Mass defection looms, mode of primaries tear APC
When the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress, APC, first met with the National Executive Council of the party, it was obvious to many that the outcome of the meeting will be a long drawn battle over the mode or method to adopt in the conduct of its primary election ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The meeting chaired by President Muhammadu Buhari also had in attendance all the APC’s governors. It was one gathering of who is who in the party, even as attendees took the opportunity to sell their preferred method of primary to other members.
It was a difficult moment for the party as every stakeholder keep scheming and shopping for the best solution that could shake the party to its foundation. As expected, much of the fears and uncertainty that took hold of the body of this gathering of eminent party faithful finds it hard to disappear days after the meeting.
The controversy surrounding the outcome was one yet to fully see the light of the day. No one could easily say for sure what laid underneath the final decision as governors who came out of the meeting addressing journalists spoke in different tones suggesting that there was no clear direction was reached regarding the party’s primary.
It was one funny thing to prepare for crucial meeting of such nature then difficult to state what future or opportunity the outcome of it symbolize for the party as it gets gradually set for the battle ahead.
However, briefing journalists on the outcome of the enlarged meeting was the governor of Plateau state, Simon Lalong. According to him, the party in its constitution made provision for direct and indirect primaries.
“The constitution of the party provides for either direct, indirect and consensus but for the presidential election we all agreed that we will adopt direct primaries for the presidential election.
“Also a recommendation was made by the NWC that the other states should adopt the indirect mode but there may be situations that this might be difficult in the state looking at their peculiarities. So, if there are such difficulties, they can apply, following the process,’’ he said.
“On the issue of mode of election, we all decided that for the presidential election, we are going into direct primaries but for other elections, there are two options. But, the general option is that we go in for indirect option but any state that has a problem and will want to deviate is at liberty to write and follow the normal process, with a resolution from state executive to the national executive,” the governor added.
As the controversy generated by the outcome and the dusts that trailed it were yet to be fully settled, the NWC issued a statement signed by the Acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena, reversing the earlier directive which emanated from the NEC meeting.
The statement stated among other things that all the APC controlled states including presidential election must adopt direct primary when nominating aspirants as candidates for the elections.
“NEC resolved to adopt direct primaries for the nomination of the presidential candidate and all other primaries. The party’s constitution though provides for indirect election and consensus, however, the use of indirect primary is conditional and dependent on logistic impediments; peculiarities and need of a given state that makes it unable to use direct primaries.
“The state executive committee shall in consultation with aspirants and other critical stakeholders of the party in a given state forward for consideration and approval by the National Working Committee, NWC, if indirect primaries is to be adopted. The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the party’s primary elections including state assembly, senate, House of Representatives and for the governorship elections.
“The request for indirect primaries must be signed by majority of the state executive committee and critical stakeholders in attendance at the meeting where such resolution is reached.
“Direct Primaries will among others ensure fairness; create a level playing ground for contestants; eliminate corrupt tendencies usually associated with the delegates system and ultimately ensure full participation of party members at all levels”, he noted.
This directive became the last straw which broke the proverbial camel’s back after majority of the governors later came to the realization that adopting the direct mode for the primaries will further weaken their strength. It will appear they were shooting themselves by accepting to tow that line of option. How will they have control over the party’s structures if that was the only option left for them? Reports from reliable sources said some of the governors are worried that if the direct method was adopted how will their stooges and lackeys get elected? The findings said it became a tall order for the governors to accept without the outcome casting a dark cloud over their supposed hold on the party across the states.
Also, as soon as the date for the purchase of the nomination and expression of interest forms were announced, the real scheming was commenced as those aspirants who were not in agreement with their governors became targets for attacks. Some were out rightly ridiculed, denied and barred from purchasing the forms from the state party’s secretariat were the forms were sold.
They told lots of the experience they have had in the process. They claim the directive came from some of the governors to the state executive council that those marked aspirants who are seen to be disrespectful or disloyal to the executive governor of its state should be denied forms and this was not to go down well with the aspirants to the extent that the National Working Committee had to intervene by offering a window of hope for those expressly denied the privilege of buying the forms to come to the National Secretariat to get the forms through a press statement signed by the Acting National Publicity Secretary.
“We have received complaints from some State House of Assembly aspirants over inability to collect Expression of Interest and Nomination Forms in their states. Affected aspirants should come to the Party’s National Secretariat in Abuja to collect the forms after making necessary payments at designated banks”, it stated.