Direct Primaries causing confusion in APC ahead of 2019


The decision of the All Progressives Congress at its National Executive Committee’s meeting on Wednesday on the use of direct primary to elect its candidates for the 2019 general elections is causing confusion in the party in some states.

Investigations by SUNDAY PUNCH, on Saturday, revealed that while some states had embraced the direct primary method, some insisted on the indirect method. Others however said they would need to meet to seek a workable solution to what they referred to as conflicting directives.

Some of the states’ executives of the party, who spoke with our correspondents on Saturday, argued that the NEC was unambiguous in its decision on Wednesday when it declared that only direct primary would be used to elect the presidential candidate.

The party leaders in the state said the confusion occurred on Friday when the party issued a statement, declaring that other candidates, alongside the presidential candidate, would be elected through the direct primary method.

In Imo State, the state party executive said it would adhere strictly to the decision of the NEC of the party to adopt direct primary in the election of its candidates for the 2019 general elections.

Speaking with the SUNDAY PUNCH on Saturday, the Publicity Secretary of the party in the state, Jones Onwuasoanya, said the NEC’s decision was final.

“We will strictly adhere to whatever decision was taken by the NEC, being the highest decision-making organ of the party. We are loyal and committed party men and we are interested in the success of the APC,” he said.

But the Chairman of the party in Ondo State, Mr. Ade Adetimehin, said the state chapter would go for indirect primary.

He said, “The decision of NEC on direct primary is for the presidential election; it is going to be indirect primaries for the others. That is our position.”
However, the Senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District, Ajayi Boroffice, said the direct primary option would be adopted for all elections in the state.

Boroffice, who spoke through, his media aide, Mr. Kayode Fakuyi, also stated that he stood by the position of the NEC that all primaries should be direct.

He said, “I wish to congratulate the National Executive Committee of our great party for coming out boldly to adopt direct method for the conduct of primary elections at all levels. We are ready for it in Ondo State.”

Also, the Benue State chairman of the party, Abbah Yaro, said on Saturday that the party was ready to conduct direct primaries for all aspirants in the state as directed by the national leadership of the party.

“The emergence of all our candidates must come from the people. If we are going to adopt the indirect primary, we would definitely call a stakeholders’ meeting and if the majority of the people disagree with the direct option, we will carry the NEC along,” he stated.

The Director of Publicity, Research and Strategy of the APC in Osun State, Mr. Kunle Oyatomi, said the party executives in the state had not decided whether to use direct primary or delegate system in electing its candidates.

Oyatomi said, “We used the direct option for our governorship primary but we have not decided on which method to use for the 2019 elections. We are busy preparing for our governorship election now and we will decide on that later.”
The Chairman of the Ogun State chapter of the party, Chief Derin Adebiyi, said the state had yet to decide on whether to use direct or indirect primary.

Adebiyi said going by the decision reached at its NEC meeting last week in Abuja, each state was at liberty to adopt any method.

He said, “From the decision taken on Thursday, we can go for either direct or indirect primary. We can also use the consensus method if we like.”

Also, the party in Katsina State, said it had yet to take any decision on the matter because of the confusion arising from the information received from the NEC meeting and the statement issued by the party on Friday.

The Publicity Secretary of APC in the state, Alhaji Abdullahi Danmusa, said, “The stakeholders in the state would have to meet and review the position of the party at the national level. There is no clear picture yet on the matter.”

The executive committee of the party in Anambra State said it had not decided the type of system to adopt in the election of its candidates in the state.

The Publicity Secretary, Mr. Okelo Madukaife, who stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents, said, “The State Executive Committee has not met to take a position on the type of primaries that we will adopt in the state.”

The immediate past state chairman of the APC in Akwa Ibom, Dr. Amadu Atai, said the state executive committee would deliberate on whether to adopt direct or indirect primaries very soon.

According to him, the party tilts towards direct primaries except if there is a contrary directive.

