Governor Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State and a former governor of the state, Orji Kalu, have made the final list of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, for the 2023 senatorial contest in Abia. While Mr Ikpeazụ was listed as candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Abia South; Mr Kalu, currently the Chief Whip of the Senate, was named as the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate for Abia North. Also, a former Minority Leader of the Senate, Enyinnaya Abaribe, was listed as the All Progressives Grand Alliance, (APGA) candidate for Abia South while Mao Ohuabunwa was named PDP candidate for Abia North. This indicates that Governor Ikpeazu will battle his former ally, Mr Abaribe, for the Abia South Senate seat currently held by the latter.
Some of the other candidates who also made the list are Austin Akobundu (PDP (Abia Central); Chuku Wachuku (YPP, Abia Central); and Darlington Nwokocha (Labour Party, Abia Central) with a “court order” remark against his name.
A total of 33 senatorial candidates and 81 House of Representatives candidates from different political parties made the final list of contestants for the federal legislative seats in Abia. The list, signed by the Secretary of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Rose Oriaran-Anthony, was published at the INEC headquarters Umuahia on Tuesday. According to the list, 11 senatorial candidates are contesting for Abia North; 10 for Abia Central; and 12 for Abia South. A careful study of the list shows that only three females representing less than 10 per cent are in the senatorial race for Abia. The three females in the male-dominated list include Carol Dike-Okorafor (APGA, Abia North); Nnennaya Nwosu (APM, Abia North); and Blessing Nwagba (APC, Abia South).
Also, a closer look at the list shows that the oldest candidate is Desmond Ihezie of the New Nigeria Peoples Party, 89, (NNPP, Abia South); while the youngest are Saidu Ahmed, also of NNPP (Abia North), 36; and Joseph Ulu (NRM, Abia South), also 36. Eighty one contestants comprising 12 females and 69 males made the final list for the House of Representatives. The key battleground is Abịa South where Mr Ikpeazụ will battle Mr Abaribe for the sole Senate ticket of the zone. The duo fell out this year as Mr Ikpeazụ sought to upstage Mr Abaribe as the senator representing the zone, a position Mr Abaribe has held for four terms, from 2007 till date. Mr Abaribe had contested the governorship primary of the PDP where he lost to Mr Ikpeazu’s annointed candidate, Uche Ikonne, before decamping to APGA where he clinched the Senate ticket of his new party.