2023: Why Labour Minister withdrew from presidential race

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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,” were the words with which Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige, abandoned his earlier interest in clinching Nigeria’s first job, after the exit of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023.

The Minister, who pulled out of the 2023 presidential race to retain his ministerial seat, had earlier promised to return to his constituency for consultation and meet with, President Muhammadu Buhari, who had on Wednesday, at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting ordered cabinet members eyeing elective offices to resign, latest by Monday, May 16, a development, which put paid to the position of many of them that they were covered by the Constitution, which gave them a window to resign only 30 days to election.

Buhari’s order came a few hours after a Court of Appeal, sitting in Abuja, had thrown out the judgement of an Umuahia Federal High Court, which had declared the provision of section 84 (12) of the newly amended electoral act, directing political appointees to resign six months before an electiong to be eligible to vote or be voted for.

Giving reasons for his decision, Ngige said: “On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, I publicly declared my interest to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the constitutional provision that precludes our amiable incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari from seeking re-election to the office, as he would have completed his two terms in office by 29th May 2023.

“The declaration was made in my home town, Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.

“Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/Nomination Forms of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for me. The forms however are yet to be filled and submitted. 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, I will not be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary. I 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, and secondly for other family reasons.

“I have since communicated this decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest or personal or otherwise.”