FG sets up task force to clear port corridor

Says those seeking clarification from President wasting time

Justifie N100m for APC Expression of Interest Forms

Notes APC needs money, but won’t tamper with nation’s treasury

By Elizabeth Adegbesan

The Presidency warned yesterday that ministers and other appointees seeking electoral offices in the 2023 elections who failed to abide by the presidential directive to resign their appointments latest Monday were on their own.

It also stated that President Muhammadu Buhari would not probe the source of the N100 million aspirants paid to secure nomination forms to contest the presidential elections, inferring that the anti-corruption agencies, such as the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, should be allowed to do their jobs.

This came barely hours after the Secretary to Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, released a circular which directed all appointees seeking elective positions to resign between now and May 16, 2022.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Public, Malam Garba Shehu, who stated these in an interview on Channels Television breakfast programme, Sunrise, yesterday, said ministers affected by the President’s order to resign cannot dictate to him when to go.

According to him, the President appointed them and also has the authority to ask them to quit office.

It will be recalled that President Buhari at Wednesday’s Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting, asked ministers interested in elective positions to quit latest Monday, May 16.

He said:  ”I think that decision to go will be made by individuals concerned but If they think they are entitled to continue in office as they contest for senate, governor or minister or the  president.

”The president was well advised on all of these matters. We should rightly assume that the advisers and the Chief of Staff to the president, Secretary to the government, chief economic adviser to the President tell the President what is right and what is wrong. And I believe that the President has all of these information at his disposal and the decision was made by him.

”If somebody thinks the directive is not clear to him, it is up to him to make the decision to stay or to go.

”The president has given his directive, clearly stated out, it is for people to place themselves where they think they belong.

”For now, the directive from the government is that if you are a minister and you are a minister of state, handover to the minister of state. If you don’t have a minister of state, hand over to the secretary. If you are head of a government agency, a parastatal , extra-ministerial government department or ambassador, hand over to the most senior in that department and go.”

On what would happen if the ministers concerned failed to resign on Monday, the presidential spokesman said:   ”Who are you serving then because the man who put you there says go and you say you don’t want to go, so you are on your own.

”I think logically, the president has to be obeyed because he is the appointed authority under the constitution and the authority also to remove. So if anybody thinks any extra- territorial authority can sustain him in office, that will be strange to us. We would like to know what that extra-territorial authority is.”

Asked if such a fellow would be sacked, Malam Shehu said:  ”I think the decision is actually that of the President.”

On whether the President was acting in line with Section 84 (12), which precludes appointed officials from participating in party congresses and convention, he said:  ”As a matter of fact when the president spoke in the private cabinet yesterday (on Wdnesday), he made no reference to section 84 or any other law.

”He simply gave that directive and I think that it is very clear, that as the head of the executive arm of government in whom executive authority and powers of  the federation resides, he has absolutely directed that this be done and should be obeyed and that is the position.

”But one of the first few reactions to the move by the presidency was that perhaps the directive was selective since the additional statement was that other political appointees will be asked to resign in the coming days.

”One would have thought that the law was clear and that they didn’t have to wait till the coming days for a directive from the presidency.

”By yesterday (Wednesday) evening, the president had okayed the government circular  issued and signed  by the Secretary to the Government which specifically said that beyond the ministers, all heads and members of extra ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals and government and ambassadors as well as other political appointees who desire to context for offices should resign and that that is the position.

”So this is taken very seriously. The president has appointed 10 a.m tomorrow to say farewell and thank you to the ministers in the farewell meeting. It is all done, signed, sealed and delivered..”

Garba Shehu, who didn’t want to be dragged into issues around governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, Mr, Godwin Emefiele, said:  ”I don’t want you to drag me into names, especially given one of the things that are happening in court and all of that but if he considers himself a head of department or agency or parastatal , if he considers himself a member of extra-ministerial department, i think he and his lawyers will determine what is the implication of that for them.

Asked if the president was comfortable with aspirants purchasing N100 million form with his no nonsense stance for corruption, the presidential scribe said:  ”Fortunately, I was present with Mr. President when this N100 million decision was made and I know that at first, even some governors and aspirants in the room knew it raised some concerns.

”But the party didn’t make a case of it. The national chairman was applauded for this because this is a party that doesn’t take money from a traitor and the party chairman did see it and none of the governors challenged him.

”He told the governor ‘you are not funding us, let us go and look for the money we need to run a successful campaign’. Now, there is beauty in this. It tells you that the party has taken the sense of accountability and the judiciary of  excellence to a level never seen in the past.

”It used to be taken for granted that governors would just say I draw money from the treasury and throw it into the coffers of the party. So if the party is complaining that it is not being funded by governors, that means the governors are running their economies well and abiding by the rules.

”The Party’s NEC applauded the chairman for this undertaking and he was given a free pass and the question is how did he get N100 million and where did it come from? I think this is a question that should go to each individual aspirant on how did they save or how did they get it?

”I have seen someone say he quit the race after online contributors gave him up to N83 million. So it seems to me that it is not quite a difficult task for people to ask people to donate and then the money comes to their wallets.

”The President asking how they got the money is not the way to go because that means he will expel aspirants from the party and that  means that you do not want them to run.

”I ruled out that there is no offence when questions are asked. My worry about this is, is it the president that must do this? I am saying to you that you know the kind of President we have anyway.

”If ICPC or EFCC will say Mr Permanent Secretary where did you get this money from, this Presidency will not stop them, that I can assure you. And I can say it is not only the ICPC or EFCC, but also the media has the duty to ensure accountability to the public and these questions are legitimate when they are asked.”

The Federal Government had late Wednesday, through the Office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, issued a circular directing serving ministers in the cabinet, heads of government agencies, ambassadors and other political appointees of the administration, coveting political ambitions in 2023 to resign from the government.

The circular was dated May 11, 2022 with Ref. No.SGF/OP/l/S.3/Xll/173, addressed to all serving ministers, head of the Civil Service of the Federation, National Security Adviser, Chairman, Independent National Electoral Commission, Governor, Central Bank of Nigeria, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, Chairman, Federal Inland Revenue Service and heads of extra-ministerial departments, Directors-General/Chief Executive Officers of parastatals, agencies and government-owned companies among others.

In the circular, Mustapha said President Muhammadu Buhari had observed and noted the expression of interest and intention by some members of the Federal Executive Council, Heads of Extra-Ministerial departments, agencies, parastatals of government, ambassadors and other political office holders to contest the upcoming presidential, gubernatorial, National and State Assemblies’ elections.

He said the President had directed that the affected office holders aspiring to run for various offices in the 2023 general elections, tendered their resignation on or before Monday, May 16, 2022.

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