Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Thursday withdrew from the presidential race to help build a coalition to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 16, 2019 election. In a statement issued by Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, spokesperson for the
Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN), Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Thursday withdrew from the presidential race to help build a coalition to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 16, 2019 election.
In a statement issued by Mr Ozioma Ubabukoh, spokesperson for the Obiageli Ezekwesili Presidential Campaign Organisation, Ezekwesili, a former World Bank Vice President for Africa, was quoted as saying that her decision to withdraw from the race followed extensive discussions with Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora.
According to the two portfolio former Minister, who had made some appreciable showing with her neighbourhood campaigns, her action was also informed by an examination of the country’s electoral environment sequel to the 2019 presidential debate on Saturday, January 19, 2019.
“This decision followed extensive consultations with leaders from various walks of life across the country over the past few days. I deem it necessary for me to focus on helping to build a veritable coalition to ensure a viable alternative to the #APCPDP in the forthcoming elections,” the statement read.
She said, “It is my ardent belief that this broad coalition for a viable alternative has now become more than ever before, an urgent mission for and on behalf of Nigerian citizens. I have therefore chosen to lead the way in demonstrating the much needed patriotic sacrifice for our national revival and redirection.”
“I wish to state that over the past three months, I have been in private, but extended talks with other candidates to birth a coalition that would allow Nigerians to exercise their choice without feeling helplessly encumbered by the evil twins of #APCPDP,” says Ezekwesili, a former Education Minister, whose presidential campaign was hinged on a new deal that promised to lift 80 million Nigerians out of poverty..
“While the deliberations continued, I never hesitated for a moment in my willingness and determination to sacrifice my candidacy in order to facilitate the emergence of the envisaged strong and viable alternative that Nigerians could identify with in our collective search for a new beginning,” she quips.
“My commitment to this promising political recalibration has been consistent and in consonance with my agreement, at the request of candidates under the Presidential Aspirants Coming Together, PACT, arrangement in 2018, when I consented to supervise the internal selection process as an outside observer passionate about building an alternative force.”
Ezekwesili, who also headed the Public Procurement Office otherwise called the Due Process Office also said, “despite resistance from 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 so as to focus squarely on building the coalition to a logical conclusion.”
“We have no right to allow citizens give in to despair. We will #Fight4Naija together and prove to all that the mess, which the political class has now become, should not be allowed to destroy our spirits and 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.”
She added, “From last year, when I joined the presidential race, I made it clear to Nigerians that the country has always had a 20-year cycle of change – 1958, 1979, and 1999. As such, 2019 begins another 20-year cycle, and together with all Nigerians of good will, I stand ready to play my part to ensure that we do not miss this golden opportunity to sing a new song.”
“There is no more time to waste. Let’s get to work!”
Ubabukoh thanked Nigerians, including campaign donors and volunteers, who supported Ezekwesili, saying that “every money donated to the campaign and funds spent will be accounted for.
Also a former Minister for Solid Minerals, Ezekwesili had before now aligned with three other presidential candidates, Mr Omoyele Sowore of the African Action Congress (AAC), Dr Kingsley Moghalu, Young Progressive Party (YPP), and Mr Fela Durotoye of the Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) under PACT to nominate a common candidate amongst them. But in spite of the emergence of Durotoye at a selection process supervised by Ezekwesili, the candidates opted to continue their individual campaigns.
No doubt, many may have been disappointed by the withdrawal of Ezekwesili who had a stint working with renowned Professor Jeffrey Sachs at the Centre for International Development at Harvard University and comes across with intimidating credentials both from the public and private sectors. In a contest packed with 73 candidates angling for the presidency including the incumbent, President Muhammadu Buhari, she had some significant mark
With a Masters in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos and Masters in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Ezekwesili, a Chartered Accountant who trained with the firm of Delloite and Touche has proved her mettle as possessing the skills to lead Africa’s most populous country. Her drawback was the absence of a huge financial war chest and a cohesive political structure to prosecute the campaign.
One of the founders of the global anti-corruption watchdog, Transparency International, Ezekwesili, a former chairperson of the Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (NEITI), is also one of the conveners of the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) movement which spearheaded the campaign for the release of the Government Secondary School, Chibok, Bornu state forcibly seized from their hostel by the Islamic terrorist group, Boko Haram.
The thrust of her campaign was to engender a prosperous country. Titled “From Poverty Central to Prosperity: How Obiageli Ezekwesili Presidency Will Lift 80 Million Nigerians Out of Poverty,” her 7,979 word policy document unveiled during her recent campaign, is premised on “a dream of an inclusive and prosperous country where there is equality of opportunity for all”.
With a largely neo-liberal policy slant, she believes that the private sector and a market driven economy is crucial to stimulating the engine of growth and development in the world’s largest Black Country.