British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her resignation in an emotional address on Friday, ending a dramatic three-year tenure of near-constant crisis over Brexit.
“It is and will always remain a matter of deep regret to me that I have not been able to deliver Brexit,” May, her voice breaking, said outside her Downing Street office.
May, 62, said she would step down as Conservative Party leader on June 7.
She would remain as prime minister in a caretaker role until a replacement is elected by the party.
May, who took charge in the aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum, was forced to make way following a mutiny in her cabinet and Conservative Party over her ill-fated strategy to take Britain out of the European Union.
She will become one of Britain’s shortest-serving post-WWII prime ministers, remembered for presiding over one of the most chaotic periods in the country’s modern political history and for her inability to deliver Brexit.
“I will shortly leave the job that it has been the honour of my life to hold — the second female prime minister but certainly not the last,” May said.
“I do so with no ill-will, but with enormous and enduring gratitude to have had the opportunity to serve the country I love,” she said, appearing close to tears as she turned back abruptly and walked back into her office.
Brexit in limbo
May was pushed into the humiliating spectacle of announcing her departure from office following a meeting with the head of the Conservative Party committee in charge of leadership elections.
She had previously said she would step aside once her unpopular EU divorce deal had been passed by parliament, and this week launched a short-lived bid for lawmakers to approve it in early June, that has now been postponed.
MPs have overwhelmingly rejected the withdrawal agreement she struck with European Union leaders last year three times, brutally weakening May on each occasion.
With her resignation, the manner of Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union appears more uncertain than ever.
She had been under growing pressure to quit following months of political paralysis over Brexit, which have intensified in recent weeks following disastrous results in the May 2 English local elections.
The Conservatives are expected to fare similarly badly in this week’s European Parliament elections when the results are announced late Sunday.
‘One last roll of the dice’
May’s latest effort to force through her despised Brexit deal, which included giving MPs the option of holding a referendum on the agreement, proved her final undoing.
The move prompted a furious reaction from Conservatives — including cabinet members.
“I thought she deserved one last roll of the dice. But she took those dice and threw them off the table,” a senior minister told The Times.
The clamour for her to stand down reached fever pitch after Andrea Leadsom — one of cabinet’s strongest Brexit backers — resigned on Wednesday from her post as the government’s representative in parliament.
She became the 36th minister to quit May’s dismally dysfunctional government — a modern record.
In her resignation letter Leadsom told the prime minister she no longer believed her approach to Brexit would deliver on the 2016 referendum result to leave the EU.
Several senior cabinet ministers reportedly then held “frank” talks with May on Thursday.
May’s departure will kickstart a Conservative Party leadership contest — already unofficially underway — that is expected to encompass more than a dozen candidates and favour a Brexiteer.
That could lead to Britain, which has already twice delayed its departure from the European Union, opting to leave the bloc without a deal on October 31, the extended deadline agreed with Brussels last month.
Tory MPs will hold a series of votes to whittle the contenders down to a final two that will be put to the party’s more than 100,000 members.
Former foreign secretary and gaffe-prone Brexit cheerleader Boris Johnson is the membership’s favourite, but a considerable number of Conservative MPs are thought to hold serious reservations about his suitability for the top job.
He has repeatedly said Britain should not fear a so-called no-deal Brexit.
May was the surprising victor in a 2016 leadership contest to replace predecessor David Cameron after he resigned in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum
Despite having campaigned to stay in the EU, she embraced the cause with the mantra “Brexit means Brexit”.
However the decision to hold a disastrous snap election in June 2017, when she lost her parliamentary majority, left her stymied.
May will leave office without any significant achievements to her name — other than the bungled handling of Brexit, according to political analysts.
“She doesn’t really have a legacy that she can call her own other than just having to manage what is a very difficult issue,” said Simon Usherwood, from the University of Surrey’s politics department.
“I think anybody in her position would have had great difficulty.”
Others were more brutal in their assessment.
“It was only an impossible job because she made it one,” said Tim Bale of Queen Mary University of London.
INEC continues to deny existence of server
The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) yesterday insisted that the results of the 2019 general election were not transmitted electronically to its server, stressing that the commission only experimented with the technology during some staggered elections held in 2018.
The commission said that the clarification was necessary because of rising controversy on the transmission of 2019 presidential election results from states to the INEC server.
Speaking during the post-election retreat organized by the commission for its staff and ad hoc staff engaged for the last general elections in Osun State, INEC National Commissioner, Mr. Solomon Soyebi, explained that many factors forced the commission to drop the idea of electronic transmission of the results to a central server.
Soyebi added that INEC experimented with electronic transmission of results during Anambra, Sokoto and Osun States’ elections held before 2019 elections but the commission did not sustain the use of the technology during the 2019 general election.
He maintained that the late release of INEC’s budget for the 2019 elections and controversy over the Electoral Act, among other reasons, forced the commission to jettison the idea of using the technology to transmit results to the central server.
He explained: “We piloted the use of transmission of election results electronically in Sokoto, in Anambra, even in Osun. What happened was that we were trying to pilot to see the desirability of such technology in our electoral process.
“First, our budget came out very late; there was also issue (with) the Electoral Act. For these and some other reasons, the commission did not adopt that option. 2019 elections were conducted according to law.
“We used the Constitution of the Federal Republic; we used the Electoral Act and our guidelines for 2019 elections. If you look at the three instruments carefully, the issue of the server was not highlighted.
“Once in a while, you will see an experiment going on but we have to pilot it before we will deploy wholesale for election.
