2023 Presidency: Emefiele to Decide in Next Few Days

*PDP panics, makes accusations without evidence

*CBN gov has not broken any law, northern coalitions insist, tackle Akeredolu
*Coalition picks APC nomination forms for AfDB president, Adesina

Festus Akanbi, Ejiofor Alike in Lagos, Chuks Okocha, Adedayo Akinwale in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna

The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Mr. Godwin Emefiele, yesterday said he would decide in the next few days on the pressure being mounted on him to contest the 2023 presidential race.

The apex bank governor has also rejected the presidential nomination and Expression of Interest (EoI) forms of the All Progressives Congress (APC) procured for him by some farmers across the country. Emefiele who acknowledged the enormous pressure being mounted on him to throw his hat into the 2023 presidential ring, further clarified that he would make up his mind on the issue in the next few days.

Emefiele’s decision to decide in a few days has created panic in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the main opposition party yesterday made unfounded allegations against the apex bank’s governor.
As the deadline for the purchase of the APC presidential forms expires on Tuesday, May 10, former President Goodluck Jonathan has also come under last-minute pressure to throw his hat into the presidential ring on the platform of the ruling party.

The President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and former Minister of Agriculture, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, has however collected his nomination and EoI forms to vie for the APC presidential ticket.
This is coming as a Coalition of North-Central Youths Vanguard for Emefiele has said that the apex bank governor has not broken any law.

The Unified Northern Nigeria Youth Forum (UNNYF), one of the groups calling on Emefiele to contest for the 2023 Presidency, has also condemned the call by the Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, for Emefiele to resign.
The group reminded the Ondo State governor that “there is no provision in the Nigerian Constitution stopping Emefiele from seeking election into the office of the president while in office, provided he has not been disqualified by Section 137.”

In rejecting the forms procured for him by farmers, Emefiele said that should he decide to join the presidential race, he would use his hard-earned savings from his banking career to purchase the forms.
The CBN governor, in a series of Tweets, disclosed that he hasn’t decided on whether to throw his hat into the ring or not.
He also revealed that he prefers to pay for his forms from the proceeds of his savings whenever he makes up his mind.
The Twitter message read: “I am humbled by the growing interest of those asking that I run for the Office of President in the 2023 general election: I have not come to that decision. I note and salute the sacrifices of those farmers and patriots going as far as raising personal funds and offering me presidential nomination forms: I thank them most profusely.

“However, should I answer their calls and decide to seek presidential nomination, I will use my own hard-earned savings from over 35 years of banking leadership to buy my nomination forms, without proxies in an open and transparent manner in full compliance with the laws and Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“And should I not run for elected office, I will continue to serve and sacrifice for the good people of Nigeria under the able leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari. This is a serious decision that requires God’s Divine intervention: In the next few days The Almighty will so direct.”

Emefiele’s pronouncement has already created panic in PDP even when he has not decided to contest. National Publicity Secretary of the of the party, Mr. Debo Ologunagba told journalists in Abuja yesterday that the decision of the CBN governor to contest will bring untold hardship and crippling effect on the already fragile economy and loss of confidence on the economy by international investors.

A coalition of rice farmers and other crop growers had on Friday moved to drag the governor of the apex bank into the 2023 presidential race by purchasing the N100 million APC’s Presidential EoI and Nomination forms for him. Expressing the reason for their push for Emefiele, the farmers said the CBN governor as the head of Nigeria’s apex bank, “has shown capacity, focus, courage and worked tirelessly with the economic team of President Muhammadu Buhari to keep the economy of our great country afloat above recession and outright collapse.”

Reacting to the controversy trailing the purchase of the APC forms for Emefiele by the farmers, a Coalition of North-Central Youths Vanguard for Emefiele yesterday declared that the CBN governor has not broken any law.
The Publicity Secretary of the Coalition, Ameenah Hayatudeen, said the group was aware of the provisions of Section 9 of the CBN Act, which states that: “the Governor and the Deputy Governor shall devote the whole of their time to the service of the Bank and while holding office shall not engage in any full or part-time employment or vocation whether remunerated or not except such personal and charitable causes as may be determined by the Board and which do not conflict with or detract from their full-time duties…”

It noted that based on the above provision, the CBN Governor or Deputy Governor cannot be involved in any other employment or vocation while in office.
It stated: “Arising from this, therefore, how do we define employment or vocation?  In the case of Shell Petroleum Company of Nigeria vs Federal Board of Inland Revenue 1996 8 NWLR Part 466 256, the Supreme Court held that where the words of a statute are plain, precise and unambiguous, then it should be given the ordinary and natural meaning,” the group explained.

