Pressure appears to be mounting on Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi to resign following his last weekend’s formal declaration for the 2023 presidential race.
His party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), declared Friday that all its members currently holding political appointments in President Muhammadu Buhari government and seeking participation in the party’s forthcoming primaries must quit their positions in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act.
Section 84 (12) of the Act stipulates that political appointees, including ministers/commissioners and special advisers, should quit to be eligible to participate either as delegates or contestants at the convention of their political parties.
Many of such appointees at the state level have resigned accordingly with the June 3 cut-off date set by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) for the parties to complete their primaries fast approaching.
The APC National Publicity Secretary, Felix Morka, told The Nation yesterday that the party would ensure that all political appointees in APC wishing to contest the 2023 elections comply with Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act.
Amaechi is the only member of the federal cabinet who has publicly declared his interest in the APC presidential primaries so far. He is yet to resign a week after his declaration.
There are also speculations about the presidential ambitions of Labour and Productivity Minister Chris Nigige and Niger Delta Affairs Minister Godswill Akpabio as well as the governorship aspirations of Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister Abubakar Malami and Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba.
“The position of the party is consistent with the Electoral Act. We are allowing our affected members who may have the intention of contesting the primaries to comply with the Electoral Act as provided,” Morka said on Friday.
He added: “The party will simply follow the Electoral Act. Any member of the party who is in an appointive position, we will expect such individual to resign before our primaries.
“We are hopeful that they will comply at the right time and we are going to ensure that anyone seeking our ticket will not breach the Electoral Act.”
Asked how soon those appointees were expected to turn in their letters, Morka said: “The Electoral Act however does not stipulate the time frame by which individuals should resign their appointments before the primary. But we shall ensure the party complies with the law.”
In signing the Electoral Act last month, President Muhammadu Buhari said Section 84 (12) was in conflict with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution and asked the National Assembly to amend the Act appropriately.
He followed it up with a letter to the two chambers of the National Assembly to do the needful.
The legislators, however, declined to do the President’s bidding and have even gone to court to appeal against the ruling of a Federal High Court, Umuahia, which recently voided the controversial section and asked the Attorney General of the Federation to expunge it from the Act.
The issue of resignation of political appointees is expected to be discussed during the maiden post- convention of the APC scheduled for Abuja on Wednesday, April 20.
The party, in the notice of the meeting, said: “Pursuant to Article 25.2.ii of the Constitution of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the National Working Committee (NWC) hereby invites members of the National Executive Committee (NEC) of our great party to a meeting to consider the Party’s Timetable/Schedule of Activities for Primaries for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 General Elections and other relevant business of the Party.
“All members of the NEC are by this invitation to take notice of the meeting in accordance with Article 12.3 of the APC Constitution, please,” the official notice/invitation for the NEC meeting stated.