At least, 13 commissioners have resigned their appointments in Sokoto State ahead of the primary elections in accordance with the Electoral Act, bringing the total number of commissioners that had resigned in order to contest elections to over 60 across the 36 states, The PUNCH can confirm.
A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Publicity, Muhammad Bello, on Wednesday said Governor Aminu Tambuwal had accepted their resignations accordingly.
The statement read in part, “Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has accepted the resignation of 13 key portfolio holders in his administration, which include Manir Iya, the deputy governor, who was also the overseer of the Ministry of Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs.
“The remaining commissioners are those hitherto manning Ministries of Finance, Environment, Youths and Sports, Lands and Housing; as well as Careers and Security: Abdussamad Dasuki, Sagir Bafarawa, Bashir Gorau, Aminu Bodinga and Col. Garba Moyi (retd) respectively.
“Other commissioners who resigned are those of Commerce, Works, Water Resources, Solid Minerals and Religious Affairs: Bashir Gidado, Salihu Maidaji, Shuaibu Gobir, Abubakar Ahmad and Abdullahi Maigwandu correspondingly.
“More of those who resigned include the Secretary to the State Government, Mallam Sa’idu Umar and the Chief of Staff, Mukhtar Magori.”
Sokoto is not the only state where commissioners have resigned. In Kano State, no fewer than 10 commissioners have resigned while in Delta State at least nine have stepped down. The case is the same in Kwara State where no fewer than seven commissioners have stepped aside while in Bayelsa State at least five have resigned.
In Lagos State, Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently asked members of his cabinet seeking to run for office to resign.
‘I won’t resign’
However, the Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, insisted that he would not resign until 30 days before the general election as required by the constitution.
He said Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State was a minister when he contested the governorship primary and won, adding that nobody could confer his opinion on another.
The minister spoke when a group, Project Nigeria, presented the N100m presidential form of the All Progressives Congress it purchased for him on Wednesday.
Nwajiuba urged anyone who was hurt by his decision to remain in office to challenge it in court.
The minister said, “The resignation of a minister or anybody who is in office is guided by the constitution to contest elections.
“We are required to contest elections if we want, required to resign 30 days before the election we wish to contest in. That’s the position of the law. Any other person can have an opinion. My position is that the law of the country rests on the grundnorm called the constitution.
“If you do not like the constitution, your work is to amend it. There is no subrogation of power that is required for you to include into a law what is not deemed as included in that law. If you’re in doubt I’ll remind you about Kayode Fayemi. He was in government up till the day he contested in the primary and started his campaign and 30 days to his election he called the federal executive cabinet, and said ‘I am now meeting the requirements of law by resigning.”
Nwajiuba’s decision to contest despite a protracted strike embarked on by members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities drew criticisms from Nigerians mainly on social media who argued that the minister ought to focus on ending the crisis rather than his personal political ambition.
Reacting to the criticisms, he pleaded with the lecturers to return to class, assuring them their demands would be met.
He said, “I will like them to return to class so that students can go back to class, as the nation earns, we pay them, as the nation gets money, we will settle them. We don’t want our children to miss the opportunity of their own time because there is a time frame in which children must grow, the time cannot wait. It is important that ASUU returns to class.”
Also, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, who declared his intention to run for Presidency in the APC, has refused to resign.
Similarly, the Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige, who is in charge of negotiations with striking university lecturers, insisted that he would not resign despite his intention to contest the Presidency.
Ngige also said he was unaware of a directive by the All Progressives Congress for political appointees to resign.
The minister said this while fielding questions from State House correspondents after the Wednesday Federal Executive Council meeting.
According to him, since the March 18 judgment of the Federal High Court in Umuahia struck out section 84(12) of the recently signed Electoral Act 2022, he is under no pressure to resign.
I’ll be guided by the letters and spirit of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That aspect of the law enacted by the National Assembly, via the Electoral Act, Section 84(12) has been struck down by a court of law and the cases are on appeal. And for now, no matter how bad the judgment is, that’s the maximum jurisprudence. No matter how bad the law is, it is a judgment of the court, it should be obeyed, until upturned or stayed.
“But there is no stay, there’s no atonement of that particular pronouncement, and the party is on appeal. So the judgment is still subsisting. That aspect of the law was injurious to some persons and should not have been there.
“I also know that the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in sections 107, 137 and 88, prescribes disqualification clauses for people who are going for election and that prescription is supreme because it’s in the constitution and the constitution is the grundnorm of all laws,” he said.
On the N100m fee for the nomination and expression of interest form, the labour minister said, “Well, that is the people’s views. I had said earlier that I made a budget for N50m, and it is now N100m.
“So I have discussed with my supporters, and they are raising the money to augment whatever is before now. So when they finish augmentation, I believe that we’ll get up to N100m so that we can purchase our form.”