The Edo State chapter of the APC said it had yet to take a decision on the directive given by the NEC.

The State Chairman, Mr. Anselm Ojezua, said, “The decision of NEC recognises the three modes by which the choices can be made under the constitution of the party as consensus, direct and indirect primaries.

“These are the options I shall lay before my colleagues and the state caucus of our party to make a decision. I think that it is not only fair but also the right way to go.”

In the same vein, the Chairman of the APC in Oyo State, Chief Akin Oke, told one of our correspondents that the state chapter of the party would have to deliberate first on a position to adopt before making its preferred choice public.

“I was at the NEC and we made our presentation. I will not want to say anything about the choice to adopt now until we submit our report and deliberate on what to do. It is not a choice I have to make,” he said.

In Bayelsa State, the Organising Secretary of the APC in the state, Mr. Tonye Okio, said the state chapter would strictly abide by the directive of the national secretariat on the mode of primaries.

Okio said, “The directive is clear. The directive states that only the President will go through direct primary, while others from the Senate downward, will go through indirect primaries.

“The directive also states that those averse to indirect primary can apply to the national and two third of the state executive council members must sign the letter for their prayers to be answered.”

A senatorial aspirant in Bauchi South, Lawal Husseini, told one of our correspondents on the telephone that he was comfortable with any method that would be adopted by the party.

“As far as I am concerned, it is how you organise it that matters. If it is rigging, some people are thinking that you cannot rig by one side. But whether it is direct or indirect primary that is adopted, if you want to rig, you will rig, because the person organising the indirect primaries is the same person that will organise the direct primary,” he stated.

Another aspirant of the Katagum Federal Constituency, Musa Azare, said the position of the party was a welcome development.

The state chairman of the party in Taraba, Alhaji Abdulmumuni Vaki, on Saturday, said the exco of the party in the state would adopt the indirect primary to select its governorship candidate for the 2019 elections.

Vaki in a telephone interview with our correspondent said, “We, the exco of the All Progressive Congress in the state, have decided to go with the directive of the national secretariat to conduct direct primary.

“Those seeking the party’s governorship flag should go and lobby the delegates.

“We are not taking side with anybody specifically, but as humans, we all know what we want and the aspirants should go and lobby those that matter. That is what is called politics.”

How party ignored govs’ threat, aligned with senators

Meanwhile, fresh facts have emerged on why the leadership of the All Progressives Congress revisited the issue of the process for the election of candidates that would fly the party’s flags during the 2019 general elections.

The party had, after its National Executive Committee on Thursday, announced that only the election of its presidential candidate would be by direct primary while that of others would be by indirect primaries as allowed by the party’s constitution.

Investigations revealed that the initial decision was arrived at following the pressure mounted on the APC leadership by its governors who saw the adoption of the direct primary as a threat to their positions as leaders of the party in their respective states.

A chieftain of the party had hinted one of our correspondents on Thursday, shortly before the commencement of the NEC meeting, that six governors of the party met with the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole on Tuesday night and told him that their colleagues were not favourably disposed to direct primaries.

The source had explained that two of the governors were from the North-Central; one from the North-West, and one each from the South-East, South-West and North-East.

The party chief added that all the states’ helmsmen, except the governor from the North-East, admitted that they had problems with the state party chapters, hinting of their fears that there was a possibility that they and their loyalists vying for offices might not get the party’s ticket if they should embrace the direct primary option.

They equally expressed the fears that the APC could lose their states if direct primary was allowed to hold.

The source, however, said the APC chairman was firm and resolute on the position of the party and that the NEC meeting would merely ratify the position of the party’s leadership on the issue.

Oshiomhole, according to the source, told the governors that President Muhammadu Buhari and the national leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, among other critical stakeholders, were also in full support of direct primary.

The source added, “The party chairman explained to his the governors that the adoption of indirect primary in the election of the APC candidates for the Ondo and Ekiti states’ governorship elections affected greatly the integrity of the party.

