- Only Nwajiuba met the 30-day requirement for resignation from office
Unless there is an amendment to its guidelines or shift in the dates of the primary elections for the All Progressive Congress (APC), most political appointees serving under President Muhammadu Buhari are ineligible to contest any of the elective positions under the 2023 elections as party rules stipulate they resign 30 days before the primary election or convention date.
Specifically, Section 3(i) of the APC final guidelines for the conduct of primaries, states: “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for the purpose of the nomination of candidates. Any political office holder interested in contesting for an elective office shall leave office 30 days prior to the date of election or party primary for the office sought.”
But interestingly, of all the appointees, only Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, adhered to the stipulated rule, resigning from office on April 28, 2022, one day after his political group, Project Nigeria, presented him with the Presidential nomination forms.
Altogether, nine Ministers had indicated interest in Presidential, Governorship or Senatorial elections and had the option of either resigning or dropping their ambitions.
Only two, Nwajiuba and Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta) have tendered their resignation. While the former Minister of State for Educations tendered his on April 28, Akpabio tendered his resignation in compliance with the directive of President Buhari at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting.
The Ministers who have indicated interest in contesting for Presidency include Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment), Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology) and Timipre Sylva (Petroleum Resources).
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogar are gunning for the governorship of Kebbi and Abia States respectively.
On her part, the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, had declared her ambition to contest for a Senatorial seat in Plateau State.
Also, some heads of federal government Departments and Agencies including the Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Godwin Emefiele, Director- General of the Nigerian Security Printing and Minting (NSPM), Abbas Masanawa, Director-General of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (SMEDAN), Dikko Umar Radda, among others, have indicated interest in contesting for positions.
President Buhari had on Wednesday ordered all Ministers who have indicated interest to contest election to resign on or before Monday, May 16, 2022, a date that is of no significance on the APC primary election calendar.
Sources said that the President’s appointees have been relying on the judgment of the Federal High Court, Umuahia, Abia State, which nullified section 84 (12) of the 2022 Electoral Act that barred them from participating in primaries or conventions while serving as Ministers.
However, the Court of Appeal, on Wednesday, set aside that judgment but declared Section 84 (12) unconstitutional.
But according to the timetable of the ruling party, Governorship, Senate, Federal and State Assembly primary elections to select APC candidates for the general elections will hold between May 18 and 23, meaning that appointees for such positions who did not resign at the appropriate date last month may have lost whatever was left of their chances to contest in the primaries.
An official of the party confirmed that going by the party’s guidelines, Presidential aspirants had up till the April 30, 2022 to resign their positions.
In the same vein, Governorship aspirants occupying appointive positions who had not resigned before April 18th stands ineligible to vie for the Governorship of their respective States.