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.
It was learnt 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, 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.
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”.