“We make bold to ask then from Emefiele’s traducers what then is the natural and ordinary meaning of the word ‘employment’?  And what is the natural and ordinary meaning of the word ‘vocation’?” the group queried.
The group explained that employment means ‘the state of having paid work,’ while ‘vocation means a person’s employment or main occupation’. It added: “Based on these definitions above, can it then be said that seeking election into the office of the president of Nigeria is an employment or vocation? The answer must surely be negative. Anything other than that will be the most artificial interpretation to suit a sinister purpose.
The group argued that contesting for the position of the president is an exercise of constitutional rights and not an engagement in any employment or vocation.
On its part, UNNYF, one of the groups calling on Emefiele to contest has condemned Akeredolu’s call for him to resign.

UNNYF in a statement issued yesterday in Kaduna accused the governor and “sponsored people” of trying to undermine the credibility of the CBN governor “who has yet to yield to numerous calls to contest for the presidency.”
The statement signed by the Convener of the group, Mohammed Danlami, maintained that “there is no provision in the Nigerian Constitution stopping Emefiele from seeking election into the office of the president while in office, provided he has not been disqualified by Section 137.”

“We are particularly disappointed with the position of Governor Akeredolu who should know better than power must rotate among all regions of Nigeria for equity, fairness and equal opportunities.
According to the group, since 23 years of the current democratic dispensation, the South-west with just six states had produced the president for eight years, a vice president for eight years and two speakers of the House of Representatives.

The group challenged the Ondo State governor to approach a competent court to challenge the CBN governor if he feels bothered about his candidacy.
It said the calls for Emefiele to resign stemmed from the deliberate misinterpretation of Section 9 of the CBN Act.
The group called on others who had called for the resignation of the CBN governor to tell their sponsors that such a call was dead on arrival.

Ethnic Youth Leaders Fault Sagay over Emefiele

In a related development, a group of ethnic youth leaders in Nigeria has condemned the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, for opposing the calls on Emefiele to contest the presidency.
The group under the aegis of the Nigerian Ethnic Youths Leaders Council (NEYLC) wondered why a senior lawyer, “will throw caution into the wind and begin to make public statements that are capable of undermining the political process.”

The NEYLC is made up of the Arewa Consultative Youths Movement (ACYM), Ohanaeze Ndigbo Youths Movement, Oduduwa Youths and Middle Belt Youths.
The group’s position was contained in a statement by the Ohanaeze youths’ Secretary-General and Head of the coalition’s secretariat, Nwada Ike Chiamaka.
“Talking magisterially on a decision that can only be taken by party delegates (which he is not among) only portrays Prof. Sagay as a meddlesome interloper in this matter,” the groups said.

Meanwhile, a coalition of 28 groups consisting of Youth Arise Movement, Nigerians in Diaspora One Nigeria Group, Prudent Youth Association of Nigeria, women groups, farmers, people with disabilities and other civil society groups, has raised the N100 million fee to purchase the APC forms for the former minister, Adesina. The coalition is led by the Head, of One Nigeria Group, Mr Mohammed Saleh.

Jonathan under Last-minute Pressure to Declare for 2023 Presidency

Meanwhile, as the deadline for the purchase of the APC’s presidential forms expires on Tuesday, May 10, former President Goodluck Jonathan has come under last-minute pressure to throw his hat into the presidential ring on the platform of the ruling party. Investigation however revealed that Jonathan has delayed his decision due to the clamour by the South-east to produce the next president and the large number of aspirants in the APC.

It was learnt that some northern leaders, including emirs and APC chieftains from the region, intensified pressure on the former president following his recent public pronouncement that he was considering the call by his supporters to contest the next presidential election.

THISDAY gathered that some of these APC chieftains also sent emissaries to him in Rivers State yesterday where he attended the burial ceremony of one of the policemen in his security team.
The policeman, who died after a protracted illness, was said to have been with the former president since his days as the deputy governor of Bayelsa State.

A source close to Jonathan told THISDAY last night that the former president has not made up his mind because of the large number of presidential aspirants on the platform of the APC and the agitation by the South-east to produce the next president.

“He is under intense pressure by some northern leaders and emirs who have insisted that he is the only one that can stabilise the country at this point. But two issues are delaying his decision. One, he is not comfortable with the large number of people that have purchased the presidential forms in APC.

“He believes that a large number of aspirants will make it difficult for the party to reach a consensus and he doesn’t want to come out and be ridiculed. He wants to be the consensus candidate. Again, he is concerned about the popular demand for South-east presidency. He doesn’t want to contest against the South-east because of the massive support the region gave him in his previous aspirations.

“He believes that even if he emerges as the consensus candidate of APC, it will be morally wrong for him to contest against the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) candidate if the party’s candidate emerges from the South-east,” the source explained.

The source also revealed that the extension of the sale of forms to May 10 (Tuesday) by the ruling party was part of the strategy to give Jonathan more time to conclude consultations and make up his mind.
Those rooting for Jonathan want the power to return to the North after four years because he has only one term to complete the maximum two tenures of four years each.

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