The Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo has defended his continued stay in office despite accepting to serve as campaign spokesman for the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, blaming the call for his resignation on the opposition.He stressed that he had not violated any section of the constitution by remaining in office as a minister.
A pro-democracy Organisation, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) was reported to have demanded the resignation of Keyamo on grounds that his current assignment as campaign spokesman was going to conflict with his duties as minister.
The Chairman of TMG, Awwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani, had said Keyamo’s resignation would afford him better opportunity to do his campaigning.“The Transition Monitoring Group is urging him (Keyamo) to step aside and focus on his new work so that there won’t be too much conflict of interest and there will be productivity in the work he is doing as spokesperson.“Combining these roles is completely a conflict of interest. He is to speak for the general public as a minister but now, his job is for his presidential candidate,” he said.
However, in a statement yesterday, in response to THISDAY’s request, Keyamo said as a member of the APC he was entitled to participate in party activities.He said as far the Electoral Act was concerned, serving in such dual capacities does not violate the rule.He said: “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
“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,” he said.Keyamo attributed the call for his exit as minister to people he said were working in alliance with the 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.”
Speaking about his office, Keyamo said he has not allowed his new assignment affect his work as Minister.“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 is incorrect,” he said.
Culled from THISDAY