Chris Ngige, Nigeria’s Minister of Labour and Employment, who is seeking to contest the presidency, says he won’t resign even though his continued stay in office contradicts section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022 by remaining in office.
He added that he has not received any specific instruction from the All Progressives Congress (APC) on his ambition.
The APC had given a deadline to cabinet ministers and other executive appointees at both the states and federal levels to resign their appointments if they intend to participate in the coming primary elections to avoid any possibility of violating the provisions of the newly amended Electoral Act.
Section 3(i) of the party guidelines for the nomination of candidates for the 2023 general elections states that “No political appointee at any level shall be a voting delegate or be voted for the purpose of the nomination of candidates.
“Any political office holder interested in contesting for an elective office shall leave Office 30 days prior to the date of election or party primary for the office sought.”
However, speaking to some journalists after the week’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, Ngige denied knowledge of the APC directives that all appointees should resign ahead of the May 30 presidential primary.
Ngige, a member of President Muhammadu Buhari’s cabinet, maintained that his decision to stay on as a member of the Federal Executive Council is in line with the 1999 Constitution, as amended, adding that the March 18 judgement of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, struck out Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act.
Asked when he will resign in line with his party directives, Ngige said, “Because I don’t know about that I’m hearing for the first time from you. But like I always say, I’ll be guided by the letters and spirit of the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“You are pushing me into something that is not necessary to discuss because that aspect of the law, enacted by the National Assembly, via the Electoral Act, that section 84(12) has been struck down by a court of law and the cases are on appeal.
“And for now, no matter how bad the judgement is, that’s the maximum jurisprudence, no matter how bad the law is, it is a judgement of court, it should be obeyed, until upturned or stayed.
“But there is no stay, there’s no atonement of that particular pronouncement, and the party is on appeal. So, the judgement is still subsisting, that aspect of the law was injurious to some persons and should not have been there.
“I also know that the Constitution of Federal Republic of Nigeria in certain sections, section 107, 137 and 88, prescribes disqualification clauses for people who are going for election and that prescription is supreme because it’s in the Constitution and the Constitution is grand-norm of all laws.”
Pressed further that his party has asked all appointees in his cadre to resign, he said, “No, it’s not there. It’s not in the works at all. But I will make some consultation with the party, I will find out.”
When reminded that the same party is aware that the judgment of court has not been vacated, Ngige added, “I have not seen that pronouncement from the party. I have not seen any release from the party. It has not been conveyed to me or to anybody. I’m an aspirant, I’m a presidential aspirant, so I’ll find out and if it is true, I will then know what to do.”