The Speaker of the House of Representatives Femi Gbajabiamila has advised political appointees seeking elective positions to resign, saying their elections bid might be annulled if they refused to do so.
He made the call on Thursday while speaking to Channels Television in London on the sidelines of a paper he delivered at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House).
According to him, Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, which stipulates that political appointees should resign before seeking political offices in the next election, should be obeyed.
“There was a reason for every law. And that particular provision had a reason behind it,” the lawmaker said. “It had mischief it sought to cure and we all know what that mischief is.”
While some appointees have followed the provision, he said others “remain obstinate for want of a better word and hide under the cover that there is a court decision that has nullified that provision.
“But then, there is also a court decision that said that nullification by the court should not be executed as of yet. Then, there has also been an appeal by the National Assembly to set it aside.
“So, invariably, it is a personal decision that they have to make. Therefore, the risk they run at the end of it all is if the court does find that the National Assembly was well within its rights to make such a provision that you are contesting an election while still a political appointee, then you are on a very serious risk of having your election bid annulled”.
Recall that the All-Progressives Congress, APC had issued a 72-hour ultimatum to cabinet ministers and other government appointees wishing to contest positions in the 2023 general elections to resign or forfeit their chances.
The party in its elections guidelines for primaries, gave all appointees till Saturday, April 30 to relinquish their present appointment if they intend to participate in its forthcoming round of the party’s primary elections.
Those mainly affected by this directive include Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, his labor ministry counterpart Chris Ngige and Attorney General of the Federation, and Minister of Justice, Abubarkar Malami.
While the duo of Amaechi and Ngige are gunning for the presidential seat, Malami is eyeing governorship in his native Kebbi State.
The APC has fixed its presidential primary to hold between May 30 and June 1.
Section 3(i) of the APC Guidelines for the Nomination of Candidates bars political appointees at every level from participating in the party’s primary either as delegates or as candidates at the party’s primary elections.
The guideline directs “Any political office holder interested in contesting for an elective office” to resign 30 days to the date of the conduct of the party’s primary election for the office sought.
The guideline is in tandem with the contentious Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022 (as amended) which states that political appointees, including ministers/commissioners and special advisers, must resign in order to participate as delegates or contestants at their respective political parties’ conventions.