In line with section 84 (12) of the amended Electoral Act, no fewer than 53 commissioners and other aides of state governors have resigned in states to contest for elective positions ahead of the 2023 general elections.
This is just as ministers at the federal level including Rotimi Amaechi (Transportation), Senator Chris Ngige (Labour & Employment), Abubakar Malami (Attorney General of the Federation/ Justice) and other heads of federal agencies who are eying elective positions are yet to tender resignation.
While Amaechi has since declared for the presidency, Ngige, barring any last minute-change, will today declare for the same position. Malami, on his part, according to sources around him, is set to contest the governorship election of his home state, Kebbi.
Daily Trust reports that many heads of federal agencies have indicated interest in contesting governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives elections. The Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Safety and Administration Agency (NIMASA), Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, at the weekend commenced consultations for the Kaduna State governorship seat.
Section 84 (12) says that “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for at the convention or congress of any political party for the nomination of candidates for any election.”
The gale of defection in states, Daily Trust reports was not unconnected with the directives by state governors to that effect. The president is yet to make any statement in this direction. Buhari had written the parliament requesting that the section be deleted. The lawmakers rejected the president’s request. The matter went to the Federal High Court, Umuahia, where Justice Evelyn Anyadike voided the clause, on the ground that it violates the 1999 Constitution. Daily Trust reports that the parliament has since appealed the judgement.
‘It’s wrong for office holders to play politics’
Reacting, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage of Bayero University, Kano, opined that the ministers and other federal political appointees going ahead to campaign without resigning are “Violating the laws of the land even though they still have some few days or weeks before the ultimatum but in spite of that, it is against the law and politically wrong for somebody who is holding a position and knows the law to try to test the law by not obeying it. I think that is not right.”
Fage, a renowned political scientist, said this act has grave implications “Because leaders are supposed to lead by example otherwise they will be setting bad precedents for the country.”
He said although they may say they still have the case before a court of law, they are making a “political gamble”.
Fage believed that President Buhari made a mistake in his approach on the matter, saying the way they handled it is a little bit wrong.
On his part, an associate Professor of Political Sociology, University of Abuja, Dr Abubakar Umar Kari, said it was not a big deal that no minister has resigned.
“That no minister has resigned yet is no big deal, because my layman understanding of Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 is that political appointees are free to remain in office up to the eve of the primaries if they are desirous of partaking in the primaries either as delegates or aspirants. They are only prohibited from participating during the primaries. Therefore, there is a little time left for them,” he said.
According to the university don, the president’s appointees are emboldened by the judgement of the federal high court on the matter.
When contacted, some close allies of the ministers and other top government officials eying elective offices said there was nothing wrong in what they were doing.
“There is a marked difference between what is happening in the states and the reality at the national level…You people are just trying to push our principals out,” one of them said.
When told that there was the likelihood that their continued stay would affect governance, he said, “It is not true, the governance is not affected in any way.”
Another aide of one of the ministers said, “A court of competent jurisdiction has settled the matter, you people should wait for the outcome of the appeal.”
Resignation galore in states[
No fewer than 12 commissioners and aides of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara State have so far tendered their resignations to contest for various elective positions come 2023.
They include the Commissioner for Education and Human Capital Development, Hajia Sa’adatu Modibbo-Kawu and her counterpart in the Ministry of Enterprise, Hajia Fatimah Arinola Lawal.
Sa’adatu and Aisha, wife of former NBC boss and daughter of former governor of Kwara State respectively are both in the race for the Ilorin East/Ilorin South Federal Constituency seat in the House of Representatives.
On their part, Special Adviser to the Governor on Special Duties, Alhaji Yinka Aluko has resigned to contest the Kwara Central Senatorial seat while Dr Mohammed Abubakar, Special Assistant to the Governor on Solid Minerals Development, left the cabinet to contest the Edu seat at the Kwara State House of Assembly.
Top judiciary officials told Daily Trust that the Commissioner for Justice, Salman Jawondo (SAN) has resigned to pursue his House of Representatives ambition in Ilorin West/Asa while the Commissioner for Mining, Harriet Afolabi-Oshatimehin as well as Mr Kayode Oyin-Zubair, SSA on Community Intervention have both thrown in the towel.
Oyin-Zubair and Harriet are both seeking election into the House of Representatives seat in Ifelodun/Offa/Oyun Federal Constituency.
General Manager of the Kwara State Social Investment Programme (KWASSIP), Mohammed Brimah has reportedly resigned to join the race for the Ilorin East/Ilorin South seat in the House of Representatives and Dr Raji Razak, the state Commissioner for Health is said to be seeking election into the Irepodun/Isin/Ekiti/Oke-Ero Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives.
Alhaji Abdulateef Alakawa, Special Adviser to the governor on Politics is also eyeing the Ilorin West/Asa Federal Constituency of the state while the Commissioner for Agriculture, Sabba Yisa Gideon is reportedly contesting for the state assembly.
In Kano, at least ten commissioners have resigned their appointment to be able to pursue their individual political careers, with nine of them resigning a few hours after the 48-hours ultimatum given to them by the state Governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.
