Buhari bows to pressure over Ministers, Nwajiuba, Onu, Akpabio tender resignation, Malami, Ngige retain seats

By AdvocateNews on 12/05/2022

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President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari

There are strong indications that members of the Federal Executive Council who have declared their intention to contest the 2023 presidential election may appear before the All Progressives Congress screening committee with copies their letters of resignation and acknowledgement.

Party sources stated that this might form part of the additional stipulations the aspirants were expected to comply with.

The development was sequel to the directive by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday, that all members of his cabinet vying for elective offices must step down on or  before Monday.

Buhari on Wednesday finally bowed to pressure when he called the ministers to resign following persistent calls by eminent lawyers and other Nigerians, who argued that their continued stay in office amounted to a conflict of interest.

The order came at the end of the Federal Executive Council meeting which he presided over at the Council Chambers of the State House, Abuja.

But an APC chieftain said that the aspirants might be asked to produce their letters of resignation and acknowledgement copies during their screening.

He said several appointees and aides had been rushing to the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation to submit letters of resignation and collect acknowledgement letters.

The chieftain, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “From all indications, the party will ask appointees to come with resignation letters and letters of acknowledgement. All those who refuse to resign will just be setting themselves up for disqualification.

“At this point, it will be safe for anyone who is an appointee to just resign whether you are a minister or not. I am sure the APC will be issuing a statement anytime from now on the matter.”

The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, could not be reached for comment on Wednesday, as he refused to attend to one of our correspondents who visited his office to clarify the issue.

The Minister of information, Lai Mohammed, who disclosed the presidential directive to the cabinet members shortly after the FEC meeting, however, said he could not speak on the fate of other political appointees who were also vying for positions but were non-cabinet members.

Buhari’s directive came after he received the resignation letter of the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who had tendered it on Tuesday.

Buhari was said to have commended Nwajiuba and asked other cabinet members to follow suit and resign immediately.

However, the immediate resignation order was modified to Monday by the Information Minister who met the President privately to clarify the deadline.

Cabinet members affected include the Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio; Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.

Others include the Minister of State  Mines and Steel, Uche Ogar, who is contesting for the Abia State APC governorship ticket, and the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, who declared her intention to contest for the senatorial seat in Plateau State.Also affected is the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, SAN, who is running for the governorship of Kebbi State.

Announcing Buhari’s directive, Mohammed said,  “The mandate I have from the President is to announce that all members of the Federal Executive Council contesting for elective office must resign their ministerial cabinet appointments on or before Monday, May 16, 2022.”

 When asked if the directive affected the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who is vying for the Presidency, the Information Minister, said “the Vice President was elected, he was not appointed.”

On the fate of other political appointees, non-cabinet members who are also contesting but have not resigned, Mohammed said the directive might be extended to them.

He explained, “As of this moment, the mandate I have is for members of the Federal Executive Council. Subsequently, it might affect other political appointees but that will be made known.

“If there is going to be any amendment or any inclusion, you will be informed in due course,” he said.

Nonetheless, a top source within the presidency revealed that a circular might be issued within the next 24 hours from the Office of the Secretary to Government of the Federation, directing all other political appointees in the various electoral races to resign.

At the time of Buhari’s announcement, only Malami, Onu and Ogar were the affected ministers contesting for electoral offices physically present at the council meeting while the rest joined virtually.

A few hours after the directive, the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, and Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta) tendered their resignation letters to the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.

Onu, who on May 6 declared for the presidency under the ruling party, was said to have visited the SGF office where he dropped his letter around 5 pm.

The Niger Delta minister, in a statement by his media aide, Jackson Udom, stated, “Our attention has been drawn to mischievously written news stories making the rounds by paid agents of some politicians, that the leading presidential aspirant, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has purportedly withdrawn from the presidential race. This is a joke carried too far.

 “This is certainly the handiwork of those who are scared of contesting against Senator Godswill Akpabio.

“Senator Akpabio has resigned his appointment as Minister, Niger Delta Affairs Ministry and will soon submit his nomination form at the International Conference Centre, Abuja, in line with his party’s guidelines”, the statement by Udom said.

On his part,  the media aide to the AGF, Jibrilu Gwandu, kept mum on the resignation plans of his principal, when contacted.

It was gathered that Nwajiuba submitted his resignation letter on April 28, 2022, after accepting to run for the presidency under the APC.

“The President actually approved of his resignation upon resumption from the Eid break May 3rd before he travelled to Abidjan. The minister continued his work since the president has not announced his resignation officially as protocol demands. The President announced his resignation today (Wednesday) at FEC before giving the order,” the source added.

An official said other cabinet members were expected to present their resignation letters in the next few days and ahead of the APC candidates screening starting May 13 with the screening of the House of Assembly aspirants.

According to a new timetable released by Suleiman Argungu, the National Organising Secretary of the party, screening for presidential, governorship, Senate and House of Representatives aspirants will take place on May 14. 

Posted 12/05/2022 06:22:02 AM


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