Governor David Umahi of Ebonyi State has finally made the final list of candidates for the 2023 senatorial election in the state. Others who made the list include a former governor of the state, Sam Egwu, and a former member of the House of Representatives, Linus Okorie.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) on Tuesday published and approved the final list of candidates for national elections, namely presidential, senatorial and federal constituencies. Mr Umahi was earlier omitted from the list of candidates released earlier in June following controversy which trailed his emergence as the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) for the election. The governor had contested for the presidential primary of the party which he lost to Bola Tinubu while his younger brother, Austin Umahi, won the Ebonyi South senatorial primary of the party in May.
However, after the primaries, the younger Umahi stepped down for the governor leading to a rerun primary which the governor contested unopposed. But the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) refused to list his name as the candidate and instead chose to leave the position vacant. This led to the governor suing INEC at the federal high court seeking to compel the electoral body to accept his name as a candidate of the party.
But, the runner-up to the first primary, Ann Agom-Eze, joined the suit and urged the court to recognise her as the candidate of the party. Fatun Riman, the judge, in his ruling, however, ordered another primary with Mrs Agom Eze and any other interested fresh candidates allowed to take part. Mrs Agom-Eze, not satisfied with the ruling, appealed the judgement at the Court of Appeal in Enugu and filed for a stay of execution. But the APC in Ebonyi obtained an order from the federal high court to go ahead with the primary which Mr Umahi won even as the matter at the appeal court is still on. For Mr Egwu, the first civilian governor of the Ebonyi State, his party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), held two primaries in the state. Due to a leadership tussle in the party, the first primary, which was held on 28 May, was cancelled by the national leadership of the party which ordered a second one on 4 June. Mr Egwu, a two-term senator, currently representing Ebonyi North senatorial district, won the primary but some aspirants reportedly took him to court.
Mr Okorie, who was then still in the PDP, contested for the Ebonyi South ticket of the party. The exercise, however, ended in controversy as he was alleged to have won one of the primaries while the incumbent senator, Michael Nnachi, reportedly won the second primary.
The duo turned to the federal high court to determine the authentic candidate of the party but Mr Okorie later withdrew from the case and defected to the Labour Party where he clinched the ticket in a rerun election last month. This led to his name being listed Tuesday as the candidate of the LP and Mr Nnachi being listed as the candidate of the PDP. Both will slug it out with Governor Umahi in the district in the February general election. Other notable names listed for the election include a former PDP state Chairman, Onyekachi Nwebonyi, who is contesting for Ebonyi North under the APC and former Chairman of Ezza South Local Government Area, Kenneth Eze, who is listed as APC candidate for Ebonyi Central. A former House of Representatives member, Lazarus Ogbe, is listed as the candidate of PDP for Ebonyi Central while Emma Onwe, a serving senator, is the candidate of All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) for Ebonyi Central. The senatorial election will hold across the country on 6 February.