Even after President Muhammadu Buhari held a valedictory session on Friday for 10 ministers who had declared interest in elective offices, some of them are still scheming to hang on to their offices, -‘ can authoritatively report.
The president held the session for ministers who had picked the expression of interest and nomination forms to participate in the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the outgoing ministers that attended the session were Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Chris Ngige (Labour and Employment), Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta Affairs), Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technological Innovation), Timipre Sylva State for Petroleum Resources), Tayo Alasoadura (State for Niger Delta Affairs), Pauline Tallen (Women Affairs), Uche Ogar (State for Mines and Steel Development), Abubakar Malami (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice) and Emeka Nwajuba (State for Education), who was absent but with a permission.
At the time of that event, only three of the ministers had submitted their letters of resignation.
Six of the ministers had declared interest in the presidential race, two in governorship races and two in senatorial races.
However, hours after the valedictory session, Mr Ngige issued a statement to announce his withdrawal from the presidential race and his intention to remain in his position as Minister of Labour and Employment.
In the letter, Mr Ngige said: “Today, 13th May, 2022, I had an audience with the President, Muhammadu Buhari as a follow up to the one I earlier had with him on 11th May, 2022.
“Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.
“As a result of this, will NOT be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary. took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the Government, whether the difficult last lap, in the life of the administration and secondly for other family reasons.
“I have since communicated this decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.”
Also, Mr Malami, who earlier on Friday had tweeted that he had submitted his resignation letter, later deleted the tweet, sparking speculations that he had withdrawn the letter.
Sources at the presidency disclosed that nine of the ministers were hoping to hang on to their positions, until the president dropped the bombshell directing them to resign by Monday.
According to the sources, the president was aware of their reluctance to leave and had for over a week blocked them from seeing him. The sources all asked not to be identified because of the sensitive nature of the issue.
“It is unlikely that the president will allow them back, not even Ngige who has issued a public statement on his withdrawal from the presidential race,” one of the sources said, adding, “They are just wasting their time.
“The president knew they wanted to have their cake and eat it so he waited for them to commit themselves by picking the nomination forms.
“The president initially gave them until Monday to resign but shocked them again by summoning them to the valedictory session on Friday, even though only a few of them had submitted their resignation letters by then.”
According to the sources, the president invited only the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, to the ceremony, apart from the departing ministers.
At the valedictory session on Friday, Mr Buhari said he would be quick in appointing replacements for the departing ministers who he wished good luck in their political ambitions.
As of Friday night, sources said Mr Malami had not turned in his letter of resignation, even though he is considered favourite to pick the APC governorship ticket in Kebbi.
The former minister ignited consternation across the country after it was reported that he donated 30 Mercedes and Toyota Prado SUVs to APC officials and statutory delegates in the state.
Mr Malami had been pursuing the removal of Section 64(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires political appointees to resign before they can participate as delegates or candidates in party primaries.
After a high court in Umuahia, Abia State declared the section unconstitutional, Mr Malami said he would immediately expunge it before gazzetting the Act.
However, the National Assembly appealled the judgement, following which the Court of Appeal nullified it, although it also agreed that the section is unconstitutional.