The National Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, says President Muhammadu Buhari, party leadership and governors are committed to the conduct of free, fair and credible primaries to elect candidates across the country.
Oshiomhole said this on Wednesday’s night after he led the APC National Working Committee (NWC) to a meeting with the governors at Imo State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja.
The APC national chairman, who pledged to ensure that the processes leading to the primaries are democratic, rules are fair, and the officiating officials are impartial, dismissed the notion that Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State was absent because he was embattled.
He said, “I think my task and the task of the party is clear. We have a tradition as a progressive party to submit ourselves to the dictates of our party and we believe in internal democracy because we are democrats and democracy must begin from within the house before we can do it outside.
“That is why like Gov. Okorocha said, we are committed to transparent primaries and will ensure that everyone who has interest in our party and we are happy at the level of enthusiasm measured by the number of persons who have applied for various positions from House of Assembly up shows a huge number of Nigerians still prefer the All Progressives Congress as the more credible platform of which to contest.
“Our task is very simple, obey the rules of the party, obey the rules of fairness, obey the rules of natural justice and that is what we mean when we talk about free and fair primaries.
“Number two, we have spoken to this before, it is not a new decision that our constitution consciously provided for flexibility, first to reflect the diversity of our great country and also to try to give expression to the entire essence of federalism which allows different states to look at their own situation and advice the NWC as to what works better for them provided that in all cases the process is democratic, the rules are fair, the officiating officials are impartial.
“All of us, Governors, NWC and even President, we all agreed that this is the way to go and that is what we are going to do. There is no APC Governor that is embattled and because we are democratic, the best way to measure democracy is the presence of more than one person showing interest in an office. That does not make any other person embattled.
“Across the 36 states, our party activity is at its peak and that is how it is even at the centre. So it will be unfair for anyone out of his own prejudice to label anyone as embattled or being pressured. Everyone has been active.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum (PGF) and Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha, said the 22 APC governors had agreed to work for the party’s victory in 2019.
Okorocha said, “We just held a meeting with the Chairman and we’ve resolved that in support of the party that we are going to have free and fair primaries. Everybody will be given equal chance to participate in the primaries which will be transparent, free and fair. And we have adopted both direct and indirect and most of the states are going for indirect primaries, but for the president it is going to be direct primaries.
“So we have all resolved and to assure Nigerians that we are ready for the primaries and we are ready for the main election as decided by NEC and we are sure that come 2019 APC shall have the victory. We are calling on all our supporters to support the party. The 22 governors and the National Working Committee are working together and we have resolved to make sure that we get victory for the party come 2019.”
Asked to speak on how the party would handle the situation in States like Kaduna and Zamfara where there were still acrimonies over direct and indirect primaries, the governor said, “Like the NEC made it clear that the parties will decide at every state level what they want, either direct or indirect primaries. Normally you would know that our party is even a peaceful party. It is the most peaceful party in Nigeria right now where there are no schemishes and scuffles. If you are looking at other parties, you would know there is no party at all. So these minor complains here and there is expected because even in a family you have it. The NEC has declared that we are going to have direct and indirect primaries and the party at the state level will decide what type of primary to adopt.”
Governor Nasir EL-Rufai of Kaduna State, in his contribution to the question, said, “There is no way one hundred percent of the party will agree to one thing. There will always be some that will disagree but the decision of NEC is that the majority of the state Executive Committee decided on the mode of primaries.
“And the Kaduna state that you mentioned which I’m the Governor by the grace of God, the majority of the State Executive Committee decided on indirect primaries. If one or two members don’t agree, that’s off; that is not the decision of NEC.”