The All Progressives Congress has granted the demand of state governors that each state chapter of the party be allowed to choose the mode of primaries to pick candidates for the 2019 elections.
The decision was reached after a three-hour meeting between the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, and the party’s 22 governors at the Imo State Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro, Abuja, on Wednesday.
The party had, after its last National Executive Council meeting, announced that the party would choose its candidates through direct primaries.
It stated that states wishing to use the indirect method must get the approval of stakeholders in the states and write to the national secretariat.
The party’s national leadership said the letter must be signed by a majority of members of the state executive committee.
It stated that the presidential primary would, however, be by the direct method.
Some stakeholders, especially members of the National Assembly, had insisted on the direct option on the grounds that the indirect method could be easily manipulated by governors.
The APC governors, however, insisted on the indirect method which they eventually got during the Wednesday’s meeting.
After the meeting, Oshiomhole told reporters that in line with the tradition of the APC, stakeholders had submitted to the dictates of the party members.
He said, “We just concluded a meeting and we have resolved that we are going to have free and fair primaries. And we have adopted both direct and indirect.
“Most of the states are going for indirect primaries, but for the President, it is going to be direct primary. We assure Nigerians that we are ready for the primaries and we are ready for the main election and we are sure that in 2019, APC will have the victory.
“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.
“We believe in internal democracy because we are democrats and democracy must begin from within the house.
“We are committed to transparent primaries and we will ensure that everyone’s interest is protected in our party. We are happy at the level of enthusiasm measured by the number of persons who have applied for various positions from House of Assembly. It shows that a huge number of Nigerians still prefer the All Progressives Congress as the more credible platform 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.
“Our constitution consciously provides for flexibility; 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 advise the NWC as to what works better for them provided that in all the cases, the process is democratic, the rules are fair and the officiating officials are impartial.
“Those of us who are governors, the NWC members and even the President, we all agreed that this is the way to go and that is what we are going to do.”
Earlier, the Chairman of the Progressives Governors Forum, Governor Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, said, “The NEC has made it clear that the state chapters of the party will decide what they want, either direct or indirect primaries.”
Also, the Kaduna State Governor, Nasir El-Rufai said, “There is no way 100 per cent of the party members 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 should decide on the mode of primaries. In Kaduna State, which I’m the governor, the majority of the state executive committee has decided on indirect primaries.”
Speaking further later, Okorocha explained that most state chapters of the APC opted for the indirect method for convenience.
He noted that the party’s constitution made provisions for consensus, direct and indirect options of primary, adding that the decision of most states to opt for the indirect method was in line with the party’s constitution.
Also, the Bauchi State Governor, Mohammed Abubakar, defended the choice of indirect primaries in his state.
Abubakar said, “The position of the APC executive in Bauchi State, which they took while I was away in China with Mr President, was indirect primary.
“The constitution of the party also provides for indirect. The last NEC meeting allows the state executive committees to take charge and determine for themselves what type of primary they want and Bauchi chose indirect.”
I have no anointed candidate – Ajimobi
In a related development, the Governor of Oyo State, Abiola Ajimobi, said he had no anointed candidate.
Ajimobi said this after his screening by the APC screening committee, in Abuja, on Thursday.
The governor is vying for a senatorial ticket of the APC in Oyo State.
He said, “I am not God, I don’t anoint. I have no anointed candidate.”
Earlier, he said the screening was designed to assess eligibility, as well as the ability of a candidate to win an election if the party presents such candidate for election.
He also explained why the Oyo State chapter of the APC opted for the indirect method in choosing candidates for the 2019 elections.
Ajumobi said, “We have opted for indirect, but more importantly we have many people who are qualified. As for me, I have given them free hands. Let them talk to all the party members and whoever they pick, I am okay. There is none who is not qualified.
Ogun APC settles for indirect primaries
Meanwhile, the APC in Ogun State on Thursday adopted indirect primary to select its candidates after the controversy that surrounded the consensus option.
The party took the decision in Abeokuta at a meeting attended by the state executive, party leaders and lawmakers from the state House of Assembly among others.
The motion for the adoption of the new mode of primary was moved by the APC Chairman, Sagamu Local Government, Segun Solarin, and seconded by a former Deputy Speaker of the state Assembly, Bolanle Gbeleyi.
The party, however, said the consensus method would still remain, while the indirect option would be used where the consensus option failed.
A communiqué signed by the state chairman, Derin Adebiyi, at the end of the meeting read in part, “The meeting resolved that the APC in Ogun State shall employ the consensus option in the first instance and where that fails, the indirect mode of primary will be used to choose candidates for all elective positions in the 2019 general elections.
“That five days to primary elections, updated membership register has not been availed the state chapter by national headquarters.”
However, one of the governorship aspirants in the state, Otunba Bimbo Ashiru, said he would adopt wait-and-see method for now.
Another governorship aspirant, Jimi Lawal, said the mode of the primaries should be either direct or indirect.
Factional Ondo APC insists on direct primary
In Ondo State, a faction of the party insisted that the state APC must adopt direct primary system.
The chairman of the group, Mr Idowu Otetubi, said members of the group would do everything possible to oppose indirect primary option.
He said, “We are committed to the progressive dispositions of our party at the national level. We equally share the view that a democrat must embrace direct primary as openly embraced by President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of our party. We are poised to replicate same system here in Ondo State.”
Edo aspirants protest automatic tickets
Aspirants, seeking the APC tickets for legislative positions in Edo State on Thursday protested against an alleged plot by the state APC to grant the incumbent lawmakers automatic tickets for the 2019 elections.
Spokesman for the aggrieved aspirants, Adaeze Imafidon, told journalists at the APC screening, which started in Abuja on Thursday, that the plot was real.
Imafidon who is one of the aspirants vying for Orhionmwon/Uhumwonde Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, described the move to foist a consensus arrangement on them as fraudulent and illegal.
He alleged that the APC chapter of the Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State unilaterally announced the names of three returning lawmakers – Patrick Aisowieren (Orhionmwon/Uhumwonde Federal Constituency), Nosayaba Okunbor (Orhionmwon East Constituency) and Roland Asoro (Orhionmwon South Constituency) as consensus candidates.
He said the decision was in brazen disregard of the procedure for nominating candidates for consensus candidature issued by the APC National Working Committee.
Confusion in Rivers APC
In Rivers State, while the Rotimi Amaechi faction of the APC has adopted the indirect primaries to choose candidates, the Senator Magnus Abe’s faction says it is embracing the direct option.
Mr Chris Finebone, who is the state Public Secretary of the APC loyal to Amaechi, said, “The Rivers State APC adopted indirect primaries and on indirect primaries we stand.”
But Peter Odike, the acting State Chairman of the APC loyal to Senator Abe, said, “It is the direct primary because the court said let the status quo be maintained. This means that in the absence of the other group, which the court has declared non-existent, the exco takes over. That is why I am the acting chairman of the party.
“If there is consensus and we can agree on one person, there will be indirect primaries. But if one person disagrees out of 20, who are contesting election, then there will be direct primaries.”