By Festus Keyamo, SAN
My attention has been drawn to a statement by a certain CSO alleging a conflict of interest between my role as a Campaign Spokesperson and as Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Firstly, without meaning to demean them, these are people fully aligned to opposition parties but disguising as CSOs. We know them. I cannot recall a single statement like this from these people throughout the PDP era when PDP Ministers were fully involved in Presidential campaign activities.
For instance in 2015, my brother, Special Duties Minister, Kabiru Turaki, served as the Deputy Director-General (North) of the PDP/Jonathan Campaign Council. These characters kept mum. So, you can be sure that this is PDP speaking through one of their NGOs.
Secondly, I am a full member of my Party, the APC, and I am entitled to participate in Party activities. My dues to my party is deducted every month from my meagre salary and sent to the Party. Being a Director in a campaign Council is like every other party activity.
They want to deny me my fundamental human right to freedom of association because I am a Minister.
Thirdly, there is no conflict of interests. I fail to see any. Am I using public resources to campaign? Not at all. We have an APC campaign office and I have my well-furnished private chambers, better equipped than my Minister’s Office. Even the car I use to media interviews is not a Ministry car.
Since I became a Minister, the Ministry has not provided a SINGLE car for my personal use. I have been sacrificing for the nation with my personal cars and resources.
This is now on record and my Permanent Secretary can attest to this. I grant interviews after my day’s work or at weekends or at break time.
Fourthly, Campaign Directors are volunteers; at least I am. We are not paid a single salary or allowance for our work, so the allegation of double privilege (whatever that means) is incorrect.
Fiftly, what does the law say? Section 84 of the Electoral Act clearly states that political appointees are to resign if they are to contest for any party position or any public office. No mention was made of ad hoc appointments for party activities. So, strictly speaking, no law is being violated here.
Therefore the so-called position of these people are untenable, ill-informed and consequently rejected. They are jittery about the stout defence of our party and Government we are putting up and the unblemished projection of Asiwaju BOLA Ahmed Tinubu (our candidate) that we are making.
I am sorry to disappoint them, but I will serve my country and I will serve my party.
FESTUS KEYAMO, SAN, FCIArb(Uk)
APC Presidential Campaign Council,
2023 Presidential Election