A former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, Dr Obiageli Ezekwesili, on Monday explained that she withdrew from the race because of the desperation of the leadership of the party to get money from her foreign contacts.
She also described as “more laughable moments”, allegations that her presidential candidacy was a scheme to negotiate for a ministerial position.
She said the claim was “the height of political comedy.”
The PUNCH reported that the national chairman of ACPN and running mate to Ezekwesili, Alhaji Gani Galadima, endorsed the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress barely three hours after her withdrawal from the presidential race.
The party had also threatened to drag Ezekwesili to court if she refused to return all the materials and donations she received within the short time she was in the ACPN.
But at a press conference in Abuja on Monday, the former Minister of Education described the party’s endorsement of Buhari and the APC as “a classic somersault.”
At the event, the Oby Ezekwesili Presidential Campaign Council gave a detailed account of how funds received from donors were spent.
Ezekwesili said, “At one point, we were supposed to have a meeting with all the state coordinators of the party. Instead of the ACPN leadership to be honest about the strengths of the party and explain that some states did not have coordinators at the time, they hired fake coordinators, and asked the campaign to fly them into Abuja.
“You all saw how they demonstrated their preferred brand of politics by endorsing the ruling APC in a classic summersault. Deceptive politics of transactions at its worst! God forbid that I should in any way participate in such.
“Their actions last week did not surprise me one bit. My relationship with the ACPN became problematic once they faced the reality of my modest financial means that I had transparently disclosed to them from the beginning. Their mistake was that they harboured two wrong assumptions about me.
“First, they assumed that I was one of those who served in government and had a stash of looted public funds hidden somewhere to expend on the elections. When they realised that was not the case, they made a second wrong assumption by believing that I would be willing to go and obtain foreign cash to prosecute my campaign.
“The leadership of the party became frustrated that I was not using my global network to get some countries, organisations and foreigners to donate money to their party like the APC and Peoples Democratic Party do.
“The more I told them that I was committed to abide strictly by the provisions of the Electoral Act and rules of the Independent National Electoral Commission on campaign finance and was not going to negotiate that in order to satisfy their monetary demands, the more frustrated they became.”
The former minister said she could not do anything that contradicts her eternal values.
She added, “For someone who was running for office with a promise to fix our politics, getting mired in the mud of transactional anti-people politics would have represented a quick fall. God forbid! I had to live my values; I had to follow my truth. And I am proud I did.
“The only thing I now owe the ACPN is a total and immediate separation from their camp. I have earlier today returned my ACPN membership card, party flag and other paraphernalia in order to signpost my complete separation.”