Twenty-four hours after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered top government employees seeking political offices to resign, Central Bank of Nigerian (CBN) Governor Godwin Emefiele, visited him at Aso Villa yesterday.
Details of the meeting were unavailable, but Emefiele told reporters to expect “news”, adding that he was “having fun” with speculations around his purported bid for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential ticket.
“There is no news now, but there will be news. You heard me, I said there is no news, but there will be news,” he said.
When reminded that given the office he holds, his ambition is creating anxiety among Nigerians and the international community, Emefiele quipped that he was having fun with the situation.
He said: “Let them have a heart attack. It’s good to have a heart attack. I am having a lot of fun.”
Posters and vehicles branded with his face are in town.
A group also purchased the APC nomination and expression of interest forms on his behalf.
Emefiele has, however, disowned the group, claiming it was done without his consent.
But, he went to court for constitutional interpretation of his continuous stay in office while bidding for the ticket.
Wednesday’s presidential directive has put paid to any doubt on whether appointees eyeing political offices should exit.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha, clarified the resignation directive by the President in a circular dated May 11.
The circular explained that the Presidential order is not limited to the members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) but all ministries, departments and agencies.
Foreign Services and Extra-ministerial offices are also affected.
The circular reads in part: “Mr. President has observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, heads of extra-ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies elections.
“Consequently, Mr. President has directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 General Elections, should tender their resignation on or before Monday, the 16th of May, 2022.
“For the avoidance of doubt, this directive affects all ministers, heads and members of extra-ministerial departments, agencies and parastatals of government, ambassadors as well as other political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices.
“For smooth running of the machinery of government and our foreign missions, affected ministers are to hand over to Ministers of State where they exist or to the Permanent Secretary, where there is no Minister of State.
“Ambassadors shall hand over to their Deputy Heads of Mission or the most Senior Foreign Service Officer in line with established practices.
“Similarly, Heads of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Agencies and Parastatals are to hand over to the most senior Director/Officer as may be peculiar to the organisation, in line with the service wide Circular No. SGF.50/S. Il/C.2/268 of 4th December 2017.
“The contents of this circular and the incidental directives take effect immediately.”
Emefiele was copied with the circular.
Also yesterday, three federal appointees with political ambitions filed a suit at the Federal High Court in Abuja to challenge Section 84(11) & (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 which requires them to resign.
They sued the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The plaintiffs are Sodique Baba Abubakar, Sodique Lawal Abubakar and Bindir Umar Buba.
Baba said he is Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Chad and intends to contest for Bauchi Governor.
Lawal said he is a Special Assistant in the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and intends to contest for the House of Representatives.
Buba, who is also eyeing a seat in the House of Representatives, said he is the National Coordinator, Social Investment Programme in the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs.
In the suit numbered FHC/ABJ/CS/641/2022, filed by their lawyer, Adeniyi Akintola (SAN), the plaintiffs are praying for an order declaring the APC’s directive that political appointees should resign based on Section 84 (11) and (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is unconditional and therefore null and void.
The APC members are contending that the section is discriminatory and unconstitutional and therefore should not be a basis to disqualify them.
They stated, in a supporting affidavit, that they had obtained expression of interest forms to contest in the APC primaries.
The plaintiffs stated that pursuant to the signing of the Electoral Act into law, there had been threats that political appointees would be disqualified from contesting APC primaries because of Section 84 (11) and (12).
They added that sections 65, 66, 107, 131, 137, 177 and 182 of the 1999 Constitution cover the qualification requirements of political aspirants.
The plaintiffs claim that Article 2 of the APC Constitution affirms the supremacy of the Constitution but the party breached it with its May 7 directive that all political appointees must resign 30 days before the primaries.
They stated that the section is at the moment standing in their way to achieving their political ambitions.
According to the plaintiffs, unless the defendants are restrained, APC and INEC will prevent them from participating in the primaries.
The plaintiffs want the court to declare as unconstitutional, illegal and unlawful the APC’s directive that political appointees must resign from their positions before they can participate as voting delegates or be voted for in the convention or primaries.
They also want an injunction restraining the APC and INEC, either by themselves or agents from preventing, hindering or stopping them from attending or participating in the party’s congress, convention or primaries for the purpose of voting or being voted for as candidates.
CNPP, ZLP hail Buhari on resignation directive
The Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) and the National Chairman of Zenith Labour Party (ZLP) Chief Dan Nwanyanwu praised President Buhari for issuing the resignation directive.
CNPP, in a statement signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, said the directive was “very timely” as the appointees “will not be able to concentrate on the job of governance”.
Chief Nwanyanwu said: “This decision is supported by morality and conscience.”