..SAYS IT’S TOO LATE
Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili had earlier on Thursday announced her withdrawal from the presidential race whose election has been scheduled to hold on February 16. 2019, a period which is barely 3 weeks away from now.
However, The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has refuted the former Minister’s withdrawal from the race, saying it is too late for her to withdraw as the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN).
Mr Rotimi Oyekanmi, the Chief Press Secretary to INEC Chairman Professor Mahmood Yakubu, said, taking such a step at this time is not in conformity with the constitution as amended.
Mr Oyekanmi said “The deadline for Ezekwesili or any candidate in that category to withdraw or be replaced has passed”.
Mr. Oyekanmi further emphasized that candidates are free to withdraw their candidature but in Ezekwesili’s case the timing is the problem.
He said according to section 35 of the electoral act, “you can indicate that willingness not later than 45 days to the General Elections”.
The INEC Chairman’s spokesperson noted that in the 2019 schedule of activities, 17th of November 2018 was the last day for withdrawal or replacement of candidates.
He also noted that though Ezekwesili cannot be forced to participate in the election, still she cannot withdraw because that is against the constitution.
He concluded that if she had earlier indicated her withdrawal, the opportunity would have been given to the party for a replacement, adding that it is now to late a time to do so.
Though, the former minister Dr. Obiageli had explained that she took the decision to help build a coalition to prevent the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from winning the election, the ACPN has excoriated her for withdrawing from the race and alleged that her presidential aspiration was not real.
ACPN has claimed that Dr. Ezekwelisi backed out of the presidential race without notifying any of the party leadership whose mandate she was holding.
The party finally repudiated her support for the presidential campaign of Ezekwesili and endorsed the second term bid of President Muhammadu Buhari.