THE Minister of Labour and Employment Chris Ngige has said he would not disclose his preferred presidential candidate for the 2023 election between his ruling party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Labour Party (LP).
During an interview on Channels TV on Friday night, Ngige failed to endorse either Bola Tinubu of the APC or Peter Obi of the LP.
His interviewer, Seun Okinbaloye, had asked him, “You have your very good very friend as the candidate of the Labour Party at the time that people in your region are clamouring for an Igbo President. Now that you have one, how difficult is it to support Bola Tinubu against Peter Obi?
Ngige answered, “Seun, you like pushing people into a corner. I’ve told you I’m not active. You even notice that I’m not active in politics for now because I’m facing a national assignment. Why are you asking me a difficult question? Both of them are my friends. That’s what you’ve said.”
The host asked him further to make a choice between the two candidates.
The minister said, “No, forget it; my choice will be on the ballot. On the day of the ballot, I’ll make my choice.”
The host pressured him further if he would vote his conscience rather than go for his party’s candidate, which is expected of a person of his standing.
Ngige, who is visibly perturbed, retorted, “Forget it, whether conscience or no conscience, that day, in February, one vote (referring to himself).”
Unsatisfied with the minister’s response, Okinbaloye asked him to tell the nation if he would go for a candidate he preferred against strictly going for his party’s candidate at the poll.
“Why did you say so? It is a secret ballot. I wouldn’t tell Nigerians what I will do secretly,” the minister told him.
Ngige said he was proud of the track records of both candidates.
He, however, said Tinubu was the architect of the transformation of Lagos, and he (Ngige) engineered the development of Anambra State before Obi took over from him.
He also declined to respond to questions on who performed better in office as governor between Tinubu and Obi.
Recall that Ngige had purchased the APC N100 million form to vie for the party’s presidential ticket against Tinubu before stepping down his bid.
He was elected Anambra State governor in 2003 when Tinubu won his re-election as Lagos State governor.
Ngige, a medical doctor, has been a minister and has maintained his portfolio in Buhari’s government since the president formed his cabinet in 2015.
He hails from the Idemili Local Government Area of Anambra State, while Peter Obi is from Agulu, Anaochi Local Government Area of the state.
Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi and his Imo State counterpart, Hope Uzodinma belong to the APC, like Ngige.
The ICIR reports that Tinubu, Obi, and candidates of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) and the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP), Atiku Abubakar and Rabiu Kwankwaso, respectively, are seeking to become Nigeria’s next president after Buhari leaves office on May 29, 2023.
The presidential election will be held on February 25.