While the Commissioner for Water Resources, Sadiq Wali was the first to throw in the towel earlier in the month, nine other commissioners joined him from Sunday to Monday, which was the last day of the 48-hour ultimatum given by the governor.
Among those that recently resigned is the Deputy Governor, Nasir Gawuna, who resigned his portfolio as the Commissioner for Agriculture. Meanwhile, the Commissioner for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, Murtala Sule Garo’s resignation put paid to insinuations that he may be the most favoured to get the party’s governorship ticket. This is because of his close relationship with the governor’s wife, Hafsat Ganduje.
Although Garo is yet to officially declare for the position, the first lady had caused some ripples some months ago when she was reported to have stated at one political event that Kano State would be in good hands if Garo is to take over from her husband. However, the state government had quickly issued a statement to say the first lady’s statement should not be misconstrued as Garo’s anointment to take over from the governor because several other cabinet members, including the Deputy Governor, Nasir Gawuna and other loyalists of the governor are believed to be eyeing the highest political seat in the state.
Other cabinet members who have resigned their appointments to contest the House of Representatives election are the Commissioners for Budget and Planning, Education, Tourism, Special Duties, Rural Development, Transport and Health, Alhaji Nura Muhammed Dankade, Sanusi Said Kiru, Ibrahim Ahmad Karaye, Mukhtar Ishaq Yakasai, Iliyasu Kwankwaso, Mahmoud Muhammad Santsi and Dr. Aminu Tsanyawa respectively.
The Chief of Staff to the governor, Ali Haruna Makoda as well as a host of other political appointees have also resigned their appointments to pursue their personal political careers.
In Delta, it was reported that Ovie Agas, the Chief of Staff to the state governor, and nine commissioners have resigned their appointments.
The Commissioner for Information in the state, Charles Aniagwu, disclosed this at a press conference recently in Asaba. He said the resignation was in compliance with the provision of Section 84, subsection (12) of the Electoral Law on political appointees seeking elective positions.
Similarly, six commissioners in the cabinet of the Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel have so far resigned their position to pursue their different political ambitions.
They include the Commissioner for Economic Development and Ibom Deep Seaport, Mr Akan Okon; Dr Glory Edet, Commissioner for Agriculture; Barr Prince Akpabio, Commissioner for Trade and Investment; Mr Okpulupm Etteh, Commissioner for Special Duties and Aviation; Prof Enoh Ibanga, Commissioner for Works and Mr Umo Eno, Commissioner for Lands and Water Resources.
Governor Emmanuel has already appointed new commissioners to fill the vacant positions.
In Benue State, four commissioners resigned from office to enable them to face their 2023 political ambitions.
Also, the Chief of Staff to the Benue State Governor, Pastor Terwase Orbunde and the Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase.
The commissioners include; Information, Culture and Tourism, Mrs Ngunan Addingi; Environment and Water Resources, Engr Dondo Ahire; Education, Professor Dennis Ityavyar and that of Youth and Sports, Comrade Ojemba Ojotu.
While the former Chief of staff, Orbunde, former environment commissioner and the former education commissioner are eyeing the seat of their principal in the coming election, Addingi, who exited the information and her counterpart of Youth and Sports, Ojotu are warming up for House of Representatives in their various localities.
The former commissioners turned governorship aspirants however lost out in the ongoing consensus arrangement.
Daily Trust reports that Rivers State is not left out of the gale of resignation as the Secretary to the Rivers State Government, Dr Tammy Danagogo; the Commissioner for Finance, Isaac Kamalu; Commissioner for Sports, Hon. Boma Iyayi; Special Adviser to Governor Nyesome Wike on Special Projects, George Kelly and the Accountant General of the state, Asimilaye Fubara, have all resigned in a bid to take over Brick House in Port Harcourt.
Daily Trust reports that in Kaduna, only the Commissioner for a Budget and Planning, Mohammed Sani Abdullahi, popularly known as Dattijo has resigned his appointment to pursue his gubernatorial ambition.
Dattijo has since been replaced by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Umma Aboki, who was screened and confirmed by the Kaduna State House of Assembly last week Tuesday.
Secrecy beclouds Abiodun’s appointees’ resignation in Ogun
In Ogun State, our correspondent reports that the resignation of the cabinet members has been shrouded in secrecy.
Apart from the Commissioner for Rural Development, Taiwo Oludotun who resigned his appointment in February to join the House of Representatives race, other appointees eyeing elective positions have stayed put.
The former Special Adviser on Information, Modele Sarafa-Yusuf had equally resigned to join the governorship race against her boss, Governor Dapo Abiodun.
The Secretary to the State Government, Tokunbo Talabi, Chief of Staff, Shuaib Salis, more than 10 commissioners and the special advisers who are reportedly seeking various positions in next year’s election have not resigned.
Insiders told our correspondent that a number of them have “secretly resigned” their positions without making it public. The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Kunle Somorin told Daily Trust that he did not have records of those who have resigned from the government