* Said he did not violate Nigerian law
Minister of State for Labor and Employment, Mr. Festus Keyamo, has defended his continued office despite agreeing to serve as a campaign spokesperson for the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate , Bola Tinubu, accusing the call for his resignation from the opposition.
He stressed that he had not violated any section of the constitution by remaining in office as a minister.
A pro-democracy organization, the Transition Monitoring Group (TMG) reportedly demanded Keyamo’s resignation on the grounds that his current role as campaign spokesperson would conflict with his duties as minister.
TMG chairman Awwal Ibrahim Rafsanjani had said Keyamo’s resignation would give him a better chance to campaign.
“The Transition Monitoring Group urges him (Keyamo) to step aside and focus on his new job so that there are not too many conflicts of interest and there is productivity in the work he does as a spokesperson.
“The combination of these roles is completely a conflict of interest. He has to speak to the general public as a minister, but now his job is for his presidential candidate,” he said.
However, in a statement yesterday, Keyamo said that as a member of the APC he had the right to participate in party activities.
He said that as far as election law is concerned, serving in such 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 campaign spokesperson and that of Minister for the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“What does the law say? Article 84 of the Election Law clearly states that political appointees must resign if they are to stand for party or public office. No mention was made ad hoc meetings for party activities, so strictly speaking no law is broken here.
“Therefore, the so-called position of these people is untenable, misinformed and therefore rejected. They are worried about the strong defense of our party and government that we are putting in place and the unblemished projection of Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (our candidate) that we are making.
“I’m 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 opposition parties but masquerading as CSOs.
“We know them. I do not recall a single statement like this from these people throughout the PDP era, when PDP ministers were fully involved in presidential campaign activities.
“For example, in 2015, my brother, Special Affairs Minister Kabiru Turaki served as Deputy Director General (North) of the PDP/Jonathan Campaign Council. These characters kept mom. So you can be sure it is PDP speaking through one of their NGOs.
“Secondly, I am a full member of my party, the APC, and I have the right to participate in party activities. My party dues are deducted each month from my meager salary and sent to the party. Being a director in a campaign council is like all other party activities. They want to deprive me of my basic human right to freedom of association because I am a minister.
“Thirdly, there is no conflict of interest. I don’t see any. Am I using public resources to campaign? No way. We have an APC campaign office and I have my well-furnished private rooms, better equipped than my minister’s office.
Speaking from his office, Keyamo said he did not let his new assignment affect his work as a minister.
“It’s now recorded and my permanent secretary can attest to that. I give interviews after my workday or on weekends or during breaks. Fourth, campaign managers are volunteers; at least I am.
“We don’t get a single salary or compensation for our work, so the claim of double privilege is incorrect,” he said.
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