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Division in APC over direct primaries as NEC meets today

A major division has emerged in the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) over the mode of conducting primaries to pick the party’s candidates for the…

A major division has emerged in the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) over the mode of conducting primaries to pick the party’s candidates for the 2019 general elections.

Sources in the party told Daily Trust yesterday that majority of the party’s governors rejected the idea of adopting a direct primaries approach favoured by APC National Leader Bola Tinubu and National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.

The party’s National Executive Committee is meeting today to take a final decision on the method and timetable of the primaries.

Tinubu and Oshiomhole are said to have convinced President Muhammadu Buhari on the efficacy of a direct primaries approach, but most of the governors and some leading figures in the party have rejected it.

One of the governors told Daily Trust that the governors “prefer indirect primaries” due to security challenges in some parts of the country, and for cost effectiveness and orderliness.

He said an earlier suggestion that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) had, at Tuesday’s Caucus meeting, agreed for direct primaries was wrong.

“It is not correct to say that the National Working Committee of the party has decided to hold direct primaries for all elective posts,” the governor said.

“Our party’s constitution allows direct or indirect primaries as well as selecting candidates by consensus. NWC asked state chapters for input before a final decision is made.

“All the 14 APC governors in the North indicated that they would prefer indirect primaries. They gave two reasons. One is the cost, because we believe it would be as costly as the general election. Two is the security situation.

“Most of our states have one form of insecurity or another and trying to hold direct primaries involving all party members will be an invitation to chaos. Besides, our opponents will try to infiltrate our primaries and cause confusion.

“Apart from the governors, APC leaders in non-APC controlled Northern states namely Chief Akume in Benue, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje in Gombe and Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed of Kwara also indicated a preference for indirect primaries.

“Besides, the governors of Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti have indicated support for indirect primaries while the Governor of Ogun said he does not mind whether the primaries are direct or indirect,” he said.

The governor further said: “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the prime mover of the idea of direct primaries. President Buhari also supports it, at least with respect to presidential primaries.

“I don’t think it matters much to the president what type of primaries are held because he is so far the only candidate, except perhaps for the propaganda value of saying so many millions of people voted for him.

“But for the other elections the choice is very important because it could make the difference between peaceful primaries and chaos,” the governor added.

Similarly, a member of the party’s National Working Committee, who does not want to be named, said only the National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, out of the 21-member committee, called for direct primaries when they met ahead of the caucus.

“Other members opposed direct primaries saying it will be problematic as all members down to the ward level would participate. They argued that the last registration of members was done about five years ago,” he said.

“Some members have died, others have left the party, new ones have joined and the register has not been updated to reflect all these changes,” he added.

Daily Trust learnt yesterday that even if NEC adopts direct primaries, the North-east zone might be exempted because of security challenges.

North-east backs indirect primaries

Meanwhile, the North-east zonal chapter of the APC has cautioned against the adoption of direct primaries because of the level of logistics and resources required to implement it.

The APC National Vice Chairman, North-East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, warned against its implementation for the conduct of Presidential, Senate, House of Representatives, Governorship and State House of Assembly’s primaries ahead of 2019 general elections.

He said when the defunct Congress for Progressives Change (CPC) adopted direct primaries in 2011, it ended up with parallel candidates and court cases in states like Kastina, Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi.

Salihu said if to do direct primary for governorship, senatorial and House of Representatives or member of the House of Assembly seats, are desired “the stake is beyond that of the ward the primaries is taking place. So, a lot of supervision is required, otherwise, even people from another ward can come and create trouble.”

He dismissed the notion that a position had been taken on the mode of primaries at the caucus meeting and urged party members to wait for the outcome of today’s NEC meeting.

He said the final decision would be disseminated officially through the spokesperson of the party after the NEC meeting.

On whether the NWC was divided over the issue, he said “I cannot say divided, because division is a big word for us to use in family issue. Actually, there may be divergent views and all these divergent views will be trashed out at the NEC.”

Salihu also said a decision on the ongoing registration of party members will be ratified by the NEC.

Expect final decision today – Oshiomhole

The APC national chairman, Oshiomhole said the resolutions of the party caucus on party primaries would be tabled today at the National Executive Committee (NEC) for deliberation and possible endorsement.

Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of the caucus meeting of the party presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Villa, Oshiomhole said the decision would be made public at the end of the meeting today.

Our correspondent reports that the caucus meeting that was well attended by the top shots of the APC ended around 11.30pm on Tuesday.

“By Thursday (today) we will go to NEC where the formal decisions will be ratified and once they are ratified there will be no problem; they are not being kept (secret) because every member of the party and indeed Nigerians are entitled to know how we agreed about the exercise.

“But I think everybody has confidence that we will do a very credible primaries to ensure that those who fly the flag of the party have the mandate of their various constituencies,” he said.

He said that the party would follow Independent Electoral Commission (INEC) guidelines and ensure fairness and justice to all in the forthcoming primaries.

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