With the death of the Abia State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate, Prof. Uche Ikonne, on Wednesday morning in Abuja, just few weeks to the 2023 general election, the ruling party in the State will have to return to the drawing board to produce a new candidate before the March 11, 2023 governorship poll in the State.

Consequently, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is mandated by law to make some changes to accommodate the new development especially for another primary election to take place, according to the Electoral Act, 2022.

According to Section 34 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2022, it stipulates that if a nominated candidate dies before an election begins, the election will be rescheduled within 14 days, by the chief national electoral commissioner of INEC.

Section 34 (1) of the Act states inter alia: “If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election within 14 days.”

Also, the law states that the list of voters to be used at a postponed election shall be the official voter register that was to be used if the election had not been postponed.

Section (3) further says that after the commencement of polls and before the announcement of the final result and declaration of a winner, a candidate dies, “(a) the Commission shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, suspend the election for a period not more than 21 days; and

“(b) in the case of election into a legislative House, the election shall start afresh and the political party whose candidate died may, if it intends to continue to participate in the election, conduct a fresh primary within 14 days of the death of its candidate and submit the name of a new candidate to the Commission to replace the dead candidate.”

It further says that “provided that in the case of presidential or gubernatorial or Federal Capital Territory Area Council election, the running mate shall continue with the election and nominate a new running mate.”

Recall that the PDP governorship candidate in Abia State, Prof. Eleazar Uche Ikonne, died in the wee hours of Wednesday at the National Hospital in Abuja from cardiac arrest.

This was announced in a statement by his son, Dr Uche Ikonne Chikieze, on Wednesday afternoon.

The statement reads, “I regret to announce the death of my dear father, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, who died at the National Hospital Abuja today January 2023

25, by 4 am after a brief illness.

“He was recovering after taking proper treatment in the United Kingdom but relapsed a few days ago leading to multiple cardiac arrests for which he didn’t recover from.

“Further details and arrangements would be made known to the public after deliberations and meetings are made within the family.”

Late Ikonne was a Professor of Optometry. In December 2015, he became the 7th substantive Vice-Chancellor of the Abia State University, Uturu, having previously served as the Rector, Abia State Polytechnic, Aba.