2023: Sylva, Tallen Back Out of Political Ambitions, Retain Ministerial Positions
•Amaechi forges ahead with presidential race, resigns ministerial post
•Ita Enang quits cabinet, to contest A’Ibom guber primary
Deji Elumoye and Ndubuisi Francis in Abuja and Wale Igbintade
Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, and Minister of Women Affairs, Mrs. Paullen Tallen, have chickened out of their plans to resign from the cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari to pursue their respective political ambitions.
But Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Amaechi, yesterday, officially resigned his position in the cabinet to focus on his aspiration to contest the 2023 presidency.
Sylva withdrew from the presidential race under the All Progressives Congress (APC) and returned to work as minister, while Tallen pulled out of her plan to contest a senatorial position in Plateau State.
Like two of their colleagues, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Minister of Labour and Productivity, Chris Ngige, Sylva and Tallen decided to remain as ministers and beat the May 16, 2022 deadline given ministers in Buhari’s cabinet with political ambitions to resign.
But lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana, SAN, said Malami and Ngige had exposed the country to ridicule with their U-turn. Falana said after participating in a farewell meeting, the two ministers could not return to the cabinet to function as ministers.
Tallen, who along with eight of her colleagues attended a valedictory session with the president last Friday at the State House, Abuja, in a statement she personally signed, yesterday, said her resigning from the Federal Executive Council (FEC) would be a contravention of Article 31 of the All Progressives Congress (APC) Constitution, which gave political office holders 30 days to resign before party primary or election.
According to her, “Mindful that the constitution of APC stipulates in Article 31 (1) (iii) (October 2014 As Amended), that: ‘Any Party Office holder interested in contesting for an elective office (whether party office or office in a general election) shall resign and leave office 30 days prior to the date of nomination or party primary for the office he or she is seeking to contest’, It will therefore be a breach to resign office at this time since this was not done ahead of the stipulated timeline.”
The former deputy governor of Plateau State also said she had for now jettisoned her ambition to run for senatorial seat in Plateau South in the 2023 general election.
She asked her supporters to re-elect the current senator for Plateau South, who is also a female, Professor Nora Daduut.
Tallen explained in the statement, “I stand here today thankful to God for His abiding faith in my life and for the multiple opportunities for me to serve this country in various capacities, humbled by the love, support and commitment shown me by well-meaning Nigerians, with the intent for the good of the great people of the Southern Senatorial District of Plateau State.
“Mindful of the task before us, I am deeply grateful for the trust vested in me as we all strive to make meaningful contributions for the greater good of our country as a whole.
“Women groups and other stakeholders had thought it wise to purchase an expression of interest form under the APC for me to participate in the forthcoming elections. I would like to thank and assure all my supporters that while their intention was well conceived, my current work in superintending the numerous projects for Mr. President as Women Affairs Minister require my undivided attention.
“Additionally, whilst their quest is a good move in support of the clamour for more women in elective and appointive positions, and considered to be critical in addressing the gender question, I am compelled to focus on the foundations we have laid towards the advancement and realisation of gender equality in leadership positions in the country.”
Tallen stressed that she had not submitted any resignation letter.
Meanwhile, in a statement issued by the Amaechi Presidential Media Committee (APMC), signed by Kingsley Wali, in Abuja, the former Rivers State governor, in his resignation letter, expressed gratitude to the president for considering him fit to serve in his administration. He equally thanked Buhari for the enormous support given him, which he said, was responsible for the tremendous record of achievements he made in the Ministry of Transportation over the last seven years.
The statement quoted Amaechi as saying in his resignation letter, “It is with mixed feelings that I tender my resignation as the Minister of Transportation of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to contest for the presidential ticket of our great party, the All Progressives Congress.
“Your Excellency, it has been a great honour and privilege serving as a member of your cabinet following your historic victory at the polls in 2015. Under your administration, the Ministry of Transportation has recorded significant achievements, made possible by your visionary support and commitment to ensuring that we deliver on our mandate.”
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Niger Delta, Senator Ita Enang, also resigned to contest for the Akwa Ibom governorship primary under APC.
A statement from Senator Ita Enang Guber Campaigns, made available to THISDAY, announced his resignation.
Quoting Enang, the statement said, “In an appreciation and resignation letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Monday afternoon, Senator Ita Enang paid glowing tributes to Mr. President ‘for the opportunities to serve which I, and my family shall forever treasure.
