Reacting to the recent announcement by Dr. Oby Ezekwesili that she is stepping down from the 2019 presidential race, her political party – the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) – has denounced her, while endorsing the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), President Muhammadu Buhari.
“The Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) is withdrawing support for her presidential aspiration and endorsing the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari to take Nigeria to the next level,” the party said in a statement on Thursday.
Backstory: The party, in a press conference in Abuja, addressed by its National Chairman and running mate to Ezekwesili, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadinma, its National Secretary, Chief Paul Isamede among others, said the following:
- No consultation: That Ezekwesili did not consult with the party before making her decision to withdraw from the race.
- Not surprised: They were however not surprised by her withdrawal because it was a preemptive move due to the fact that the party had planned to handover its ticket to another candidate following a meeting it had scheduled for Thursday.
- Ministerial ambition: That Ezekwesili’s ambition was actually a ploy to secure a ministerial seat in the next government. “We have been put into confidence by several of her aides one of which is named lyinoluwa Aboyeji, and Maureen, that she only wanted to use the platform of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) to negotiate to be Nigeria’s Finance minister. This, she did not deem fit to inform the party whose mandate she is holding.”
- No structure: That the signs were clear all along about Ezekwesili’s real agenda. “If you will observe, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, is the only presidential candidate who was so militant in her campaign without any tangible thing on the ground to indicate any seriousness in the prosecution of her campaign. No campaign secretariat, billboard or great commitment on the ground to indicate any seriousness.”
- Campaign finance: The party also accused Ezekwesili of opening multiple accounts using the party’s name without the party’s knowledge. “We also seek this medium to I form our former presidential candidate Dr Ezekwesili to return to the party all the property in her possession especially the various donations that she has been receiving from all over the world. Whatever she had received belongs to the party and we must render account to the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC. So, it is mandatory. We are aware of all the accounts she and her aides had opened for this election to which donations were made.”
Why it matters: In an earlier statement, Ezekwesili had said that while her party had resisted, she was stepping down to help build a coalition aimed at taking down the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) during the presidential elections. So this is now a matter of integrity. If, as the party claims, Ezekwesili was angling for a ministerial position, the question is under whose government? If it is under a Buhari government, then why is the party denouncing her and then endorsing the same Buhari? If it is under an Atiku government, then the strategy hardly makes sense because observers agree that her presence was ore likely to negatively affect Atiku in the South than Pres. Buhari. So the party’s claims raise a lot of questions about its own credibility.