Chris Steven, Abuja

The campaign team of Oby Ezekwesili, the presidential candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) says the former minister never negotiated for any ministerial slot as being alleged by the leaders of the party after her withdrawal from the race.

The leaders of ACPN on Thursday said Ezekwesili was never serious with her presidential ambition but only used the platform to negotiate for a top ministerial position.

But her media aide, Ozioma Ubabukor, on Friday described the allegations as false and a “clear case of drowning man trying to pull other people along.”

According to PREMIUM TIMES, Ubabukor in his rebuttal said the discussion on forming a coalition had been on for over two months and the party was fully aware and involved.

“The party is much aware. Discussions on a coalition have been on for over two months now. The talks only intensified after Saturday’s presidential debate. If anyone says he or she is not informed, that is a lie.”

He accused the party chairman, Galadima, of kicking against such moves because of “his selfish interests”.

“The allegation that lyinoluwa Aboyeji, our deputy campaign director confided in the party of Ezekwesili plans of negotiating for ministerial spot is baseless and shocking.

“Ms Aboyeji, invested her personal funds in millions for this campaign and there is no way she would have done that if she does not believe in Oby’s candidacy and ambition.”

Talks on forming a coalition among candidates intensified after Ezekwesili backed down.

Omoyele Sowore, Kingsley Moghalu, Fela Durotoye are the major presidential candidates considering the last minute coalition plan. They commended the former World Bank leader on her decision to step aside.

But Tope Fasua, the candidate of the Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP) and a participant of PACT before the arrangement crumbled, remained indifferent about the plan. He said he was going ahead with his campaign despite the call by Ezekwesili to form a coalition.

Fasua, who apparently remained concerned with the manner the PACT election was conducted, suggested that Ezekwesili’s call may be an attempt to “achieve a certain predetermined goal.”

Meanwhile, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has said it is impossible for any candidate at this stage to withdraw because the deadline for such has elapsed.

In line with the commission’s timetable for the election, the last day for withdrawal by candidates or replacement of withdrawn candidates by political parties for the presidential and National Assembly elections was November 17, 2018.

INEC said Ezekwesili’s withdrawal changes nothing as her party and name will still appear on the ballot.

The election is coming up on February 16.

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