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01 September 2018

Crisis looms in APC as party insists on direct primary

There are indications that a fresh crisis is imminent in the All Progressives Congress over its forthcoming primaries.

The party on Friday said it would adopt the direct primary method for the selection of its candidates for all elections.

However, it was gathered that the party’s latest position would pit some governors against senators from their states.

There were reports that while governors preferred indirect primaries, the lawmakers were insisting on direct primaries.

The direct method involves all registered members of the party voting for aspirants of their choice after which the aspirant with the highest number of votes will emerge as the party’s candidate for the election.

The indirect method however requires only approved delegates who emerge from congresses at ward, local government and state levels voting for aspirants who will emerge as party’s candidate.

It was learnt that the state governors preferred the indirect primary, hence the party’s position on Thursday that only the presidential primary would be done through direct primary.

But, the National Publicity Secretary, APC, Yekini Nabena, at a press conference in Abuja, on Friday, said that contrary to some reports on Friday, all candidates would be chosen through direct primaries.

Some federal lawmakers in the APC who spoke on Friday warned that there would be crisis in the party should the governors go ahead with their choice of indirect primary.

According to them, the crisis will be worse in states where there are parallel executives.

The APC had earlier in the year held its ward, local government area and state congresses, with several senators and party leaders who were aggrieved with their respective governors holding parallel congresses.

Some senators have joined the governorship race in their states, posing a threat to governors seeking a second term or those who want to determine their successors.

On the other hand, some governors who are in their second term in office want to contest seats being occupied by senators from their states.

it was gathered that Senator Kabiru Marafa (Zamfara-Central), threatened to participate in a parallel primary should Governor Abdulaziz Yari of Zamfara State opt for indirect primary.

He said, “It is a shame for a governor to say that he is afraid of confronting a senator or a member of the House of Representatives or anybody who challenges him in his state to direct primary but the governor opts for indirect primary. As for the states, (governors can) go and do whatever they want to do. If the courts nullify your election, it is your problem.

“We the senators and House of Representatives’ members are the ones calling for direct primary but the governors are saying that they don’t want it; that they are going for indirect. They are insisting on indirect primary and, to me, it is an admission of failure by the governors.”

Asked what would be his reaction should Yari choose indirect primary for Zamfara, Marafa stated that the APC executive under his leadership would opt for direct primary.

The senator said, “I have no problem with the governor. I have my own party executive and he has his own. I am already in court (to authenticate the congresses that produced the executive led by me). There are just two options: if what the North-West Zonal Vice-Chairman (of APC) said is anything to go by, that the directive by NEC yesterday was that states where there were litigation should go for direct primary, I am ready for his primary. I can contest direct primary with anybody.

“But if the approval by NEC yesterday was for governors to determine what happens and my governor decides to go do indirect primary, then he will conduct it with his executive and I will participate in the direct to be held by my executive. The court will eventually determine whose executive is authentic.”

Marafa, who hailed the decision of the APC NEC, said the choice of direct method for the presidential primary was a vote of no confidence on the state executives elected by the congresses supervised by the governors.

Also a senator from the North-East, who spoke on condition of anonymity, noted that most of the governors and their choice aspirants would win in an indirect primary as the governors usually fund the party at the state level. Asked about indirect primary in a state with parallel executives, the senator said, “That is where the problem will be actually, because since some of the problems (from the congresses) have not been resolved, there will be confusion.”

The lawmaker equally noted that while direct primary is more democratic, the choice of indirect primary at the state level would cause crisis, especially in states that have parallel executives.

“Direct primary is more democratic but in the circumstance that we have found ourselves right now, the APC has no updated register. Voter card is different from (party) membership card. The membership register has not been well updated. Had it been that all members have an authentic membership card, we could have easily asked them to line up behind their choice aspirants. I don’t think we are really prepared for direct primary without proper authentication of delegates,” he stated.

The lawmaker pointed out that a popular politician should not be afraid to participate in any method adopted for a primary.

Meanwhile, a leader of the Parliamentary Support Group, a body of Senate and House of Representatives members loyal to President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (Delta-Central), has said that the APC will protect the interests of lawmakers loyal to the party.

He however declined to state if it would compensate such loyal party members with automatic tickets.

Omo-Agege said, “With respect to the presidential primary, there is no problem at all. We want everyone to nominate Mr. President. We are looking forward to seeing Mr. President nominated by about 16,000,000 APC members. With respect to other offices – like those of governors, senators, House of Representatives members – the decision will be made by the State Executive Committee of the party in consultation with all stakeholders.”

Speaking on the implication of indirect primary in a state with parallel executives, Omo-Agege said, “The NWC, most especially the National Chairman, have been working day and night to reconcile all the interests. The NWC has been fair to all members in the National Assembly, especially those of us who, out of patriotism and support for Mr. President and the APC, notwithstanding the carrot that is being dangled before a lot of us by the opposition.

“Now I am speaking in respect of my colleagues in the National Assembly: the party has made it clear that our interests will be adequately protected.”

When probed on how the party planned to protect their interests, Omo-Agege said, “That is a determination to be made by the NWC but I cannot see any of my colleagues being left alone by the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC. I believe that the interests of all senators and House of Representatives members who stood by Mr. President and the party and have continued to do so, will be adequately protected.”

Asked if the protection was by way of automatic tickets, the senator said, “I didn’t say so. As far as I am concerned, our interests will be adequately protected. We have received this assurance. And in my capacity as the Secretary of the PSG for Mr. President in the Senate, I can guarantee that.”

The Ondo State Governor, Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, on Friday declared that his support for the direct primary ahead the forthcoming primary of the All Progressives Congress , saying he stood by the decision of the NEC of the party on the matter.

It also agreed that states should adopt the mode of primary that best suits their peculiarities from among the methods specified in the party’s constitution.

Akeredolu, who spoke with our correspondent, through his Chief Press Secretary, Mr.  Segun Ajiboye, said direct primary was a better method.

He said, “ It is clear, the NEC has taken a decision on the matter and we can’t go against the decision of the NEC.”


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