Abia State governor Okezie Ikpeazu and the presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), Peter Obi have announced the suspension of their campaign activities over the death of Uche Ikonne.
Prof Ikonne died on Wednesday morning at the National Hospital, Abuja.
In a statement, Ikpeazu directed that all flags in Abia state PDP offices be flown at half-mast and all campaigns suspended until January 30.
“It is with a heavy heart but total submission to the will of God that we announce the passing of our Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship candidate for the 2023 general elections, Prof Eleazar Uchenna Ikonne, which sad event took place in the early hours of today at the National Hospital, Abuja, after a brief illness,” the statement reads.
“While we condole with the family of the late Professor of Optometry, the PDP family and Abians in general, we pray God to have mercy on his soul, grant him eternal rest and give everyone affected by his unfortunate demise the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.
“As a mark of honour to our dear departed brother, I hereby direct that all flags in Abia State PDP offices be lowered and flown at half-mast while all campaign activities for the party at all levels be suspended until Monday, 30th January, 2023.
“I urge all PDP leaders and members to remain calm as we navigate through this difficult period together.”
On his part, Obi, in a statement, announced a suspension of the LP presidential campaign scheduled to hold in Abia on January 31.
“I was shocked to read the sad news of the death of Prof. Uche Ikonne, the Peoples Democratic Party’s Governorship Candidate in Abia State. I sincerely commiserate with the Abia State Governor, H.E. Okezie Ikpeazu; the PDP Family and the entire people of Abia State on this very sad development,” the LP candidate said.
“May God Almighty, who called him home grant him eternal rest in His Kingdom, and grant his immediate family, and the good people of Abia state the fortitude to bear his irreplaceable loss.
“In deference, we have postponed our Labour Party’s Presidential Rally in Abia state, earlier scheduled for 31st January to 4th February, to allow a week of mourning for the deceased.
“May God Almighty continue to protect and bless the good people of Abia State, and our nation Nigeria.”
Meanwhile, the PDP, in a statement, described Ikonne’s death as “devastating news”.
“Alas our hearts bleed; Prof. Ikonne’s death is indeed a big blow not only to the PDP family but also to Abia State and the nation in general,” the statement reads.
“He was a committed patriot, very brilliant academician, seasoned optometrist and excellent administrator, who gave himself to the service of his people and humanity, and for which the people of Abia State were resolved to elect him as Governor of Abia State.
Also, the national leadership of the PDP consoled the family of Prof. Ikonne, Governor Okezie Ikpeazu, the Abia State Chapter of the PDP as well as the entire people of Abia State and prays to God to console us all and grant eternal rest to the faithful departed.
Atiku Abubakar, the PDP presidential candidate, said he is “shocked and saddened” about the development.
“Prof Ikonne was an erudite scholar of repute with vast experience in administration, whose contributions to advancing knowledge within the academic community will be appreciated by generations unborn,” the former vice-president tweeted.
“I recall my last encounter with Prof Ikonne vividly when he led a delegation of Abia PDP stakeholders to my residence in Abuja. He, Prof Ikonne, was at his intellectual best in the course of the robust discussion that I had with his delegation.”