By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA—National Chairman of All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, has said governors elected on the platform of the party could adopt indirect primaries in the selection of members into elective positions but with a caveat that the process must be transparent.
This came as a group of aspirants in Edo State rejected moves by the state executive of the party to adopt the consensus option in granting automatic return tickets to some serving federal and state lawmakers.
This is even as the party has realised approximately N9.2bn from the sale of nomination forms for elections into the National Assembly. While the party sold 386 Senate nomination forms at the rate of N8m, it sold 1, 587 House of Reps forms at the rate of N3.85m.
Rising from a meeting with APC governors at Imo State Governor’s Lodge in Abuja Wednesday night, Oshiomhole said whichever option, between direct and indirect primaries states choose to adopt, the process must be transparent.
Recall that the decision by the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, to adopt direct primaries at the state level had stoked controversies within the party, with most of the governors preferring to adopt the indirect primaries’ option.
He said: “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.
“That is why, like Governor Rochas Okorocha said, we are committed to transparent primaries and ensure that everyone who has interest in our party is happy.
“We are happy at the level of enthusiasm, measured by the number of persons who have applied for various positions, it shows a huge number of Nigerians still prefer the All Progressives Congress as a 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.
“Secondly, we have spoken on this before, it is not a new decision that our constitution consciously provided for flexibility, first 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 cases, the process is democratic, the rules are fair, the officiating officials are impartial.
“All of us, governors, NWC and even President, agreed that this is the way to go and that is what we are going to do.”
Okorocha, El-Rufai back govs
Chairman of APC Governors Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State and his Kaduna State counterpart, Nasir el-Rufa’i, said the party hierarchy was in agreement with the governors to use either direct or indirect primaries as far as majority of the party executives in a state opt for any of the models.
On his part, Okorocha said: “We just held a meeting 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 and we 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 victory.
“We are calling on all our supporters to support the party. 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 in 2019.
“Like the NEC made it clear, the parties will decide at state level what 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 because there are no skirmishes and scuffles. If you are looking at other parties, you would know there is no party at all.
‘’So, these minor complaints here and there are expected because even in a family, you have it. The NEC has declared that we are going to have direct and indirect primaries and the party at the state level will decide what type of primaries to adopt.”
Governor El-Rufa’i also spoke in the same vein, saying irrespective of some pockets of disagreement in the state, majority of the executives have decided to use indirect primaries in picking the party’s candidates at all levels, except for the Presidency.
“There is no way 100 per cent 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 decides on the mode of primaries.
‘’The Kaduna State that you mentioned, which I am the governor by the grace of God, majority of the State Executive Committee decided on indirect primaries. If one or two members do not agree, that is off; that is not the decision of NEC,” he said.
Group of aspirants reject consensus in Edo
Meanwhile, a group of aspirants in Edo State have rejected moves by the state executive of the party to adopt the consensus option in granting automatic return tickets to some serving federal and state lawmakers.
Addressing journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing APC screening yesterday in Abuja, one of the aspirants vying for Orhionmwon/Uhumwonde Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, Adaze Wilson Imafidon, described the move as fraudulent and illegal.
According to him, the APC chapter of Orhionmwon Local Government Area of Edo State had in controversial circumstances announced consensus candidacies for three returning lawmakers, including Patrick Aisowieren (Orhionmwon/Uhumwonde Federal Constituency); Nosayaba Okunbor (Orhionmwon East Constituency) and Roland Asoro (Orhionmwon South Constituency).
Imafidon said the decision was a breach of the September 11, 2018, procedure for nominating candidates/conditions for consensus candidature issued by the APC National Working Committee and reaffirmed by the Edo State chapter ahead of legislative primaries scheduled for next month.
He said: “Recall that the National Working Committee in its directive/clarification on the procedure for nominating candidates, stated that while consensus is provided for by the party’s constitution, the option is conditional.
‘’Consensus does not foreclose direct or indirect primaries for all elective positions. The NWC stated clearly that consensus will apply when no other aspirant signifies interest, for example, through purchase of nomination forms for the position in question.
“As you can see, aspirants from Edo State, particularly the Orhionmwon/Uhumwonde axis, are being screened. We are all very much in the race. How can a group of people converge on a room, tag themselves stakeholders, exclude aspirants and announce automatic consensus candidacy for returning lawmakers? The decision is dead on arrival. We will surely resist this fraud and illegality.
“Unpopular aspirants who have woefully represented us during their first term in the House of Representatives cannot hide under illegal consensus to retain their seats. Edo electorate are not foolish; they demand quality representation at all levels. We must all go for primaries and test our acceptance and popularity.
“We, hereby, draw the attention of the party’s national leadership under the chairmanship of Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to this fraud and illegality being perpetuated by the Orhionmwon chapter of our great party.’’
Recent reports had indicated that, while Mr Oshiomhole continues to push for direct primaries, Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki, had indicated his preference for the consensus option as a way of staving off controversies.