Former presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Dr Oby Ezekwesili on Monday in Abuja gave reasons why she suddenly withdrew from 2019 presidential race.
Ezekwesili shocked Nigerians, particularly her supporters, when on January 24 she announced her unexpected withdrawal from the race to occupy the office of Nigerian President.
Shortly after she announced her withdrawal from the race, ACPN party leaders moved their support base to the presidential candidate of All Progressive Congress (APC), Muhammadu Buhari.
They equally accused Ezekwesili of using their party platform to enrich herself and negotiate for political position in the coming administration.
After almost two weeks of silence, the former education minister addressed a press conference in Abuja, to tell her own side of the story and also explain why she disappointed her supporters by her ending her presidential ambition.
Ezekwesili accused the ACPN of outright violations of written and unwritten agreements reached prior to October 2018, when she formally indicated interest in the presidential race.
“ACPN leadership approached me with an appeal to run for the presidency on its political platform. After my research, I discovered that the party was founded by some disgruntled PDP members some years ago, but when its prime founder decided to return to the PDP, a core of its membership refused to return with him.
“They stayed back because of their opposition to the ways of the PDP. Considering my vocal disapproval of the PDP and APC, I admired the ACPN’s decision to stand firm and refuse to be co-opted.
“We held several meetings before I chose to run on the platform, and in each meeting, I was clear to all that if the target was the same transactional money-grabbing politics that has held us back, I would never go along with it.
“My public stance that nomination form for Presidency should not be above N100,000 was acceded to by the Party, while they pressed me to join their fold. I also privately and publicly during the convention that adopted me as their presidential candidate disclosed that there was no personal war-chest for politics available to me and called on the Party to get ready for all of us to disrupt the traditional way of campaigning by the dominant parties.
“I knew I will face tests of my values as time went by, but I never expected soon and not from party members who had assured me privately and publicly that they were on the same page with me. I never knew that in truth, our values were poles apart.”
She said the ACPN leadership “demonstrated they never believe in my advocacy for a cleaner politics. And they were not really interested in being a vehicle to break the bad politics championed by the APC and PDP.
“At a point,” Ezekwesili explained, “the ACPN leadership acted like a junior sibling to the twin #APCPDP party. There was a time we scheduled a meeting with state coordinators. Instead of the ACPN leadership to be honest about the strengths of the party and explained that some states have no coordinators, they hired fake coordinators, and asked the campaign to fly them into Abuja.
“My relationship with the ACPN became problematic when they faced the reality of my modest financial means that I had transparently disclosed to them from the beginning. They were unhappy that I was unwilling to use my global network to get some countries, organizations and foreigners to donate money to their Party.
“The more I told them that I was committed to the provisions of the Electoral Act and INEC rules on campaign finance and was not going to negotiate that in order to satisfy their monetary demands, the more frustrated they became.
“I noticed that I could either give in to their desperation to satisfy them or uphold my values and leave their fold. I could also succumb to their pressure or step up at great personal cost to myself.
“I weighed the options in clear terms, and the choice was easy, that I can’t do anything that contradicts my eternal values. 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. I had to live my values; I had to follow my truth. And I am proud I did.”
She asked Nigerians to disregard statements being sponsored by her former party, and to remain committed to her vision of being a catalyst for political change in Nigeria.
Ezekwesili apologized to her supporters who might have been disappointed by her action, and encouraged them to join her to support a consensus candidate that would emerge very soon.