…retains appointment, says ‘I want to focus on my job’
Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Friday, made a U-turn, announcing his withdrawal from the 2023 presidential race.
Ngige said he took the “momentous decision” in Nigeria’s interest and to enable him to concentrate on his national assignment.
The minister was one of the aspirants who purchased the N100 million nomination and expression of interest forms to the presidential ticket of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the 2023 general elections.
But Ngige withdrew from the race less than two days after President Muhammadu Buhari directed all members of his cabinet seeking elective office in the 2023 polls to resign on or before May 16.
Ngige’s press statement made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday, read, “On Tuesday, 19th April 2022, I publicly declared my interest to contest for the office of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, following the constitutional provision that precludes our amiable incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari from seeking re-election to the office, as he would have completed his two terms in office by 29th May 2023.
“The declaration was made in my home town, Alor, Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State. My declaration was sequel to pressure on me from my constituents, political associates, friends and other well-meaning Nigerians, who felt I possess the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.
“Some of these supporters even taxed themselves to procure the Expression of Interest/Nomination Forms of our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) for me. The forms however are yet to be filled and submitted.
“Today, 13th May, 2022, I had an audience with the President, Muhammadu Buhari as a follow-up to the one I earlier had with him on 11th May, 2022.
“Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.
“As a result of this, I will not be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary.
“I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation, in order to enable me concentrate on my job, and assist the President and the government, and secondly for other family reasons.
“I have since communicated this decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“My constituents, political associates and well-wishers across the country are by this statement informed of this latest decision, which also has the blessing and support of the overwhelming majority, hence supersedes any other interest or personal or otherwise.”