The crisis over the mode of primary to be adopted by the All Progressives Congress (APC) to select candidates for the 2019 general elections might soon be resolved, as the party’s National Working Committee (NEC), appeared to have finally bowed to pressure from governors to conduct indirect primaries.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja, yesterday, after a crucial meeting between party leaders and governors elected on the party’s platform, the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole announced that they have agreed on indirect primaries in states.
Corroborating the national chairman, Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha, said: “We met with the chairman and we have 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. 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 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 NEC are working together and we have resolved to make sure that we get victory for the party come 2019.”
On the acrimonies in many states like Kaduna and Zamfara, Okorocha said: “Like the NEC made it clear that the parties will decide at every state level whether 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 skirmishes and scuffles. If you are looking at other parties, you would know there is no peace at all. So, these minor complains here and there is expected because even in a family you have it. The NEC have 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,” he said.
Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, added: “There is no way 100 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 decide on the mode of primaries.”
Oshiomhole continued: “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…
“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,” he said.
The decision on what mode of primary to adopt had triggered internal crisis in the party. The bickering between the supporters and opponent of the direct and indirect mode did not only heat up the polity, but also threatened to split the ruling party.
The NEC of the party, after a meeting last month, had decided that: “Primary elections into all elective offices shall be by the Direct and Indirect Election or by Consensus. The use of the Direct and Indirect Primaries shall, however, depend on the peculiarity and need of a given State.
“The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the Party’s Primary Elections i.e. State Assembly, Senate, House of Representatives and for the Governorship Elections”.
But many chieftains, elected officials and members of the party cried foul.
According to them, subjecting some states and positions to indirect primaries was to enable certain persons to call the shot and determine who gets what.
Meanwhile, Oshiomhole has also dismissed insinuations that Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode is embattled over his re-election bid due to alleged rift with the National Leader, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu.
Oshiomhole argued that the entry into the race by others aspirants in the state did not indicate a no confidence vote on the incumbent governor, but an indication of the democratic nature of the ruling party.
“The attempt to call him an embattled governor is wrong. 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.
“But of course, the media can create this impression that there is an earthquake in Lagos. There is no earthquake. At every level I have seen people claiming that in one or two offices there was no opposition. In every other office, we have more than one candidate expressing interest. Those people who are currently occupying those positions are not by reasons of those new expressions of interests embattled.
“I think our party in Lagos is at peace, there are conversations going on across the 8,500 wards or there about. Across the country, conversations are going on within the APC family. Conversations are going on in each of the 774 local governments across the country.
“Our party members are negotiating, they are persuading, they are doing compromises, and they are competing, because we are progressing.
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,” he said.
He also faulted the impression that Ambode is attending the governors meeting for the first time.
“To say that you have never see the Lagos State governor in our meetings is to the extent that your lens
is blurred. My records and minutes of our meetings will show the participation of Lagos State governor in all the meetings in which he has been invited,” he said.