Agale of resignations is sweeping through states following governors’ directives to political appointees interested in vying for offices in next year’s general election to resign.
The governors are enforcing the provision of Section 84(12) of the amended Electoral Act which stipulates that appointees such as commissioners, special advisers and others should quit to be eligible to participate either as delegates or contestants at the convention of their political parties.
This is in spite of the ongoing legal battle on that clause of the Electoral Act.
Political parties have a June 3 cut off date to complete their primaries, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines.
No less than 12 governors have asked their appointees to quit. And they have been complying.
Yesterday, eight appointees of the Ondo State government indicated interest to leave after Governor Rotimi Akeredolu issued a 48-hour ultimatum.
Two officials have resigned in Ogun State according to Commissioner for Information, Mr. Waheed Odusile.
Akeredolu’s directive, conveyed in a statement by Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Oladunni Odu, gave tomorrow as a deadline.
Names of the eight political appointees set to bow out were not made known but those who have begun subtle campaigns ahead of next year’s general election include Information Commissioner Donald Ojogo, who is eyeing the Ilaje/Ese-Odo Federal Constituency’s ticket; Special Adviser on Investment Boye Oyewumi, who is gunning for the Ondo South senatorial seat; Chairman of the State Information Technology Agency (SITA), Mr. Olumbe Akinkugbe, who has indicated an interest in the Ondo East/Ondo West Federal Constituency and Special Adviser to the Governor on Diaspora, Victor Ategbole, who is seeking to run for the Akoko Southwest/Akoko Southeast Federal Constituency.
Government sources also said some special assistants and aides to elected council chairmen might also resign.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Boss Mustapha could not be reached yesterday for clarification on when federal appointees eyeing elective political offices would be asked to quit.
Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi, who declared an interest at the weekend to succeed Presidential Muhammadu Buhari, began a nationwide consultation on Monday.
Other Federal Executive Council (FEC) members eyeing elective offices include Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami and Labour and Employment Minister Chris Ngige.
Malami is linked to interest in the governorship seat of Kebbi State.
Dr. Ngige is believed to be interested in taking a shot at the presidency.
The Secretary to the Kwara State Government (SSG), Prof Mamman Jibril, has also told appointees nursing a political ambition to resign.
In a memo, the SSG directed all those concerned to submit their resignation letters not later than Friday.
Directive expected in Osun State
it was learnt that Governor Adegboyega Oyetola may ask his aspiring political appointees to resign during the weekly State Executive Council (EXCO) meeting today.
A source said yesterday: “Governor Oyetola will be holding the weekly executive meeting with his exco member and he will give a directive in respect of 2023 general election.”
But Oyetola’s Commissioner for Intergovernmental Relation and Political Affairs Taiwo Akeju said: “The governor has not issued any directive to political appointees to resign.”
In Akwa Ibom, Governor Udom Emmanuel has directed aspiring appointees in his government to resign. A source in the Government House, Uyo, confirmed yesterday.
The Commissioner for information and Strategy, Iniobong Ememobong, however, said he was not aware of such a directive.
“I am not aware the governor issued the directive for his exco members with political aspirations to resign their appointments,” he told our reporter.
However, the source, who pleaded not to be named, said the governor during one of the weekly EXCO meetings in February, asked cabinet members with aspirations to resign.
So far, five commissioners have tendered their letters of resignation through the Secretary to State Government, Dr. Emmanuel Ekuwem.
They are Pastor Umo Eno (Lands and Water Resources), Dr. Glory Edet (Agriculture); Mr. Akan Okon (Economic Development and Ibom Deep seaport); Mr. Okpulum Etteh (Special Duties and Prince Ukpong Akpabio (Trade and Investment).
Abia State Governor Okezie Ikpeazu has also directed all political appointees interested in contesting to resign their appointments.
The directive was contained in a statement yesterday by the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Chris Ezem.
The statement reads: “Pursuant to section 84(12) of the amended Electoral Act 2022.”
Also in Rivers, Governor Nyesom Wike directed those nursing political ambitions to resign.
It was gathered that the governor gave the directive during an EXCO meeting that was held at the Government House, Port Harcourt.
A source who was at the meeting, but spoke in confidence, said: “Wike was categorical when he gave the directive. The governor said it was in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act.”
Already, SSG, Dr. Tammy Wenike Danagogo, has joined the governorship race. He has obtained the expression of intent and nomination forms for the forthcoming governorship primaries of the PDP.
Oyo State Governor Seyi Makinde was yet to give a directive to appointees serving in his administration.
A government source confirmed that some appointees have indicated interest to seek elective political offices.
In Borno and Yobe states, few appointees have announced their resignations.