‘And the time has come. I intend to contest for the governorship of Akwa Ibom State on the platform of our party, the APC for which I now seek nomination, having purchased and submitted the Nomination and Expression of interest form.
‘I hereby formally tender my resignation from office, to pursue gubernatorial electoral cause.
‘In August 2015, upon your inauguration, Your Excellency graciously appointed me as the Senior Special Assistant to The President on National Assembly matters – Senate and Presidential Liaison to the National Assembly.
‘I served in this capacity managing what turned out to be the toughest Executive – Legislative Liaison assignment in the nation’s democratic history.’”
Enang promised that despite his resignation he would always be available, “to assist our government and party to finish well as your administration enters the critical bracing phase.”
Malami, Ngige Have Exposed Country to Ridicule, Says Falana
Rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN, insisted that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, and his counterpart in the Ministry of Labour and Productivity, Dr. Chris Ngige, were estopped from denying that they had been removed from the cabinet of President Muhammad Buhari.
According to Falana, the announcement by the two ministers to sit tight in office has exposed the country to undeserved ridicule.
Falana’s views were contained in a statement titled, “How President Buhari Sacked Ministers That Failed to Resign.”
Falana argued that having voluntarily participated in a farewell meeting, the two ministers could not return to the cabinet, either on their own volition or on the directive of the president.
In response to a former Dean of the Faculty of Law, Imo State University, Professor Nnamdi Obiaraeri, who faulted the position of Falana on implication of withdrawal of resignation letters by some ministers, Falana said as far as the constitution was concerned, the resignation of a minister took effect once the letter of resignation was received by the appointing authority.
He said, “In opposing my views, Professor N.O. Obiaraeri was reported to have said that ‘There is no evidence of a written acknowledgment of the letter and acceptance of the letter of resignation by the person to whom it was addressed.’
“With respect to the learned professor, the constitution does not provide for ‘a written acknowledgment of the letter and acceptance of the letter of resignation’.
“As far as the constitution is concerned, the resignation of a minister takes effect once the letter of resignation is received by the appointing authority.
“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 306 (2) thereof provides that “The resignation of any person from any office established by this constitution shall take effect when the writing signifying the resignation is received by the authority or person to whom it is addressed or by any person authorised by that authority or person to receive it.
“Apart from the direct and express provision of the constitution, this is also the position as judicially proclaimed in several cases. In Benson v. Onitiri (1960) SCNLR 177 @189-190; Sunday v. Olugbenga & ors (2008) LPELR-4995 (CA); WAEC V. Oshienebo (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 994) 258, it was held that resignation or voluntary retirement takes immediate effect, once received by the employer or agent of the employer. In Yesufu v Governor of Edo State & Ors (2001) LPELR-3526 (SC) it was held that resignation needs not be formally ‘accepted’.
“From the foregoing, the implication of inviting the outgoing ministers to the valedictory ceremony was that President Buhari had made up his mind to dispense with their services with effect from May 16, 2022. And the participation of the ministers in the valedictory ceremony without any protest whatsoever meant that they had accepted their exit from the cabinet.
“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of the national crisis, the outgoing ministers are estopped from denying that they have been removed from the cabinet. But two of the ministers have announced their plans to sit tight in office and thereby expose the country to undeserved ridicule.
“While wishing them well in their dream world, it is hoped that the federal government will call them to order without any further delay.”
Buhari had on May 13 summoned the ministers, who had submitted their resignation letters, to a valedictory programme at the villa.
The president also invited to the programme other ministers involved in politics but who had failed to submit their letters of resignation.
At the brief ceremony, the president thanked the outgoing ministers for their services to the nation through their contributions as cabinet members.
“I wish you success in the upcoming elections and in your future endeavours,” Buhari said.
While responding on behalf of the outgoing ministers, Mr. Godswill Akpabio thanked the president for giving them the opportunity to serve and contribute their quota to nation-building. Akpabio described working with the president as a “fantastic and knowledgeable experience”, adding that as they step aside, they would continue to be great disciples of Buhari.
After the farewell ceremony, the presidency published the names of the nine ministers who had left the cabinet together with the farewell picture taken with the president.
Falana said the ministers could not deny their exit from the cabinet.