Politics

2023: Why I Won’t Resign As Minister – Ngige

Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige

The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, has said the leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has not informed him of the guidelines asking all political appointees to resign before the presidential primary election.

The APC has given a deadline to cabinet ministers and other executive appointees at both the states and federal levels to resign their appointments if they intend to participate in the coming primary elections to avoid any possibility of violating the provisions of the newly amended Electoral Act.

Section 3(i) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Elections states that “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.”

As a result of this, Ngige, the Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, and the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, who have shown serious commitment to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari now have till April 30 to leave their offices.

The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, said to be nursing governorship ambition in Kebbi State as well as other political appointees at State level will have to follow suit.

Already, the APC special presidential convention is scheduled to hold from Monday, May 30, to Wednesday, June 1.

Before the release of the APC guidelines, Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) has provided that “No political appointee at any level shall be voting delegate or be voted for at the Convention or Congress of any political party for the purpose of the nomination of candidates for any election.”

Section 3(i) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates for the 2023 General Elections states that “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for the purpose of the nomination of candidates.

Going by the electoral timetable released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), political parties have till June 3 to file their nominations for the general election.

Ngige, while responding to questions from State House reporters on Wednesday, said he would be guided by the provisions of the Nigerian Constitution.

The APC has given a deadline to cabinet ministers and other executive appointees at both the states and federal levels to resign their appointments if they intend to participate in the coming primary elections to avoid any possibility of violating the provisions of the newly amended Electoral Act.

He said, “Because I don’t know about that I’m hearing for the first time from you. But like I always say, I’ll be guided by the letters and spirit of the constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria. You are pushing me into something that is not necessary to discuss, because that aspect of the law enacted by the National Assembly, via the Electoral Act, that section 84:12 have been struck down by a court of law and the cases on appeal.

So, the judgement is still subsisting, that aspect of the law was injurious to some persons and should not have been there. I also know that the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria in certain sections, section 107, 137 and 88, prescribes disqualification clauses for people who are going for election and that prescription is supreme, because it’s in the constitution and the constitution is grandnorm of all laws.”

When told that there was a call on those in his cadre to resign, Ngige said: “No, it’s not there. It’s not in the works at all. But I will make consultation with the party and find out.”

Asked if the APC which is aware of the judgment in court is still asking members aspiring for offices to quit before the deadline, the minister replied: “I have not seen that pronouncement from the party. I have not seen any release from the party. It has not been conveyed to me or to anybody. I’m an aspirant, I’m a presidential aspirant. So, I’ll find out and if it is true, I would know what to do.”

Asked about his take on the views of some Nigerians that the N100 million fee to buy presidential forms was “outrageous”, he said: “Well, that is the people’s views. I had said earlier that I made a budget for N50 million, and is now N100 million.

So, I have discussed with my supporters, and they are raising the money to augment whatever is before now. So, when they finish augmentation, I believe that we’ll get up to N100 million so that we can purchase our form.”

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