2019: APC opts for direct, indirect primary elections
•Dogara absent at NEC meeting; •Defections mere dent on APC — Buhari
By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA — The ruling All Progressives Congress, APC has opted for a combination of both the direct and indirect primary election as the mode of choosing candidates it will field for the 2019 general election.
However, in choosing the presidential candidate, the party has adopted the direct primary election, while for other positions, the states are free to use direct or indirect primaries, the National Executive Committee, NEC, of the party has said.
These were some of the decisions taken at the party’s sixth NEC meeting in Abuja, yesterday, at which House of Representatives Speaker, Mr Yakubu Dogara, who is a NEC member was absent. Indeed, there was a mild protest over the presence of some non-NEC members.
This was after President Muhammadu Buhari dismissed the recent gale of defections at the National Assembly in which 14 senators and 37 members of the House of Representatives left the APC for opposition parties as a mere dent that did not affect APC’s superstructure or majority in the federal legislature.
Also, National Chairman of the party, Mr Adams Oshiomhole described the defectors as migrant politicians without political address, who are constantly defecting every electoral season.
The NEC’s decisions
Briefing journalists at the end of the NEC meeting, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong said when the matter came up for discussion, most of the states opted to use indirect primaries. Consequently, it was agreed that any state wishing to adopt the direct method would have to write the national leadership of the party for approval.
Vanguard gathered that no fewer than 34 states opted for the indirect mode of voting.
“The constitution of the party provides for either direct, indirect or consensus but for the presidential election we all agreed that we will adopt direct primaries for the presidential election. Also, a recommendation was made by the NWC that the other states should adopt the indirect mode but there may be situations that this might be difficult in the state looking at their peculiarities. So, if there are such difficulties, they can apply, following the process,” Lalong said.
Asked about logistics for the presidential primaries considering claims by the party that it has over 12 million members, Lalong said if the party encountered any hitch while using the direct option, it is at liberty to switch to another method.
“Well, we were given assurances by those doing the exercise. We have started an online registration in the different states now and we now have assurance that in the next two weeks we should be able to have all the processes concluded and of course, a register.
The party gave assurances that they will do their best to meet up with the deadline but in any case, if there are difficulties, the options are still given to the party, to the NWC to come back and say it is difficult for us to do and then they may come back to another mode of election”, he said.
On other resolutions reached at the meeting, the governor said: “About two or three things were discussed. First, the document in respect of the guidelines of the election, mode of election, funding and the necessity for unity within the party after the gale of defections here and there.
“On the issue of defections, the party unanimously agreed that it has not affected us much and has even tightened the party the more. On the issue of mode of election, we all decided that for the presidential election, we are going into direct primaries but for other elections,there are two options. But the general option is that we go in for indirect option but any state that has a problem and will want to deviate is at liberty to write and following the normal process, with a resolution from the state executive to the national executives.”
NWC empowered to fix dates for primaries
On the issue of sequence of election, he said it was directed back to the National Working Committee, NWC, to be addressed in line with the Electoral Act.
Lalong continued: “On the issue of funding, a standing committee was set up to look at funding generally for the party. In respect to automatic ticket, we didn’t discuss the issue of automatic tickets. We discussed that patriotic and loyal members should be rewarded but not necessarily with automatic tickets. We are saying some senators, our senators who are patriotic, who are supposed to be taken away were all kept in the party. So, all states should look at that and then we will find ways of rewarding them. But democracy is giving options to everybody to contest election.”
High cost of nomination forms
Earlier, there were reports of sharp disagreements among participants at the meeting over the cost of nomination forms for elective offices which was said to be on the high side. Lalong however said the issue did not generate any controversy.
“The cost of nomination; we debated that and I think we left it again to the NWC taking into consideration some of the views that were expressed, to come out with a reasonable figure; and any figure will be accepted, we don’t need to come back to NEC to ratify,” he stated.
At the end of the meeting, the party resolved that; “Primary elections into all elective offices shall be by Direct and Indirect Elections or by Consensus. The use of the direct and indirect primaries shall however depend on the peculiarity and need of a given state.
“In each case, the State Executive Committee shall, in consultation with critical stakeholders of the party in a given state, identify and forward for the consideration and approval by the National Working Committee NWC for the mode of election to be adopted.
“The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the party’s primary election i.e. State Assembly, Senate, House of Representatives and for the Governorship election.
“The request for the selection of mode of election must be signed by majority members of the executive committee in attendance at the meeting where such resolution is reached.”
Protest over presence of non-NEC members
National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu who has been accused by some stakeholders of pushing for direct primaries was sighted at the national secretariat of the party while the NEC meeting was on.
Although, he did not enter the NEC meeting hall, a governor in one of the North-West states protested the presence of some non-NEC members at the meeting. The governor had approached some party officials and sought to know why such people were allowed in, saying he would take up the matter with Oshiomhole.
Defections merely made a dent on APC — Buhari
Before the NEC went into a closed-door meeting, President Buhari insisted that the ruling party remained the majority in the Senate, saying the wave of defections recently witnessed in the National Assembly merely made a dent on the party as it did not affect its super-structure.
Speaking at the sixth National Executive Committee NEC meeting of the party Thursday in Abuja, Buhari also promised that the ruling party would set the pace in the conduct of its primaries by adhering strictly to all constitutional provisions. The President pledged to continue to work in the interest of Nigerians by providing purposeful leadership at all times.
“Hope is rekindled in our heart that we will give our country purposeful leadership and improve the quality of life of the people. We will continue to secure the country, fight graft and reposition the economy in such a way that jobs can be provided for our youth and give them a future and a hope. We will fulfil all the promises we made to Nigerians. We are fulfilling them and will continue to serve with heart and might to build a nation where peace and justice and prosperity shall reign.’’
Urging the NEC members to ensure that decisions taken the meeting were for the good of the party and meet the yearnings and expectations of APC teeming members and supporters nation wide, the president stressed the need for abiding with the rules to ensure internal harmony and cohesion.
“Let me congratulate the current leadership of our party led by Oshiomhole. The team emerged at a turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of massive defections in such a way that could rock the very foundation of the party. Despite reconciliatory attempts to keep the house together, some members were hell bent on bringing down the roof. They left, threatening to go along with scores of people, thus upsetting the system, but due to the work of the new party leadership their exit barely made a dent on our super structure as they could not muster the figure they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly. APC remain in control and is increasing by the day with quality people joining the party,” he said.
Earlier, in his welcome address, Oshiomhole described those who recently left the ruling party as migrant politicians without any known political address.
He said: “After our elections, we worked hard to meet with people from the states who had issues arising from the congresses and we reassured them that we would treat every case on its merit and I believe that we have done a lot of that and will continue to do what we have to do to ensure that there is peace and unity in the state chapters.
“We also had meetings with the APC caucus in the Senate and thereafter we had a meeting with the APC caucus in the House of Representatives. At those meetings, we reassured everyone that as a party that is democratic, there will be issues and contestations but that the most important thing is for us to be able to see through the issues.
“I am happy to report that as a result of those engagements, many senators and members of the House of Representatives renewed confidence in our party, but those who were determined to leave, not on account of what anybody has done wrong against them, but on account of an ambition they believe they cannot realize on our platform, even though they were not denied the opportunity to try out that ambition…
‘’For distant observers, they think that this is a huge blow to our party. I made a comment which seems to have been misunderstood in some quarters, when I said that if some individuals of no particular fixed political address decide to leave, I will not lose my sleep. I speak of no particular fixed address because if you have a history of moving every season from one political party to the other with one constant thing in mind, to contest, now what is your political address?’’