Season Of Withdrawals As Dr Oby Ezekwesili Steps Down From Presidential Race, Sowore, Durotoye, Set To Do The Same
eThe presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, who did so well in stating the mission, vision and plans of her party at the just concluded presidential debates, has withdrawn from the presidential race, just four weeks to the elections, slated to hold on February 16.
In a statement released on Thursday morning, Dr. Ezekwesili said she stepped down from the election to help build a coalition to defeat the ruling party, the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the major opposition, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), in the upcoming election:
“Following the reactions of Nigerian citizens at home and abroad to the 2019 Presidential Debate held on Saturday 19 January 2019, and after extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days, I have decided to step down from the presidential race and focus on helping to build a Coalition for a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the 2019 general elections. This coalition for a viable alternative has now more than ever before become an urgent mission for, and on behalf of the citizenry.
“Despite disagreements within the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria on these and other issues, I have decided that it is now necessary to show by action and example my determination on this issue, by stepping down my candidacy and focusing on building the coalition once and for all. We have no right to allow citizens give in to despair. We will #Fight4Naija together and prove to all that the mess that has now become the political class will not be allowed to destroy our spirits, and the nation. We are also determined to ensure that the message keeps resonating that our beloved country deserves better, and that we will get the best that we deserve.”
In a swift move, The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) responded to Oby’s action, saying it is too late for any candidate to withdraw from the elections. The Director, Voter Education and Publicity, Oluwole Osaze-Uzzi, said this during a chat with Punch Newspaper correspondent same day in Abuja.
The INEC official said it had become too late for any candidate to withdraw because it had released its final list of candidates last week. Osaze-Uzzi said, “According to the Electoral Act, there is a time for withdrawal and that time has passed. We have published a list of candidates and on election day, these are the parties that you will see. It is too late.”
The Presidential candidate of the Alliance for New Nigeria, Mr. Fela Durotoye, had also announced that he would be willing to step down like Ezekwesili, in order to form a coalition that could defeat the incumbent. Also, Omoyele Sowore, presidential candidate of the African Action Congress (AAC), has restated his commitment to “coalition talks” if they arise. This much was made known in a statement he released on same Thursday, in reaction to the decision of Dr Oby Ezekwesili, to step down from the presidential race.
Sowore’s statement reads, “Earlier today, Dr Oby Ezekwesili stepped down from the presidential race. I want to thank Dr Ezekwesili for her service to the Nigerian nation. Her participation in the presidential race enriched the level of discourse and demonstrated that new breed of committed and patriotic individuals, who are not part of the establishment parties, have emerged to offer Nigeria a new direction. Dr Ezekwesili’s departure from the presidential race and her renewal of her commitment to a progressive platform that will reclaim Nigeria from 20 years of corruption and inept leadership under the APC and PDP, has renewed calls from a broad section of Nigerians for coalition talks.
I have always believed that it will take a true partnership of progressives and committed patriots to move this nation forward. It is not just politically pragmatic to do so, it is the way that I have always worked. Every political battle that I have waged on behalf of the Nigerian people has been done through coalitions and partnerships. For instance, it took a coalition that involved the students’ movement, pro-democracy organisations, progressive politicians, human rights groups and labour unions to fight against the annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections. A similar coalition was necessary to force the military out of our power and restore democracy in 1999. That is why the TakeItBack Movement, and the African Action Congress, have remained supportive of various efforts towards building a unified platform. We have never ceased talking, engaging and working with other organizations, parties and individuals, towards building a unifying platform.
I also want to thank my brother Fela Durotoye, for his public reaffirmation of his commitment to that process. It is important that Nigerians know that for the last four months my team and I have been in discussions at various times, under various auspices, with the Durotoye, Moghalu, Ezekwesili and Duke teams. I reaffirm my commitment to that effort. We will continue to push forward with our goal of reclaiming Nigeria, conscious of the fact that this is a vision that is shared by tens of millions of our fellow country men and women. United we stand!”
As expected, social media has been agog, especially as Oby’s former party the ACPN read a statement where they indicted Oby of corruption regarding the campaign funds, and at same time endorsed President Muhammadu Buhari for a second term. Some social media fans applauded Oby for her move, while others criticized her. Dr Oby deemed it necessary to explain herself through her Facebook account and this is what she wrote.
NO AMOUNT OF LIES CAN STOP THE EMERGENCE OF A NEW POLITICAL MINDSET AND ORDER.
Three hours ago, I arrived far flung Cabo in Mexico where our Albert Einstein’s Genius100 Visionaries meeting is holding. I was delighted to read reactions of real patriots to my announcement that I’ve decided to withdraw from the 2019 Presidential race& end my membership of Allied Congress Party of Nigeria- ACPN. I have also seen the reaction of ACPN leadership to my decision. Fortunately, they have divinely helped me by making the Nigerian public now fully understand why I had to swiftly depart from their midst. How could I upon realizing the divergence of values and vision with the leadership of the Party continue to stand on such a political platform? My abiding vision has been to mobilize citizens to disrupt the old order politics of APCPDP.
Nigeria and Nigerians deserve a New Order of ethical, competent and capable leadership which I had mistakenly assumed the ACPN was aligned with me to offer, until it proved otherwise. The values and vision divergence with the Party was a key factor that triggered my withdrawal from the Presidential race on their ticket prompting me to dissociate immediately in order to help build a coalition for Good Governance. It is why I was instant in sacrificing my candidacy to uphold my values by withdrawing. The Party’s decision to immediately today endorse the candidate of APC which was announced by my erstwhile VP candidate who is also the Chairman of ACPN was their classic political entrepreneurship in full display for Nigerians to see. It is instructive.
The Party leadership’s transactional approach to Politics began to manifest in their attitude after the Convention that adopted me as their Presidential Candidate. All who know me can attest that I detest transactional mindset. I would have none of such and therefore extremely delighted to part ways after a tumultuous three months of hoping that the ACPN leadership would elevate to the new values of disruptive politics that one had desired for and preached within the Party. As for the defamatory statements made against my person by the ACPN leadership in their malicious statement, I want Nigerians to know that there is NO IOTA of truth in any of them. Everything ACPN wrote or said of the campaign donations is fabrication & outright lies. Our Campaign was conducted with the highest level of transparency and accountability with impeccable evidence. I know and can always guarantee that because, these standards firmly underpin my commitment to lasting values and professionalism.
Only those who desperately wish to believe falsehoods would lend any credence to such puerile accusations by the leadership of ACPN. Only those who pretend ignorance of my legendary and uncompromising passion for accountability would give heed to such baseless statement. I have declined any interviews until my return to Nigeria upon which I shall hold a World Press Conference to engage Nigerians on the actions I shall take even as we present full report of our 3-month old Campaign for the 2019 presidential election to the public. I want to again thank all who supported us in the last three months with their talent, time and treasure to run a formidable Campaign. Without your support we would never have attained the height #Hope2019 achieved. You gave our Disruptive Campaign real VALUE.
We shall at the World Press Conference also provide insights into the citizens movement that we are energized and committed to build. There is no end to our zeal to end the reign of Bad Politics in our country. Finally, take it from me that WE shall build the Coalition force that will terminate the poverty escalating governance of the two dominant parties in the 2019 election.
We are citizens of Nigeria. And we are resolved.
What do you think of this new Coalition to rescue Nigeria??