• Wednesday, September 27, 2023
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2023 guber/House of Assembly election: PDP fights for survival in Abia

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The 2023 gubernatorial and House of Assembly election will hold on Saturday, March 11, 2023. Twenty-seven states, including Abia will be seeking to elect governors that would direct the affairs of the states for the next four years.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) since 1999 has been the dominant political party in Abia and the entire South-East region of Nigeria,

Orji Uzor Kalu won Abia governorship seat at the return of democracy in 1999 on the platform of the PDP.

Kalu, in 2006 left PDP and formed Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA), which produced Theodore Orji, his successor in 2007.

That relationship however, went sour and Theodore Orji dumped PPA and rejoined the PDP, which gave him the platform to seek re-election in 2011 and the PDP has since remained the ruling party in Abia State.

The table appears to be turning with the February 25, 2023 presidential/National Assembly election, where PDP lost all the three senatorial seats to opposition parties.

The Labour Party won in Abia Central Senatorial zone; All Progressives Grand Alliance, Abia South senatorial zone, while the All Progressives Congress won in Abia North.
The Labour Party won six, out of 8 House of Representatives seats in the state, leaving one each for the PDP and APC.

For the March 11, 2023 governorship/House of Assembly election, the PDP in Abia will be fighting for survival, as the Labour Party (LP), All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Young Progressives Party (YPP) with popular candidates, are major contenders to the Government House, Umuahia.

Read also: Okowa didn’t threaten to sack council bosses over failure to deliver PDP candidates – Aniagwu

The major contenders are:

Okey Ahiwe

Okey Ahiwe, an entrepreneur and politician, was appointed Chief of Staff to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State in April 2022.

He was drafted to replace Eleazer Ikonne, a professor, who died few weeks to the ongoing general election.

Alex Otti

Alex Otti, governorship candidate of the Labour Party, born on February 18, 1965, is an economist, banker, investor, philanthropist and politician. Otti is a former group managing director of the defunct Diamond Bank PLC, a retail financial institution.

He was a gubernatorial candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) in 2015 and 2019.

On December 31, 2015, the Court of Appeal, which sat in Owerri removed Okezie Ikpeazu of the Peoples Democratic Party, as governor of Abia State and declared Otti the winner of the April 11 and April 25, 2015 Governorship elections in the state. On February 3, 2016, the Supreme Court of Nigeria reversed the verdict of the Court of Appeal and affirmed the election of Ikpeazu as governor. Otti is currently running on the platform of the Labour Party in Abia State.

Gregory Ibe

Gregory Ibe, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, born December 10, 1963, is an industrialist and educationist. He is the chancellor of Gregory University, Uturu, Abia State.

Ikechi Emenike

Ikechi Emenike, governorship candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), a highly educated gentleman, is an economist, a former University lecturer and also a former editor of a reputable international magazine before joining politics.

Enyinnaya Nwafor

Enyinnaya Nwafor, an engineer and governorship candidate of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), is the son of the late Chima Nwafor, former deputy governor of Abia State, between 1992 and 2003.

People are of the view that the sudden death of​Eleazer Ikonne, a professor and PDP candidate for the 2023 gubernatorial election, few weeks to the election and his subsequent replacement with Okey Ahaiwe, who resigned his position as chief of staff to Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, to contest in the primaries and won, may affect the chances of the party in retaining the governorship seat in the state.

Also the decision of the PDP to micro-zone the governorship seat to Isiala Ngwa area of Abia Central senatorial zone, instead of Abia North senatorial zone, as expected by many Abians, will also be a major setback for the party.

Consequently, the PDP may find it difficult to convince the electorate in Abia North, who argued that it is their turn to produce a governor in 2023, based on rotation.

Another issue that may pull the plug on PDP’s quest to retain power in Abia is the Obidient wave, which stopped the aspiration of Governor Okezie Ikpeazu to go to the Senate.

So, if the electorate repeats the voting pattern in the just concluded Presidential/National Assembly election, that would bring to an end, the feeling of invincibility of PDP in Abia.