Yesterday’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting was the last for ambitious ministers scrambling for the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
The curtain has been drawn on their ministerial tenure. Power is transient and no condition is permanent.
To other contenders who are not ministers, the directive is a leveller.
Campaigning from an advantageous position is now illusory. It was a bombshell.
The ministers were caught unaware. It is a unique baseline for resolving a moral and ethical question.
As experienced politicians, they ought to know when to quit in a blaze of glory.
But, many political actors in Nigeria are opportunists. They prefer to hold on to power, never willing to leave when the ovation is loud.
A precedent has now been set. In the future, ministers of government will take a cue.
They will not portray the president as a weak leader who cannot whip into line.
They will embrace the fact of limitation to ministerial covetousness, impunity and lack of restraint.
After accepting the resignation of Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba, a presidential aspirant from Imo State, President Muhammadu Buhari advised other ‘sit-tight’ ministers to quit so that they can pursue their aspirations.
It was not mere advice, but a non-negotiable directive.
The order, according to observers, even came late. But, it is salutary. Following the release of guidelines for party nominations, governors have directed their commissioners, special advisers, other aides and appointees who wanted to vie for elective positions to tender their resignation.
They promptly complied to avoid being sacked.
President Buhari hailed Nwajiuba’s courage, urging his colleagues to emulate his good example.
The President’s remark about courage meant that he was not pleased with the consequential dereliction of duties, likely impairment of project implementation and gross indecision by other ministers.
Having unfolded their bid for the highest office, they have become absentee ministers.
What has occupied their minds is the party ticket. They are distracted by antagonistic pursuits. The divided attention portents serious conflicts.
It also has implications for governance in the last year of the administration when Nigerians, who are generally not impressed by the government’s scorecard, expect the ministers to double their efforts.
Apart from Nwajiuba, nine other ministers – Abubakar Malami (Attorney-General and Justice and Kebbi governorship aspirant), Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Timpreye Sylva (Minister of State for Petroleum), Chris Ngige (Employment and Labour), and Ogbonnaya Onu (Science and Technology), Pauline Tallen (Women Affairs), Uche Ogah (Minister of State for Mines and Steel) and Tayo Alasoadura (Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs) – are expected to bid the federal cabinet farewell, if they submit their nomination forms.
Tallen and Alasoadura are eyeing senatorial tickets in Plateau and Ondo states. Ogah is bidding for governor in Abia.
Some hours after the quit notice, Akpabio and Onu signalled their intention to leave. Feelers suggest that Amaechi is clearing his desk.
It is an era of reluctant resignation.
There is glaring evidence of derailment. Some of the minister-aspirants have been traversing the length and breadth of the federation.
It is very tasking, energy sapping and time-consuming. They can hardly attend to cabinet schedules.
They are making use of their ministries’ facilities to campaign in the course of targeting delegates. It is nothing short of tacit abuse of privilege.
If their activities are not checked, they may also be tempted to deploy other vital government resources and funds to fester their nets.
The general complaint is that the ministers want to ‘eat their cake and have it.’
It is a clear violation of the pre-existing tradition of voluntary resignation on conditions of honour and beauty, a rare act of decorum, which has demarcated the present dispensation from the earlier saner period.
Vacancies now exist in FEC.
After handing over to their permanent secretaries, their colleagues in the contiguous ministries may be asked to oversee the vacant ministries until fresh ministerial nominations are placed before the Senate for screening.
Until yesterday, some of the ministers were holding on to constitutional loopholes, claiming that a Federal High Court in Umuahia had nullified Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, which mandated them to resign before joining the fray.
According to the clause, political appointees are barred from voting or being voted for at a party convention or congress for the purpose of nominating candidates for the election.
Rejecting the pressure on them to leave, the minister said in accordance with the 1999 Constitution, they, as public officers, can only resign one month before the election.
Although the constitutional puzzle has not been resolved, the affected ministers cannot disobey the directive of the Commander-In-Chief.
The order is not restricted to ministers.
Other political appointees, including Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele, are bound to relinquish their positions.
The apex bank’s head has been swimming in controversy in the past few months. Some people have been drawing support for his ambition.
Although he had dissociated himself from a group that obtained the form for him, he has approached the court for a novel constitutional interpretation. This is necessary to ascertain whether he can join the race and participate in the proposed primary while still keeping his job as governor.
To analysts, it smacked of deception because party officials have clarified that forms were issued, even by proxy, to only registered party members.
Public confidence shook, following the outcry by opposition politicians that next year’s election may be compromised because the governor of the Central Bank, which normally takes custody of polling materials, is now identifiable with the ruling party.
But, Emefiele’s alleged involvement in politics is still in the realm of speculation. The CBN governor has not spoken out. There is no authentic confirmation.
As they bow out, the outgoing ministers will be on the weighing scale. Their ministerial tenure will be scrutinised as the basis for their fitness for their next point of call. They need to render accounts.
The prospect of undue advantage ahead of the intra-party shadow poll will diminish.
The only solace is the preservation of their status as statutory delegates if they had previously served as governors, deputy governors and legislators.
If they fail at the primary and the President feels like reappointing them as ministers, they will face the inevitability of screening by the Senate.
President Buhari may be slow in acting in such matters relating to the conflict between his ministers’ ambitions and governance. But, he has acted now.
It is better late than never.
National6 days ago
Trouble in Rivers as EFCC Intensifies Search for Wanted State Accountant, Fubara Siminayi, 3 Others
News7 days ago
Gbenga Adeboye’s Death Not Natural – Sister
Crime6 days ago
N80b Fraud: How Accountant-General, Idris Made Money From Controversial Platform, IPPIS, Deducted Salaries Of Thousands Of Workers – Farooq Kperogi
Politics6 days ago
BREAKING: 2023: Catholic Church Suspends Rev. Father After Joining APC, Declaring For Benue Governorship
Breaking News2 days ago
EXCLUSIVE: Peter Obi dumps PDP, pulls out of presidential primaries
Politics5 days ago
Drama, clashes, upsets at PDP Reps, Assembly primaries
Politics4 days ago
2023: Wike’s Deputy, 2 Others Emerge PDP Senatorial Candidates
Breaking News4 days ago
BREAKING: Gov Wike dissolves cabinet