After convincing stakeholders in the state chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party to support Professor Uche Ikonne, a former Vice Chancellor of the Abia State University, Uturu, as his preferred candidate for the Abia governorship election in 2023, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu may have done a U-turn.
THE WHISTLER can authoritatively report that Ikpeazu has asked another aspirant, Chinenye Nwogu, to pick the governorship nomination form.
Both aspirants are from Isiala Ngwa North Local Government Area in Abia Central District of the state. But while Ikonne hails from Agburuike –Nsulu, Nwogu comes from Eziala Nsulu.
Ikonne, a few days ago, picked his governorship nomination form, and was touted as the consensus guber candidate of the party.
Nwogu is the Abia State Focal Person for Npower and handles the Federal Government’s special empowerment programmes like the School Feeding and the Conditional Cash Transfers, among others.
It was believed that it was because of Ikonne that the state PDP announced it had zoned the governorship to Abia Central and Abia North Senatorial Districts.
It is unclear yet why Ikpeazu appeared to have jettisoned Ikonne so soon after leading him and elders of his clan, who accompanied him to purchase the nomination form, to believe he was the anointed person to succeed him.
But sources in the state told THE WHISTLER that the governor may have changed his mind about Ikonne due to the backlash of opposition after it emerged he was the governor’s preferred candidate.
Some opposition figures in the state had carpeted his choice, saying Ikonne did not do well when he was the VC at the state university, among other shortcomings.
There are also suggestions that Ikonne may have been captured by the radar of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission over his stewardship at the university.
“He may have some questions to answer regarding the finances of the university while he was vc,” disclosed a member of the Abia State House of Assembly.
But the fact that Gov Ikpeazu could be prompting another gubernatorial aspirant after openly identifying with Ikonne is what some stakeholders find unwholesome in the count down to the governorship election.
“Although some of us who know Ikpeazu very well are not surprised by the volte face,” said a member of the party. “Those close to him know that he’s not loyal to any cause, and cannot stick out his neck for his associates, a trait that is not good for a party leader.”
Nwogu is expected to pick his own nomination forms in the coming days , an event that is expected to deepen the schism in the state chapter of the party.