More foreign observers knock 2019 general elections
Two United States’ institutes that monitored the 2019 general elections said yesterday that the election did not meet previous standards and the expectations of Nigerians. In their Joint report, presented in Abuja, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) said that 2019 elections were marred by irregularities, such as intimidation of voters/electoral officials, vote buying and election-related violence.
They also condemned the suspension of the former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, saying the judiciary plays a crucial role in post-election matters.
“Although many new political parties nominated candidates for the 2019 elections, the polls were largely a contest between the incumbent All Progressives Congress (APC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP); the APC hoped to renew the mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari and consolidate its majority in the National Assembly and of governorship. However, the party faced internal wrangling and defections of some key figures in the months to the polls.
“The PDP fielded former Vice President Atiku Abubakar as its standard bearer and, entering the process for the first time as an opposition party, challenged the APC: record, claiming the ruling party not kept its campaign promises to fight corruption, improve security and boost the economy’’, the report said.
The IRI/NDI observation mission said that the 2019 elections did not meet the expectations of many Nigerians.
On security and elections related-violence, the report said, “Ahead of the 2019 polls, the poor security situation in Nigeria, mainly attributed to Boko Haram’s resurgence in the North-east, inter-communal violence in the Middle Belt and widespread crime and banditry, raised concerns about the safety of voters and candidates.
“Increased politically-motivated violence and conflict in the pre-election period was also a concern, especially around political party primaries in some areas.’’
The report further stated that for many Nigerians, the 2019 elections-the sixth since the country’s 1999 transition back to civilian democratic rule, were an opportunity to consolidate democratic gains and build on sound electoral practices.
‘’Significant improvements in the administration of the 2011 and 2015 elections boosted expectations in the 2019 electoral process. Moreover, Nigeria’s first peaceful transfer of power between political parties following the 2015 elections underscored for Nigerians that credible elections matter,” the report said.
The joint report further said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on February 16 showed that INEC had underestimated challenges associated with the administration of the elections.
According to the report, “the commission did not communicate sufficiently with political parties and the public about election preparations. Such a late postponement likely depressed voter turnout and created confusion about the duration of candidate and party.
‘’Most significantly, the delay also undermined public confidence in INEC. After the one-week postponement, it increased its public outreach and communications through regular press briefings. Since the polls, however INEC has been slow to release information, including detailed results.’’
The report said that the last-minute postponement of the presidential and National Assembly elections on the morning of February 16, and delays in opening some polling units and other administrative challenges on February 23 undermined public confidence in INEC.
Ex-minister’s son abducted at gunpoint
Some unknown gunmen on Tuesday evening abducted Dayo Adewole, who is the son of the immediate past Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole. The military, the police, security agents and local hunters were already on the trail of the kidnappers as at press time.
The ex-minister has, however, been forced to cut short his trip abroad.
The abductors were yet to contact the family on their motive and the condition of their victim.
According to a source, Dayo was ambushed at gunpoint on his farm in Iroko, near Fiditi in Afijio Local Government Area of Oyo State at about 6 pm.
Although there were some employees with Dayo, the abductors went for him as a prime target.
It was gathered that the kidnappers later took Dayo away to an unknown destination.
A source said: “The villagers were alerted by the staff who survived the ordeal. Local hunters were mobilized by the Oniroko of Iroko.
“The hunters were said to have located the car of the abductors along the road to Iware village near Iroko
“But they are yet to locate Dayo’s whereabouts. It was suspected that the kidnappers might have changed their vehicle following persistent announcement on the radio after Oniroko had raised the alarm on air.”
Findings confirmed that the military, the police, and security agencies have joined forces with the villagers to search for Dayo.
A top official of the Federal Ministry of Health said: “We are in sad mood over the abduction. Dayo was a graduate of agriculture and he opted for farming.
“He has been managing his farm peacefully in Iroko until he was abducted by some gunmen on Tuesday.”
Responding to a question, the official said: “The ex-minister left for abroad last Thursday for recess but he is on his way back. He has cut short his trip.
“The military, the police, and other security agencies are on top of the situation.”
Imo Governor suspends LG chairmen
Imo State Governor Emeka Ihedioha has suspended chairmen, vice chairmen, councilors and political appointees of the local governments for six months. The suspension is contained in the instrument signed by the Governor, pursuant to the recommendation made to him by the Imo State House of Assembly.
This is in pursuant also, to the provisions of Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Local Government Administration (Amendment) law, 2019 and S.73(3) of Imo State Local Government Administration Law No 15 of 2000 (as amended) and all other laws enabling him.
He set up Interim Management Committees to manage the affairs of each Local Government.
Consequently, the Directors of Administration and General Services(DAGS) of each Local Government have been directed to take over management, pending the confirmation of Interim Management Committees by the State Assembly.
He also removed the chairman and members of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission (ISIEC).
This is following a resolution supported by a two-thirds majority of the State Assembly rendered on 6th June 2019 seeking their removal from office.
The action is also in accordance with the provisions of S.7(1) of the Imo State Independent Electoral Commission Law and all other extant laws of the State.
The Commission will be reconstituted in due course to put in place the machinery for conducting a credible election into the local governments.
The Governor further directed that these officers handover to the most senior civil servant in the Commission.
The governor also dissolved all statutory boards, corporations, agencies, and parastatals. This is in line with relevant enabling laws of the state.
A statement by his Chief Press Secretary Chibuike Onyeukwu directed the chairmen and sacked to handover to the most senior civil servant in their various establishments.