechukwu Ambrose to the commission as Abia governorship candidate, the party mistakenly and inadvertently submitted the name of Uche Chidiebube Jasper as its deputy governorship candidate.
“By this letter, the party hereby affirms that Igwe Philip Okey, remains the party deputy governorship candidate for Abia State in the forthcoming election.
“The name of Uche Chidiebube Jasper mistakenly forwarded to the party on the 10th of February, 2023, should be disregarded.
“Please note that the particulars of Igwe Philip Okey earlier submitted to the commission remain valid, and should be acted upon by the commission.”
Recall that while Igwe was the late Ikonne’s running mate, Uche was nominated by stakeholders as running mate after the emergence of Ahiwe following the death of Ikonne.
However, Igwe kicked against his replacement by Uche who is his kinsman, threatening to challenge the action in court.
His brother, Chief Chris Igwe, who is one of the major financiers of Abia PDP is said to have spent heavily in the project so far, and not happy to have his brother dropped suddenly.
Ikengaonline gathered that the stakeholders who pushed for the replacement of the lawmaker as Ahiwe’s running mate premised their argument on the fact that he has a dual citizenship.
Acting Publicity Secretary of Abia PDP, Elder Abraham Amah, confirmed the development during a press briefing in Umuahia on Sunday.
He explained that it was the statutory responsibility of the national leadership of the party to transmit names of its candidates to INEC, adding that the leadership of the PDP in the state is not in loggerheads with the national leadership over the matter contrary to some social media reports.
Amah, also denied speculations that the national leadership of the party had imposed candidate on the party, explaining that “they are the final authority in sending names of party’s candidates to INEC.”
He said that contrary to social media reports, “Abia PDP is not at war with the national leadership of the party,” adding that “whatever is their stand on the matter is acceptable to us.”
Asked whether the development would not adversely affect the fortunes of the party in the forthcoming governorship election, Amah said that the matter was not beyond the control of the party.
He explained that both deputy governorship candidates were eminently qualified to even be Governor, and all come from the same community (Isuochi).
Amah who admitted that the “Obi wave” was responsible for the poor outing of the PDP in the February 25 presidential and national assembly polls, predicted a landslide for the party in the forthcoming elections.
“The Obi wave is over with the presidential poll. For March 11, we are coming to deliver our governor. We are not joking, we are on ground and we will win.”
He also hinted that the ruling party was into talks with other parties as part of its strategies to retain power in the state.
The PDP Spokesman, strongly rejected the results of the February 25 presidential and national assembly polls in the state, said they were manipulated.
He accused INEC of betraying the confidence of the people, and deliberately delaying the arrival of voting materials in most polling units to achieve a predetermined goal.
According to him, election did not hold in over 70 polling units in Arochukwu/ Ohafia federal constituency alone with over 65,000 voters, yet INEC declared the result of Abia North senatorial poll that ought to have been inconclusive as the margin of win was about 3000.
He regretted that the disenfranchised voters in the affected areas were getting ready for a rescheduled election as INEC had earlier directed, the commission suddenly declared the result, claiming to be acting on order from above.
The PDP Spokesman called for a fresh election in all the polling units where voting did not take place on February 25 for no fault of the voters.
Amah cautioned INEC not to allow the repetition of the February 25 charade to avoid unnecessary crisis.