Internal wrangling occurred yesterday in the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (APCN) leading to the withdrawal of the party’s presidential candidate, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, from the race. But the party leadership accused her of using the platform to negotiate for ministerial position, threatening to drag her to court if she refused to return campaign donations made to her as its presidential candidate.
Ezekwesili became the ACPN presidential candidate last year and had been campaigning since then, including participating in last week’s presidential debate. She announced her withdrawal from the race in a statement yesterday by the spokesperson of her presidential campaign organisation, Ozioma Ubabukoh.
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), however, said the withdrawal came late as the period allowed for substitution of candidates had elapsed. Ezekwesili, however, promised that “every money donated to the campaign and funds spent will be accounted for in the coming days.”
The former Education Minister said she was stepping aside from the presidential race to help build a coalition to defeat the All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the February 16 election. Ezekwesili said the decision to withdraw from the race followed extensive discussions with Nigerians at home and the Diaspora. This decision, she said, 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.
“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,” she said.