All members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC), heads of agencies, departments, parastatals, and ambassadors who picked up presidential nomination forms of the ruling All Progressives Congress were sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari but only given a deadline to save face, SaharaReporters has gathered.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Wednesday directed all top government officials with the ambition to contest for political offices to resign before May 16.
Sources in the Presidency told SaharaReporters on Thursday that even if the affected office holders gunning for the Presidency drop their political ambition, their ‘sacking’ remains as Buhari insisted that all those who got nomination forms must go.
“Even if they say they want to withdraw and won’t be contesting again, the President’s directive is that they must go, which is why it is actually sacking. All those who got forms must go, for you to have got a nomination form, then you have an ambition,” a source said.
“President Buhari’s directive is more like sacking; all the ministers and appointees who have purchased forms have no option but to leave even if they are withdrawing from the race. They were given the deadline to save face so as not to look like they were humiliated.
“They only have the grace till May 16. They can’t bail out of it by withdrawing. It’s like when a company asks a worker to voluntarily resign, the directive is tantamount to sacking,” another source said.
At least four ministers have already resigned over their presidential ambition, including the Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, whose resignation came before Buhari’s directive on Wednesday.
Ministers of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi; Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige; Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu tendered their resignations after Buhari’s directive.
Other affected ministers to leave office by May 16 are the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who is gunning for the Presidency and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami, who wants to contest for Kebbi governorship.
Running for the governorship position in Abia State is the Minister of State Mines and Steel, Uche Ogar while the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen has also declared her ambition to contest for the senatorial seat in Plateau State.
Also affected is Godwin Emefiele, governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), who is also eyeing the Presidency.
Buttressing the Presidency’s position, presidential aide, Garba Shehu, while featuring on a Channels TV programme on Thursday, monitored by SaharaReporters, said the directive of the President must be obeyed.
He, however, noted that the President would hold a farewell meeting with the departing ministers on Friday at 10 am.
“He made no reference to section 84, he simply gave the directive and I think it’s clear that as the head of the executive arm of government, he owns the executive authority and power to decide,” Shehu said.
He also said the ministers seeking to have a consultation with President Buhari before resigning will be able to do so on Friday, but that the directive still stands.
Speaking on the presidential ambition of the governor of the Central Bank, Emefiele, Shehu said the directive is clear and that it is left to Emefiele to determine what applies to him.
“Does he consider himself the head of an agency or parastatal or consider himself a member of the ministerial department? I expect that he and his loyalists will determine what is applicable for them,” he said.
A circular obtained by SaharaReporters on Thursday morning shows that the office of the Governor of the CBN, Emefiele, among other agencies was copied.
The circular was signed by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
The circular with reference number SGF/OP/ I/S.3/XII/ 173 was titled, ‘Ministers, heads of government agencies, ambassadors and other appointees with political ambitions to resign’.
It reads, “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 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 our before the 16th of May, 2022.”
It stressed that for the avoidance of doubt, the directive affects “all ministers, Heads and Members of Extra-Ministerial Departments, Agencies, Parastatals of Government, Ambassadors as well as political appointees who desire to contest for elective offices”.
Following reports that Emefiele is also eyeing the Presidency in 2023, which SaharaReporters had broken months ago, many Nigerians have called for his resignation or sacking, saying it is unethical for the Central Bank Governor to be pursuing a political ambition while remaining in office as the head of the apex bank.
SaharaReporters on Wednesday reported that President Buhari asked all members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) contesting elective positions in 2023 to resign.
They were asked to submit their letters of resignation on or before Monday the 16th of May, 2022.
According to the Minister of Information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, the order excludes the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo because he is an elected member of the cabinet.