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Ten Nigerian cabinet ministers resign to run in next year's election

By Felix Onuah

Ten Nigerian cabinet ministers, including the junior petroleum minister, have resigned to run in next year's election, the information minister said on Friday, with the president pledging to replace them to keep government running.

On Thursday, the government asked all ministers, ambassadors, agency heads and other political appointees including the central bank governor to resign on or by May 16 if they decide to join the 2023 election race.

Other ministers that resigned include ministers of justice, transport, labour, Niger Delta, science and technology and women's affairs. The junior ministers for mines and education also resigned, information minister Lai Mohammed said.

President Muhammadu Buhari said replacements would be made without delay "so that the business of governance will not suffer".

Buhari, who also acts as the senior petroleum minister, will step down after serving two four-year terms following the February 2023 ballot.

Nigeria is currently faced with an array of challenges as it heads into next year's election, among them the issues of insecurity, terrorism, banditry, kidnapping and ritual killings.

There is also secessionist agitation which has given rise to regional calls for power-sharing between southern and northern Nigeria.

On Wednesday, Buhari directed all appointed officials seeking elected positions to resign.

Vice president Yemi Osinbajo, who wants to succeed Buhari, was exempted from the directive since he was jointly elected with incumbent Buhari.

A ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) party spokesperson said central bank governor Godwin Emefiele may seek the ruling party ticket for the presidential race next year, drawing calls for him to resign over his political ambitions.

Emefiele has asked a federal court to restrain the electoral commission (INEC) and the attorney general from blocking his bid to run for president next year while in office, which the court rejected.

Nigeria's political parties must pick their candidates by June 3. Buhari's APC will hold primary elections to select candidates, include for president, at the end of this month.

More than 20 APC candidates have so far registered to contest the primary vote for the presidential ticket.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Toby Chopra and Angus MacSwan)

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