‘Great Resignation’ to hit Buhari’s cabinet

Following President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive to his ministers who have political ambitions, what looks like the ‘Great Resignation’ started on Wednesday, with Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, minister of state for education, quitting the cabinet.

Other ministers expected to resign are Rotimi Amaechi (transportation), Godswill Akpabio (Niger Delta affairs), Chris Ngige (labour and employment), as Ogbonnaya Onu (science, technology and innovation), as they have joined the presidential race on the platform of the ruling party, All Progressives Congress.

Others are Abubakar Malami, attorney-general and minister of justice, who is seeking to contest governorship position in Kebbi State; Uche Ogar, minister of state for mines and steel, who is running for governorship in Abia State, and Paulline Tallen, minister of women affairs, who declared her ambition to contest for senatorial seat in Plateau State.

BusinessDay had reported on Wednesday that the Nigerian economy, still reeling from the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war, looked set to suffer another setback as politics has already taken centre stage, pushing governance into the background.

Findings had revealed that the electioneering by some cabinet members had slowed down policy implementation, project supervision and other key activities of many government ministries, departments and agencies.

Buhari, on Wednesday, directed the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, to issue a circular that indicates those affected by the President’s resignation order.

Garba Shehu, senior special assistant to the President on media and publicity, disclosed this at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Wednesday.

He said Buhari had given a directive to ministers who purchased nomination forms to contest for the Presidency and other elective offices to resign immediately.

He said: “He told them to follow the example of minister of state for education, Nwujabu, who purchased a form and tendered his resignation.

“The president said anybody who bought forms to contest any elective position, excluding the Vice President, should immediately resign and face his ambition. That is the directive he gave. I will advise that you wait for the circular that would be issued by the secretary to the government.”

He added: “What I want people to understand is that whether there is law or no law, the President is the one who appoints and he has power to remove any appointee. He has asked them to immediately resign, so we are waiting to see what they will do.”

Read also: Buhari orders ministers with political ambition to resign

The Head of Service of the Federation, Folashade Yemi-Esan, had earlier warned civil servants to desist from participating in partisan politics as stated in the Public Service Rules.

This was contained in a circular signed by the Head of Service, dated May 5, 2022, marked HCSF/479/II/19, with the title, “Clarification on the provisions of Public Service Rules viś-à-vis the Supreme Court judgment as it relates to civil servants in partisan politics”.

The circular said: “It has become necessary to draw the attention of all civil servants to the legal opinion of the Hon. Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (HAGF&MJ) on this matter.

“In his letter, Ref. Number SGF/PS/HCSF/210/II, dated 26th November 2018, HAGF&MJ asserted, inter alia, that ‘neither the 1999 Constitution nor the Supreme Court has authorised civil servants to engage in partisan politics.”

She drew the attention of the civil servants to Rule 030423 of the Public Service Rules, which states that “resignation is necessary before seeking elective public office. Albeit, any officer wishing to engage in partisan political activities or seek elective public office shall resign his/her appointment forthwith.”

Chekwas Okorie, founding member of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, applauded the decision of the President, saying it was the right thing to do, so that governance would not be affected.

He said: “The President has probably been advised by his advisers on the issue. President Muhammadu Buhari did not sack anybody; whether there is an Electoral Act or not, it is morally wrong to be campaigning and still remain in appointed position.

“Anybody who would have paid such money to get the presidential form would do everything to get the ticket and in that process, the official duty in the ministry would suffer. It would be difficult to perform in the office. The President should not allow for a vacuum, let him appoint new people into the positions soon.”

Idowu Omolegan, public affair analyst and lawyer, said it would be unfair and a setback to Buhari’s administration to allow ministers to remain in office while campaigning.

“What he did is the normal practice globally, the thinking is that these people would have undue advantage against their opponents, because you would use your position to influence things to your advantage,” he said

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