The Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr Chris Ngige, on Friday chickened out of the presidential race, after the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), held a valedictory session for ministers contesting the 2023 elections.
Ngige said he took the decision after consulting with his family, constituents, supporters and well-wishers.
Similarly, another presidential aspirant on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress, Gbenga Olawepo-Hashim, on Friday announced his withdrawal from the race, saying his own day would come. He said he withdrew after a series of consultations and reflections on current developments in the political scene.
However, Ngige, who declared his intention to contest on April 19, said he had communicated his decision to the President and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
He said in a statement, titled, ‘Withdrawal of my presidential aspiration,’ that he declared for the presidential race due to pressure from his constituents, political associates and well-meaning Nigerians who felt he possessed the necessary qualifications and experience for the job.
He said they also bought the N100m expression of interest and nomination forms for him, but that the forms were neither filled nor submitted.
The statement partly read, “Today, May 13, 2022, I had an audience with President Muhammadu Buhari as a follow-up to the one I earlier had with him on May 11. Having also consulted widely with my family, constituents, supporters and well-wishers, it is my pleasure to announce the withdrawal of my interest and earlier decision to contest the office of the President in the 2023 general elections.
“As a result of this, I will not be participating in any of the internal party processes of the said election, starting with the primary. I took this momentous decision firstly in the overall interest of the nation in order to enable me to concentrate on my job and assist the President and the government weather the difficult last lap in the life of the administration, and secondly for other family reasons.”
Also, Olawepo-Hashim in a statement by his media office explained that his decision to contest was to offer a national platform for progressive forces who believe in the necessity and possibility of a new Nigeria, but that certain developments necessitated his withdrawal from the race, which was why he didn’t pick the forms.
He said his decision was not out of the lack of will but that sometimes will and resolve, energy and preparation might not be enough to engage in an encounter.
Olawepo-Hashim who was the presidential candidate of The Peoples Trust in the 2019 election said, “My current political pursuit must now bow to our collective national interest. It is not about me but about Nigeria.
“I stepped aside believing that another day would come. I hope our party will still be able to find a candidate for the 2023 election that will unite and secure our country. One that will lead an inclusive government and build a prosperous economy that will not leave anyone behind. I leave the race believing that by the grace of God my own day will come.”
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