“He lamented that it was obvious that the candidates emerged because they were able to offer more money to the delegates than other aspirants.”

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the governors, who met Oshiomhole, were not impressed by his explanation. They also threatened that they would not allow direct primaries in their states.

The battle line seemed to have been drawn following the abrupt end of the meeting as the state executives vowed to restate their stand at the party’s NEC meeting the following day.

Findings by SUNDAY PUNCH however revealed that after a series of consultations among the party’s leadership and other major critical stakeholders, the NEC allowed the governors to have their way.

The Saraki’s factor

Meanwhile, while the decision was being taken by the party, the leadership was not aware that the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, who had just dumped the APC for the Peoples Democratic Party, would declare his presidential ambition on the platform of the opposition party that day.

A source, who spoke with one of our correspondents on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue, explained that Saraki’s action ignited the burning desire by the APC to remove him as the Senate President at all cost.

He said, “The APC leadership sees it as an affront to have a Senate President, who is also a presidential aspirant of an opposition political party, as the head of a major arm of government, when his new party is in the minority in the federal parliament.”

The source added that Oshiomhole reached out to the APC senators loyal to Buhari, who felt disappointed with the party for bending backward to satisfy the governors on the issue of indirect primaries, which they claimed would not favour them.

Confirming the outcome of the meeting in a telephone interview with one of our correspondents, an APC senator said, “As it stands now, any APC member who is aspiring to go to the Senate, where there is a serving APC senator, who is still loyal to Buhari, is only wasting his time.

He added, “The party was not aware that Saraki would declare his presidential ambition on Wednesday; otherwise, there would have been a more categorical statement on the issue of primaries.

“The danger now is that we would have a presidential aspirant of another party who is now a Senate President and who is going to be presiding over 54 senators of his party.

“It is going to be very dangerous if the APC, as a party, allows its senators to fall into the hands of Saraki. In order to boost his chances for the presidential bid, he would make offers to APC senators who might lose out in their bids to return to the Senate. Such offers could include ministerial positions (if he emerges President) among others.

“The party then told us that it cannot help any senator who wants to be a governor and that there is also a deal to be signed by any governor who wants to go to the Senate when a loyal member, who is occupying the seat, is still interested.

“Such governor would sign an undertaking that he would support the senator he wants to displace for a ministerial appointment.”

He added, “If the APC leadership could intensify its current efforts at lobbying the PDP senators very well, they could get additional 15 senators to remove Saraki but if they allow some APC senators to lose their seats now, it could jeopardise such move.

“If care is not taken, the APC senators, who would lose out, could fall into the hands of Saraki because they would have nothing to lose by supporting him.

The direct primary for the President

Meanwhile, another chieftain of the party has explained that the party’s leadership adopted the direct primary option for the presidential election because Buhari insisted on it.

The source said, “The President is aware that there is a series of litigation on the delegate lists that would be used for the indirect primary. He doesn’t want to win election with such delegate lists only to be confronted with litigation that would return him to court after election.”

The APC, through a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, on Friday, clarified that the primary elections into all elective offices of the party shall be by direct primaries.

The statement noted that the party’s constitution provided for indirect election and consensus, but that, the options were conditional and dependent on logistic impediments, peculiarities and the need of a given state that might be unable to use direct primaries.

The party then gave stringent conditions for an indirect primary to be used in any state.

It said, “The State Executive Committee shall, in consultation with aspirants and other critical stakeholders of the party in a given state, forward for the consideration and approval of the National Working Committee, if indirect primary is to be adopted.

“The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the party’s primary including the 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, aspirants and critical stakeholders in attendance at the meeting where such resolution is reached.”

When contacted on Saturday, Nabena, said, “There was no pressure from anywhere. What I told you at the press conference on Friday was what happened during the NEC meeting and that is the position of our party.”

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