Direct primaries: APC state chairmen dare Oshiomhole

The All Progressives Congress (APC) appears to be heading for a major crisis, as some governors and chairmen of the party in the states moved against a recent directive of the National Working Committee (NWC) to adopt the direct primaries in the selection of candidates for all elective positions in the 2019 polls. The aggrieved party leaders across the states yesterday met in Abuja during which they kicked against the insistence by the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, to force the direct primaries option down the throat of all members of the party.

Despite threat from the party leadership warning against the meeting, the state chairmen went ahead with their plan. The meeting, which was convened by the National Vice Chairman (North- East), Comrade Mustapha Salihu, was supported by many APC governors. The meeting, earlier scheduled to hold at Transcorp Hilton Hotel, later held at Barcelona Hotel in Abuja. 33 APC state chairmen were in attendance at the meeting. Among them were the chairman of the state chairmen, Ali Bukar, and the Secretary, Dr. Ben Nwoye. Also in attendance were ex-officials of APC from all the geopolitical zones.

The meeting, which started at about 2p.m., did not end until 5p.m. Although there was no official communication on the outcome of the meeting, it was gathered that the agenda of the meeting centred on the controversies trailing the direct and indirect primaries for electing candidates for the 2019 general elections. One of the state chairmen, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, confirmed that the state party leaders “will do everything possible to resist imposition of direct primaries, including passing a vote of no confidence in the APC National Chairman, Comrade Oshiomhole.”

The source also confirmed that nearly all the state chairmen and some APC national officers were in attendance at the meet ing. “Majority of the state chairmen are here and those that could not make it sent representatives. We are talking and our resolutions will be made known to the public very soon, but it won’t be today (Sunday) because we are still consulting and meeting,” he said. In a last ditch effort to stave off crisis that would have blown APC apart, the national leadership of the ruling party has swallowed its pride and reverted to the earlier position of the National Executive Committee (NEC) that the states could adopt either direct or indirect primaries.

A state chairman told New Telegraph that they have resolved the issues with the National Chairman of the party as the party leadership had sent a letter stating that the states could adopt any of the modes of primaries. The state chairman, who brandished a copy of the said letter, could not disclose the content of the letter. It was, however, discovered that the letter to the state chairmen was signed by the APC National Secretary, Mai Mala Buni.

The letter, according to one of the state chairmen from the South-East, has reverted the position of NWC, as it stated that only presidential primaries would be conducted using the direct mode. One of the state chairmen told New Telegraph that the content of the letter is that the state chairmen should go and call state executive committee meeting in their respective states and agree on the mode of primaries (direct or indirect) they have adopted and communicate same to the NWC on or before September 5. National Vice Chairman (North-East), Salihu, confirmed to New Telegraph that a letter was sent to the state chairmen adopting the resolution of NEC that state mode of primaries should be indirect. According to him, the letter from the party leadership has calmed the nerves of the chairmen and other stakeholders. But when the APC Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, was contacted by New Telegraph on the letter purportedly written by the secretary, he said he was not privy to it.

“I am not aware that the National Secretary wrote any letter to the Forum of the APC chairmen asking them to adopt any mode of primaries,” Nabena said. Also commenting on the crisis, another state chairman said that the National Chairman meant well for the party on the direct primaries, but his approach is what is wrong. According to him, Oshiomhole should be able to convince and carry party members along on the adoption of the direct primaries instead of trying to force it on them. In a bid to scuttle yesterday’s meeting of the state chairmen, the leadership of the APC had issued a statement warning the conveners of the meeting to call it off or face sanctions.

The statement, signed by the party’s spokesman, Nabena, said: “The attention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC has been drawn to an illegal meeting scheduled to hold on Sunday at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja by some members of our party organs, with a view to fault the decisions made by the NWC followed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) as regards the mode of the party’s primary elections.

“We want to state clearly that the meeting, which has been fixed for 2p.m., is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our party ahead the 2019 general elections and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the party. “The outcome of such meeting, which is already known, will be a nullity and we admonish our members to disregard such meetings in the interest of the party. It is illegal to call such meetings outside the purview of the constituted authority. “The identities of those plotting such meetings have been identified and unless they desist from such, they will be dealt with in line with the party’s Constitution at the appropriate time. “The NWC will resist any attempt to disrupt the current peace and harmony prevailing in our great party after the exit of some members. “We urge any member who is not satisfied with the decisions of the party to utilize channels provided by the party’s constitution to air their views.”

There have been divergent views over the direct and indirect primaries for state aspirants since the party held its NEC meeting last week. Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong, in company of Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello had, on Thursday after the NEC meeting, said that the body adopted direct primaries for the selection of presidential candidate and indirect primaries for other offices. But the NWC, on Friday, refuted the position of the governors, as Nabena said that direct primaries would be adopted for all positions. “As an update to the earlier released statement, we wish to make the following clarifications on NEC’s resolutions on mode of primary election: Primary elections into all elective offices shall be by direct primaries,” Nabena said.

A party source said that some APC governors were not comfortable with the direct primaries for aspirants, as this would take away the party structure from them. According to the source, some of the governors who want to control the state party structures for the primaries were the ones sponsoring the meeting against the position of the NWC.

.new telegraph

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