FOLLOWING the sudden withdrawal of the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, Oby Ezekwesili, from the February 16 presidential election, the party has endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari as its candidate for the election.
Earlier today, Ezekwesili announced that she was leaving the presidential race to help build a coalition to defeat the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, and the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
A statement issued by the spokesperson of her campaign, Ozioma Ubabukoh, said “despite resistance from the ACPN,” the former Minister was stepping down her candidacy in order to “focus squarely on building the coalition to a logical conclusion.”
However, the ACPN, through its National Chairman who doubles as its vice-presidential candidate, Alhaji Ganiyu Galadima, has accused Ezekwesili of merely attempting to use its platform and ticket to lobby for a ministerial appointment in the next political dispensation. Galadima noted that the former Minister did not officially notify the party of her decision before the public announcement.
Addressing a press conference, Galadima challenged Ezekwesili to render account of all monies she received as its flagbearer, threatening to sue her if she fails.
“The reason for calling this press conference is to let the world know about the presidential aspiration of Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, which in actual fact is not the truth.
“I have been put into confidence by one of her aides named Iyinoluwa Aboyeji that she only wanted to use the platform of the ACPN to negotiate to be Nigeria’s Finance Minister.
“This is why she does not deem fit to inform the party whose mandate she is holding. If you observe, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, is the only presidential candidate who was so militant in her campaign without any tangible thing on ground to indicate any seriousness in the prosecution of her campaign.
“No campaign secretariat, billboard or great commitment on ground to indicate any seriousness.
“It is on this ground that the 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. We may take her to court during her brief sojourn.
“She must return whatever money she collected from people on behalf of the party because whatever is given to her belongs to the party.
“Don’t forget that at the end of the day, as a party, we must render account to INEC, this is mandatory and it is in the Electoral Act.
“We want to use this medium to tell her that we are not that was given to her not unaware of the various accounts that herself and her personal aide has opened to generate funds.
“We are aware that monies were coming in droves but we didn’t know the successes of this funds, she should please come and render account to us.
“She should please come and render account to us and to come and give back to the party all that belongs to it because, without the party, nobody will give her any fund or donate anything to her.”
Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, through the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman, Mr. Rotimi Oyekanmi, has said that it was impossible for Ezekwesili or any other presidential candidate to withdraw from the February 16 presidential election.
According to Oyekanmi, “It is impossible for any presidential candidate to withdraw from the race now. According to the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general election, the last day for withdrawal by candidates or replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties was 17th November, 2018 for presidential and National Assembly elections.
“Therefore, the deadline for Ezekwesili or any candidate in that category to withdraw or be replaced has passed.”