Integrity Group Flags Off Abia PDP Campaign, Seeks Support for Party’s Candidates
Emmanuel Ugwu-Nwogo in Umuahia
The five dissenting governors of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the aegis of the Integrity Group, yesterday stormed Umuahia the capital city of Abia State and flagged off the 2023 Campaign of the ruling party.
Led by the new leader of the group, Governor Samuel Ortom the G-5 members, including Governors Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu, Nyesom Wike of Rivers, Seyi Makinde of Oyo and the the host, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu arrived to a rapturous ovation.
The visiting governors canvassed support for the candidates of Abia’s ruling party and urged party leaders and members to ensure that the state retains its control of the state after 2023 election.
The campaign flag-off was climaxed with the presentation of party flags to all the PDP candidates for Abia by the National Deputy Chairman, South, Ambassador Taofeek Arapaja.
However, the rumoured health challenges of the Abia PDP governorship candidate, Prof Uchenna Ikonne played out in real time at the event, raising concern about his fitness for the long campaign ahead.
The former Vice-chancellor of the Abia State University Uturu (ABSU) slumped shortly after he laboriously made his speech after receiving the parry flag.
Immediately Prof Ikonne’s strength waned he was hurriedly led to the back of the podium and made to sit on a chair, surrounded by security agents and some aides who made frantic efforts to screen him from the public glare.
Even after Governor Ikpeazu and his fellow governors had left the stadium after the event, Ikonne stayed behind for quite a while before he was assisted to stand and was led to his car.
In his remarks, Ortom said that the G5 Governors were in Abia “to complement what our colleague is doing and to support him”.
He reiterated the commitment of the Integrity Group “to take Nigeria from what it is today” as characterised by insecurity, economic crisis and its attendant hardships
Corroborating the G5 leader, the Governor Ugwuanyi of Enugu said that they were in Abia to ensure that the ruling party in Abia win all the elections in Abia come 2023.
His Oyo State counterpart, Governor Seyi Makinde told the crowd of party faithful and supporters that thronged the Umuahia Township Stadium for the event that the 2023 poll
“Let me tell you, the 2023 election is going to be like no other in the history of Nigeria. Please, stay focused and hold your state(Abia) and it will be well with you,” he said.
Wike on his part re-emphasised that the G5 would not fight and run away in the battle to ensure that the right things were done not only in the main opposition PDP but in Nigeria as a whole.
“We the members of the Integrity Group, we are not going to leave PDP,” he said, adding that those that had left the party lacked integrity.
The host Governor, Ikpeazu sounded optimistic in his address, saying that his performance over the past seven years would ensure that “PDP will win clearly and squarely in Abia”.
According to the governor, no other political party is existing in Abia State and those that claim to be existing are people of zero electoral value . He expressed hope the incoming administration of Ikonne would sustain his legacies in the State.
In his remarks, the PDP State Chairman, Rt. Hon. Asiforo Okere disclosed that the event which is a combination of the rallies and sensitization that have been taking place in the Wards and LGAs of the State. He reviewed that the party is presenting 36 candidates in the 2023 elections, including the Governorship candidate, Prof. Uche Ikonne, three Senatorial candidates; Governor Ikpeazu, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa and Col. Akobundu Rtd, eight House of Representatives candidates and
24 House of Assembly. He thanked all party faithful, especially those that contested and could not get the tickets and described them as the heroes of the event
Earlier in his speech, the Abia PDP Campaign Director General, Rt. Hon. Chinedum Elechi, who described the rally as historic ,noted that based on what the Governor has done in the State, there is need for the people to elect Professor Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne as the next Governor and ensure all other PDP candidates win.
Rt. Elechi, represented by the Secretary General of the Campaign Council, Stanley Ojigbo said based on the capacity of the party and achievements of Governor Ikpeazu, PDP would occupy the 24 seats of the State House of Assembly and the eight seats and three seats respectively in the National Assembly. He urged Abians not to allow themselves to be deceived by desperate politicians who have electoral value but remain resolute in the PDP while appreciating all that attended the event.