President Muhammadu Buhari Friday pre-empted his ministers who indicated interest in vying for presidential and other positions by sending them forth while they were contemplating whether to resign or not.
The president bade farewell to outgoing members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at a brief ceremony held at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
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However, the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, have made a u-turn.
It was learnt that Buhari had told Malami to shelve his ambition of vying for the governorship seat of Kebbi State and remain in the cabinet until 2023.
On other hand, Ngige announced the withdrawal of his presidential ambition, saying he rather remain as a minister. All these happened a few hours after the send forth ceremony they attended at the Villa.
Before now, three ministers had resigned, namely, the Minister of State (Education), Emeka Nwajiuba; Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu; and Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio.
Daily Trust Saturday learnt that Buhari had to organise the event ahead of FEC before the political appointees could change their minds over the plan to pursue elective positions.
Speaking at the valedictory session, the president said appointments would be made without delay so that the business of governance would not suffer as their departure had created a vacuum that should be filled.
President Buhari said a significant number of them had been sufficiently equipped to aspire to higher elective offices, including the office of the president.
“I have no doubt that if the next president emerges from among former members of this cabinet, like any other aspirant, ample competence and outstanding service delivery would be on display. This will be part of our legacies to Nigerians,” he said.
The president, who commended the departing public officers for serving the country sacrificially “with dignity and honour,’’ had at the last FEC meeting on May 11, 2022, directed that all ministers and other political appointees who aspire to contest for elective offices in the 2023 general elections should resign their current appointments.
The outgoing members of the FEC present at the valedictory session included ministers of transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Niger Delta Affairs, Godswill Akpabio; science, technology and innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, state for petroleum resources, Timipre Sylva; Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige.
Others were Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN); Minister of State, Mines and Steel Development, Uche Ogah; the Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen and the Minister of State for Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Tayo Alasoadura.
The Minister of State (Education), Nwajiuba, who had earlier tendered his resignation, was not present at the valedictory session.
Speaking on behalf of the outgoing ministers, Akpabio thanked the president for giving them the opportunity to serve and contribute their quota to nation building. He said that as they step aside they would continue to be great disciples of Buhari.
“May one of us succeed you in order to continue the good legacies you have laid on the ground. We have seen and known your vision. We know where you want the country to be,” he said.
Announcing his withdrawal from the presidential race, Ngige promised to stay away from the “internal party processes” of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In a press statement, the minister noted, “I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation in order to enable me to concentrate on my job and assist the president and the government; and secondly, for other family reasons,” he said.