The Nation learnt that a commissioner and about four special advisers have tendered their resignation letters in Borno State.
In Yobe State, a source at the SSG office told our reporter that some special assistants have handed in their resignation notices.
“I can’t count the number of the special assistants and senior special assistants that have resigned. Almost all of them are contesting for the House of Assembly,” the source informed.
Lalong asks appointees to quit
Plateau State Governor Simon Lalong has directed appointees with the ambition to contest any public office to resign.
He said the decision was aimed at reducing to the barest, political distractions in governance and enabling such concerned public officers to focus on their aspirations as political activities to take centre stage in the state and the country.
His directive was contained in a letter signed by the Secretary to the Government of Plateau State Prof. Danladi Abok Atu and made available to reporters in Jos.
The letter, entitled: “Resignation of all political office holders wishing to contest the forthcoming political election”, reads in part: “As the countdown to the 2023 general elections draws nearer and in the face of the heightened political activities, it has become necessary for the government to provide a level playing ground for all political actors, especially those in the government to exercise their fundamental human rights.
“Consequently, I am to bring to the notice of all public officers occupying public offices under this administration that those interested and nursing political ambition to contest in the forthcoming 2023 general elections to resign their appointments on or before February 28, 2022.”
Lalong further explained that “the essence is to reduce to the barest, political distractions in governance and enable such concerned public officers to focus on their aspirations.”
In Delta State, no fewer than nine commissioners resigned last week.
Information Commissioner Charles Aniagwu, who spoke to reporters recently in Asaba, confirmed the development.
He added that their resignations were in compliance with Section 84(12) of the Electoral Act 2022, stressing that the state was determined to abide by the tenets of Section 84(2) of the Electoral Act 2022.
Aniagwu said: “The electioneering process has begun with the release of the timetable by INEC and with the operationalisation of the Electoral Act, 2022 and this calls for a whole lot of engagements.
“For us as a state, we are very much determined to observe and indeed work according to the tenets of the Electoral Act.
“More specifically, we are very much determined to give effect to Section 84(12) which provides that those who are appointees of government who intend to take part in the electioneering process starting from the party primaries will have to give way by resigning their appointments.
“On account of that, a number of members of the State Executive Council who want to pursue their political careers through some elective positions have also put in their resignations.
“I can confirm to you that no fewer than nine of the Commissioners would be taking part in the 2023 general elections and that means that nine of them will no longer be part of our meetings as members of the state executive council.
“Three other persons, who have put in their resignations because they are statutory delegates and that is to tell you the extent to which we are giving effect to the provision of that law.”
In Ebonyi, Governor David Umahi gave his appointees and all political office holders the nod to start consultations and to declare their interest in various positions.
The Secretary to the State Government, Kenneth Ugbala has declared interest in the Ebonyi Central Senatorial ticket.
The Commissioner for Capital City Territory, Onyekachi Nwebonyi has declared for Ebonyi North Senatorial zone.
In Imo, Governor Hope Uzodimma said his government would abide by the provision of the Electoral Act on the political appointees seeking an elective position in 2023.
Speaking through his Chief Press Secretary, Oguwike Nwachuku, the governor said that “Imo State is a law-abiding state and the political appointees are also law-abiding and would abide with the provision of law on the Electoral Act.
“The state, people both in and out including appointees are law-abiding. We will abide by the position of law and that’s our position. So whatever the law demands we will abide because we are a law-abiding state.”
In Bayelsa, Governor Douye Diri had in January directed his appointees seeking political offices to resign.
Diri explained that such ambition was legitimate but it should not be at the expense of effective service delivery of his administration.
It was learnt that a number of appointees, including the Chief of Staff, Government House, Chief Benson Agadaga, have resigned their appointments in compliance with the Governor’s directive.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Political Matters, Collins Cocodia, was quoted as saying that many appointees had resigned.
He was quoted by a source as saying that he would liaise with the Office of the SSG before making public the names of the appointees who have resigned to pursue their ambitions.
In Ogun State, two commissioners Taiwo Oludotun (Community Development and Cooperatives) Modele Sarafa Yusuf (Senior Special Adviser on Information and Strategy), were said to have resigned their appointments.
Information and Strategy Commissioner Waheed Odusile, who could not confirm those who have resigned, promised to give details on EXCO members who have turned in their resignations.
Adamawa Gov hasn’t issued quit notice to appointees
In Kaduna, the Commissioner for Planning and Budget, Muhammad Sani Abdullahi Dattijo, resigned after declaring interest to succeed Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai.
On March 16, the governor directed political appointees and public servants aspiring for political offices in 2023 to resign on or before March 31.
Dattijo had been replaced with Umma Aboki as the acting Commissioner for the Planning and Budget Commission