The National Executive Committee of the All Progressives Congress will today (Thursday) take a final decision on whether to choose its candidates using the direct or indirect mode of primaries.
It is also expected to deliberate and agree on the modalities for the nationwide membership registration/revalidation of members.
The NEC is also to take a final decision on the provisional dates contained in an earlier correspondence to INEC. The APC had proposed September 8th for its nationwide congresses to elect delegates for the national convention and September 24th as the date for the nomination of its governorship candidates.
The NEC’s decision today will be taken even as one of our correspondents gathered in Abuja on Wednesday that opinions were divided over which method would best serve the interest of the party.
A top ranking member of the party, who was privy to discussions at the National Working Committee and the party’s caucus meetings held on Tuesday, said, “The general opinion in both meetings tilted more in favour of the direct primary because the experiment succeeded with the recent primaries in Osun and Bauchi states.”
The APC National Vice Chairman (South-South), Hillard Ita, told The PUNCH, “The final position of the party as regards the method to be used for our primaries will be taken at NEC. Be patient, we will make it public after the meeting. Our party under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole is transparent.”
It was however gathered that most of the party’s governors had expressed reservations about the direct primary method.
A governor in the South-West was said to have threatened to leave the party if the leaders imposed the method on him.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja, on Wednesday, the National Vice Chairman, North-East, Mustapha Salisu, told reporters while there were arguments for and against the direct primary, only the party’s NEC, which is the second highest decision-making party organ, was empowered to take a final decision on the issue.
He said the direct and indirect methods were both provided for in the APC constitution, noting that they were basically the same in terms of outcome. He explained that the difference was in the process and logistics required.
Salisu said, “The direct primary is not a new mode of primary. It is something that we have been practising before with the advancement of Electoral College that we have decided to go indirect.
“If you remember, part of the parties that formed the merger was the CPC (Congress for Progressive Change). In the CPC in 2011, we went through direct primaries and we didn’t find it funny because there were some pre-requisites we didn’t meet before we embarked on those primaries.
“If you walk down memory lane, we couldn’t field candidates in Kastina, Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi states because the processes were very porous. Many candidates emerged and there were so many court orders restraining us from sending names to INEC. In the end, we would send a dummy. That was how we entered into the election without clear candidates and you remember a lot of House of Representatives seats that we won were later annulled by courts because of the fault in the processes of the primaries.”
He noted that the direct primary method was easier for councillorship and ward chairman positions because the party would be dealing with an almost homogenous society where many people were related either through blood or marriage.
Salisu said, “But when you want to do a direct primary at the governorship level, senatorial seats and House of Representatives and the House of Assembly members, it is beyond that of the ward primaries. A lot of supervision is required; otherwise, even people from another ward can come and create trouble.”
On the news that a decision had been taken on the mode for the primaries, he said, “I am aware that some members of the House of Representatives from certain parts of the country are circulating text messages to their colleagues that a decision has been reached as to the nature of the primary to be used by the party.
“The NWC deliberated on the matter, the reason why I am doing this is that some people are trying to mislead members of the public, claiming that some decision came from the party or an organ of the party.
“Any decision that will come from the party will be disseminated officially from the spokesperson for the party. We should wait for the outcome of the NEC tomorrow.”
In response to a question on whether the party’s NWC is divided on the issue, he said, “I cannot say divided, because division is a big word for us to use on a family issue. Actually, there may be divergent views, and all these divergent views will be trashed out at the NEC.”
Responding to another question whether he suspected a hidden agenda by party members from a section of the country, he said, “Before now, I didn’t have any feelings that there was possibility of conspiracy, but when I see people planting stories, I now begin to suspect.
“If one region feels that that is what is best for it, I think it can canvass that at the regional level and give us reasons why it needs that.
“I want to believe that in a democracy, the majority (should) have their way and the minority have their say. So, they have the right to wish and if we decide to make it flexible, definitely what they want will be given to them in their own various states, but one thing I want to assure you is that we will not succumb to regional imperialism so long that we are acting within the constitution.”
On the issue of the registration of party members, he said, “Even the decision on registration of party members will be rectified by the NEC. Actually, we have a proposal that we are going to give to the NEC. Then the NEC will now decide whether to continue or not but I want to assure you that the basic prerequisite for direct primary is a voter register and membership cards which can be verified. Until we have that, I don’t think we will toe the line of direct primary.”
Ambode says APC constitution allows direct, indirect primaries
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, on Tuesday night said both direct and indirect primaries were allowed by the constitution of the APC.
He said the underlying factor was to ensure that all party members were allowed to be part of the decision to elect the party’s candidate.
Ambode spoke with State House correspondents shortly after he joined others to attend a meeting of the party’s national caucus at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said, “The fact remains that the constitution of our party allows us to carry out our primaries and elections using direct or indirect primaries.
“The whole essence is for us to deepen democracy and also allow our members to participate in this whole process.
“The idea is once you have party members that are able to take decisions on who should represent them, I think we would have gone a step higher and better than other parties, that makes us a better party.”