What has happened?
The President of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari has put out a directive that states that all members of the Federal Executive Council (FEC) running for elective offices should submit their letters of resignation on or before Monday the 16th of May, 2022. This was made known by Information and Culture Minister, Lai Mohamed during today’s Federal Executive Council meeting. Mohammed said that the directive excludes the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, as he is an elected member of the cabinet, adding that nothing has as yet been said about the fate of other political appointees who are also vying for elective positions but are not members of the cabinet.
As it currently stands, those affected by the order include Ministers of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi; Niger Delta, Godswill Akpabio; Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Science, Technology and Innovation, Ogbonnaya Onu, Minister of State for Education, Emeka Nwajiuba — all of whom have joined the presidential race on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC).
Why It Matters
It can be recalled that The Court of Appeal in Abuja, earlier today, voided the judgment of the Federal High Court in Umuahia, Abia State, which nullified the controversial section Section 84 (12) of the Electoral Act 2022. In simpler terms, what this means is that a political appointee (like Attorney-General Malami, for instance, or ministers, commissioners, special advisers, personal assistants, etc), be it at the federal or state level is not allowed to be a voting delegate or be voted for in a political party primary. And since such an individual is not allowed to be a delegate or be elected by the provision of Section 84(12), then he or she cannot be a candidate for an election.
Now, President Buhari’s recent directive comes on the same day the Court of Appeal conditionally validated this section of the electoral law, and while the President is well within his rights to issue this order, it has definitely raised a few questions and eyebrows. One bone of contention that has come to light is the fact that the Court of Appeal ruling allows appointees to remain in office until 30 days before the general elections, which are scheduled to be held in February 2023. This means that Buhari’s order may come across as both hasty and unconstitutional, which will certainly ruffle more than a few feathers.
What Comes Next?
This recent directive by Buhari has stirred mixed reactions from Nigerians, especially on social media. While some Nigerians have “expressed shock” and general confusion, many others have praised the President’s decisions, saying that it’s a step in the right direction, even going as far as calling for the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, and Senate President Ahmed Lawan to also resign!
This could impact the upcoming primaries as appointees tend to have more leverage when competing as opposed to being mere civilians. It also means that depending on the outcome of the primaries, some of those concerned could find themselves unemployed should the outcomes not favor them. That said, Buhari’s mandate offers a jolt of confidence to the current climate which will mark a welcome change from the recent nonchalance and laissez-faire undertone that has become synonymous with the current administration.