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It is no longer news that Prof Ikonne, the Abia state PDP gubernatorial candidate is dead. The next question is what the 2022 Electoral Act says about such scenario?
Section 29 of the Act is clear on how a political party should submit the names of their nominated candidates at least 180 days before the date fixed for the general election. The section states that:
- Every political party shall, not later than 180 days before the date appointed for a general election under this Act, submit to the Commission, in the prescribed Forms, the list of the candidates the party proposes to sponsor at the elections, who must have emerged from valid primaries conducted by the political party.
(2) The list or information submitted by each candidate shall be accompanied by an affidavit sworn to by the candidate at the Federal High Court, High Court of a State, or Federal Capital Territory, indicating that he or she has fulfilled all the constitutional requirements for election into that office.
(3) The Commission shall, within seven days of the receipt of the personal particulars of the candidate, publish same in the constituency where the candidate intends to contest the election.
(4) Any person may apply to the Commission for a copy of nomination form, affidavit and any other document submitted by a candidate at an election and the Commission shall, upon payment of a prescribed fee, issue such person with a certified copy of the document within 14 days.
(5) Any aspirant who participated in the primaries of his political party who has reasonable grounds to believe that any information given by his political party’s candidate in the affidavit or any document submitted by that candidate in relation to his constitutional requirements to contest the election is false, may file a suit at the Federal High Court against that candidate seeking a declaration that the information contained in the affidavit is false.
(6) Where the Court determines that any of the information contained in the affidavit is false only as it relates to constitutional requirements of eligibility, the Court shall issue an order disqualifying the candidate and the sponsoring political party and then declare the candidate with the second highest number of valid votes and who satisfies the constitutional requirement as the winner of the election.
(7) A candidate for an election shall, at the time of submitting the prescribed form, furnish the Commission with an identifiable address in the state where he or she intends to contest the election at which address all documents and court processes from either the Commission or any other person shall be served on him or her. (8) A political party which presents to the Commission the name of a candidate who does not meet the qualification stipulated in this section, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of N10,000,000.
Also, section 33 of the Act clearly states that a political party shall not be allowed to change or substitute its candidate whose name has been submitted under section 29 of the Electoral Act, except in the case of death or withdrawal by the candidate : 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 election to produce and submit a fresh candidate to the Commission for the election concerned,so Abia state PDP has only but 14 days to conduct a fresh gubernatorial primary and right the wrong perpetrated in the primary that produced Prof Ikonne from a senatorial zone that does not have the turn to do so.
The Nigerian constitution in order to ensure that the government in a state belongs to all the people in the state ,inserted Section 14 (4) of the constitution which clearly states that : the composition of the Government of a State, a local government council, or any of the agencies of such Government or council, and the conduct of the affairs of the Government or council or such agencies shall be carried out in such manner as to recognise the diversity of the people within its area of authority and the need to promote a sense of belonging and loyalty among all the people of the Federation. In 1999, Abia north senatorial zone produced Governor Orji Uzor Kalu , and after eight years ,the power shifted to Abia-central senatorial zone which produced Governor T.A. Orji . After eight years, the power again shifted to Abia –south senatorial zone which produced the incumbent Governor Okezie Ikpeazu.
It is said that those whose palm-kernels were cracked for them by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble, but this incumbent governor, decided to destroy the zoning arrangement that produced him as the governor of the state by masterminding a primary that produced Prof Ikonne from Abia –central senatorial zone as against the turn of the Abia-north senatorial zone .
The Abia state PDP has only but 14 days according to the Electoral Act to right the wrong done to Abia north senatorial zone in the last PDP governorship primary .