Barring any last change of mind, ministers who backed down from their much touted political ambitions on the All Progressives Congress (APC) platform may not return as members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC).
Similarly, some others who just dropped their resignation following President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive that they quit latest Monday (yesterday), may have also lost out to the party guidelines which gives 30 clear days for resignation before the party primaries.
Following Buhari’s directive, Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubaka Malami, SAN, Minister of Women Affairs Dame Paulen Tallen and Minister of State Petroleum Timpre Sylva, all made a U-turn on their various political ambitions.While Malami and Tallen were eyeing governorship and senatorial ambitions in Kebbi and Plateau states respectively, Ngige and Sylva aspired to be president, all on the APC platform.
At different times, the ministers said they were dropping their ambitions to continue in office, a decision Blueprint gathered, may not work out.
A top presidency source told this medium that “It is all over for them after the president hosted all the ministers seeking one elective office or the other to a valedictory session. As at Friday, the president has said and declared there is no going back. The ministers are gone for good and won’t continue in office.”
“Besides, the president doesn’t want to be seen as condoning impunity from cabinet members. It is surprising that they could announce their withdrawal from the race all because the president asked them to resign. The thinking out there was that they would contest for the various positions as sitting ministers. Neither the party’s guideline nor the Electoral Act allows for that,” said another source familiar with the development.
Blueprint further gathered that “a governor is already working on a replacement for his minister who is affected under this arrangement.”
On 30-day notice of resignation
On the fate of Minister of Transport Rotimi Amaechi; Minister of Niger Delta Affairs Godswill Akpabio, and Minister of Science, Innovation and Technology Ogbonnaya Onu who reigned their appointments after the presidential order, the party’s guidelines may have shut them out.
They resigned about two weeks to the party primaries, a decision that clearly negates the party guidelines.
Section 3(i) of the APC’s 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.”
Party sources told Blueprint that the clause as well as the controversial Section 84(12) of Electoral Act 2022 which also makes it mandatory for elective office seeker to resign 30 days before primaries, may have forced the aspirants to back out.
Of the ministers with presidential aspiration, only Emeka Nwajiuba complied with both the party guidelines and provision of the Electoral Act.
He was said to have resigned 28th April, exactly 30 days to the May 28/30 date for the party’s primaries.
However, some of the appointees seeking elective offices did not beat the 30-day deadline but remained in their offices.
Electoral Act 2022
Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act has similar provision which the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) may wield to apply the sledge hammer on defaulting aspirants, depending on the outcome of the litigation which has crossed the appellate court and now awaits the Supreme Court’s decision.
Tallen pushes on
While AGF Malami withdrew Saturday from his governorship ambition without any reason, Tallen dumped her ambition to contest for the Plateau South Senatorial District of Plateau state Monday following the presidential directive.
She relied on the party’s guidelines which gives 30 days to aspirants wishing to seek an elective office to resign their appointments.
Women groups and other stakeholders had purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms of the APC for the minister.
In a signed statement made available in Abuja Monday, Tallen stated that following the APC’s guidelines, “it will therefore be a breach to resign office at this time since this was not done ahead of the stipulated timeline.”
She noted that “Nigeria is at a crucial point in history with women’s participation at the lowest ebb with just 6.7% at the Parliament.”
The minister said she was more committed to seeing a better picture with Nigeria taking its rightful place as the true giant of Africa, and therefore have taken an informed perspective to support more women across all political spheres at this time.
“I would like to thank and assure all my supporters that while their intention was well conceived, my current work in superintending the numerous projects for Mr President as Women affairs Minister require my undivided attention.
“Additionally, whilst their quest is a good move in support of the clamour for more Women in elective and appointive positions, and considered to be critical in addressing the Gender question, I am compelled to focus on the foundations we have laid towards the advancement and realisation of gender equality in leadership positions in the country,” she said.
“I remain resolute as I continue to relish the opportunity to serve Nigerian Women in my capacity as Minister of Women Affairs under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR. Consequently, I wish to inform you all that following broad-based consultations and interventions from critical stakeholders, I have decided to withdraw from running for the senatorial seat mindful of our accomplishments and the notable progress we have recorded under my stewardship at the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs.
“I have decided to voluntarily step down from the Senatorial race sequel to the yearnings of Women and other well meaning Nigerians who see the need for a strong voice for Women at the Senate having consulted widely with my family, well-wishers and supporters conscious of the role I play for Women in Nigeria today! So to all Nigerian Women and young girls who have raised concerns as to what next, rest assured that I, Dame Pauline K. Tallen, OFR, KSG have not submitted any resignation letter and therefore, it is my decision not to go ahead with this request but carry on as the Minister of Women Affairs,” the minister further added.
She noted that “Nigeria has a long standing commitment in overcoming the challenges that inhibit Women from bringing about positive changes and the requisite impacts when given a place at the table of decision making, adding that her appointment as the Minister of Women Affairs is indicative of this progress and therefore she cannot lose sight of this opportunity.”
She added that “the quest for gender equality and broadening access to enable Women to participate meaningfully in nation building, is at the heart of her desire to unlock the potentials of women to bring about positive change in the history of Nigeria, adding that the values upon which this success rests is most critical, if appreciable, progress is to be made in fulfilling our well conceived gender agenda.
“As we celebrate our modest achievements, we are also conscious of the opportunities and achievements yet to be harnessed for Nigerian Women under this administration. As a humble servant of Nigerian Women, I am overwhelmed by the hard work, courage, patriotism and loyalty displayed by Women and I remain resolute to ride on these foundations to enable us build solid structures to yield strategic progress to add through our history.”