25 January 2019

Nigeria: Controversy Trails Ezekwesili's Withdrawal From Presidential Race

Photo: Oby Ezekwesili
Oby Ezekwesili.

Controversy has trailed the withdrawal of Dr Oby Ezekwesili as the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).

Hours after the decision, the ACPN adopted the candidacy of President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) also said, yesterday, that the party's presidential candidate could not withdraw from the race.

The national chairman of the party, Alhaji Gani Galadima, who was her running mate, in company of other national officers and state chairmen, told newsmen, yesterday, in Abuja that Dr Ezekwesili only pre-empted the party by her withdrawal.

Galadima also accused the former World Bank Vice President of fraudulently using the party to receive thousands of dollars and millions of naira without the knowledge of the party.

"She only tried to use our platform to negotiate a ministerial position in the next political dispensation as finance minister," Galadima said.

He said Dr Ezekwesili never consulted with the party before withdrawing from the race. But in a swift reaction, Dr Ezekwesili described the allegation by the national chairman of the party that she was never really serious about her presidential ambition as baseless.

In an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), her media aide, Mr Uzoma Ubabukoh, in Lagos, yesterday, said Galadima's claim that she was contesting to negotiate to be minister of finance was a figment of his imagination.

Ezekwesili claimed she withdrew from the race after due consultations with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.

She added that her decision to quit the race was informed by the need to help and build a coalition to stop APC and PDP from winning.

She said neither APC nor PDP could provide the kind of governance needed to reposition the country.

"All these allegations are figments of his imagination. They are baseless. The decision to withdraw from the race is in the interest of the nation. It should be the nation first before anything," Ubabukoh said.

Meanwhile, INEC has said that Mrs Ezekwesili, cannot withdraw from the race. The Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to the INEC chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, said this when asked for the commission's reaction on the development.

According to INEC, it is impossible for any presidential candidate to withdraw from the race now.

Daily Trust reports that a candidate can withdraw or be replaced not later than 45 days before the presidential election.

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