The Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige on Friday dropped his ambition to contest for the position of president at the May 31 primaries of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
Ngige in a statement on Friday announced his withdrawal from the race to succeed President Muhammadu Buhari in 2023, despite the fact that he attended the valedictory session organised by the president to other ministers with political ambition..
He had declared his intention to run for President in the forthcoming polls while addressing a crowd of supporters on April 19 at his hometown in Idemili South Local Government Area of Anambra State.
However, on Wednesday during the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting in Abuja, President Buhari directed all appointed members of the cabinet running for elective offices to resign on or before May 16 – a directive which affected Ngige.
While the President went further to organise a valedictory session for the affected persons to appreciate them for their service, the labour minister decided to keep his ministerial job by opting out of the presidential race.
In the statement, the minister said he had yet to fill and submit the N100 million worth expression of interest and nomination forms of the APC bought for him, he explained that dropping his presidential ambition was in the interest of the nation.
“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 election.
“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.”
Ngige said he chose to pull out of the race to assist the president and the federal government to “weather the difficult last lap” of the administration.
The minister also cited family reasons as part of the motivation to no longer pursue his ambition.
He stated that he has since communicated his decision to President Buhari and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.
Observers are, however, not sure if Ngige will still be able to retain his position in the cabinet despite the late hour withdrawal of his bids to succeed the president.