By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA— Some All Progressives Congress, APC, governors have threatened to cut off funding for the party in retaliation for its determination to use the direct primaries method in the selection of candidates for the forthcoming general elections.
The governors’ threat came as the party, yesterday, formally gave conditions for the use of consensus option in the adoption of candidates.
While noting that consensus arrangements do not bar it from forging ahead with direct or indirect primaries, the party said it could only hold in situations where only one person purchased the nomination form.
Meanwhile, National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, yesterday, cited the seeming threat of the governors to cut off funding as reasons for the high cost of the nomination forms. He said so when he received a delegation of Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, who came to present a cheque of N56.8 million to support President Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign.
The face-off between the governors and the national leadership followed the strong pressure by Oshiomhole for adoption of the direct primaries method for the emergence of the party’s candidates. Oshiomhole had claimed that it was tidier and would minimise the corruption that was prevalent in the indirect or delegate system.
Many of the governors have, however, rejected the pleas of the national leadership as most of them have settled for the indirect method.
However, since the APC constitution allows for a consensus, aside from direct and indirect primaries, some of the governors were said to have gone shopping for pliable “consensus” candidates. Party sources said the move by a few of the governors, especially in the North-West and North-East, was another tricky method of imposing candidates.
“When they say consensus, we know what they mean. We have been in the system for long, and it was very easy for us to see through them. What some of them are calling consensus is intimidation by another name. They intimidate others out of the race in order to pave the way for their preferred candidates, and then they label it a consensus. What manner of consensus do you do with less than half of the aspirants and other stakeholders in attendance? The new APC leadership will not accept such imposition through the back door,” a top party source told Vanguard.
Party moves to halt imposition
As a way of halting imposition of candidates, the national leadership of the party has outlined conditions to be met by its state chapters before adopting consensus as an option in its forthcoming congresses and primary elections.
The party in a statement by its acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, said though consensus remained a constitutional option, it could only be a last resort where only one person has purchased the nomination and expression of interest forms.
The statement read: “The attention of the All Progressives Congress, APC, has been drawn to announcements of consensus candidates for elective positions in some states.
“It is, therefore, pertinent to make some clarifications to enlighten party faithful on the procedure for nominating candidates.
“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 as contained in the resolution of the 6th meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee, NEC.
“Again, consensus will apply when no other aspirant signifies interest (i.e., through the purchase of nomination forms) for the position in question.”
However, in what looked like a subtle threat to the party, some of the governors were said to have recently complained of lack of funds to prosecute direct primaries, saying the party might have to look for alternative sources of funding the direct primaries.
Vanguard, however, learned that the party was unperturbed by the subtle threats, as it would deploy a chunk of the money generated from the sale of nomination and expression of interest forms for that purpose.
Why nomination fees are high
Oshiomhole, yesterday, opened up on the reasons for what had been decried as the high nomination fees to be paid by aspirants. The presidential nomination forms were set at N45 million, governorship at N22.5 million and senatorial forms at N7 million.
Receiving a delegation of the Rice Farmers Association of Nigeria, who came with a cheque of N56.8 million to support Buhari, Oshiomhole said the fees were set to generate funds to enable the party conduct direct primaries.
While observing the generosity of the rice farmers, he said President Buhari observed that the fees were high but noted that the President was mollified after he explained to him the reason.
“Our President protested that the fee we are charging for our Presidential form was too high, that it is beyond his income. We said well, there were real causes we intend to incur in conducting transparent primaries across the country and we have to pay for it. But I told him that sir, you have many admirers who will contribute the money,” Oshiomhole said.
Receiving the cheque of N56.8 million, Comrade Oshiomhole observed that the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and its presidential aspirants were jittery ahead of the 2019 general election, given the support for Buhari by 12.2million rice farmers across the country who are registered voters.
The rice farmers were led on the visit by the governor of Kebbi State, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu, who is the grand patron of the association and its National President, Aminu Goronyo. Goronyo explained that their contribution was in appreciation of the over N100 billion loan facilities President Buhari’s administration provided for the farmers.
Governor Bagudu who commended the efforts made so far by the present government to encourage rice farming in Nigeria, said the efforts had yielded fruit, turning many of the farmers into millionaires.
Oshiomhole mocks PDP
Speaking at the event, Comrade Oshiomhole mocked the PDP, saying the party is jealous of the support being enjoyed by President Buhari across the country.
He said: “Our opponents are jittery. When some faceless people contributed money for one of the aspirants of PDP, he looked at them and said I have enough to buy all of you; he cried a little bit just for effect.
“Not a word was spoken in the media about the morality or the legality or illegality of it. I thought the media would ask what the morality of those who have nothing giving to the rich is. When our own President, who does not have, and some people decided to raise money to buy his form, suddenly it became an issue that why should people buy nomination forms for aspirants?
“But let me say that we need Nigerians who are committed to policy stability and who believe in a candidate to raise funds not only for the form but the mass mobilization.
We need money for direct primaries — Oshiomhole
“In the case of our President, he will even need more money because our party’s decision is that we have to organize direct primaries and we need money. But I am glad it is the confidence Nigerians have in the leadership of our President that different groups are contributing money for his campaign.”
Oshiomhole, who alleged how the PDP-led administration gave Nigerians poisonous rice, narrated: “One of the scandals that we had to deal with when I was governor, was when I had the honour to preside over a meeting of the governors and the former Customs Comptroller-General was lamenting to us how people they granted waiver to import rice exceeded the quota they were given and imported more rice into the country, and he claimed that they defrauded the Federal Government about N22 billion in waivers.
‘’We saw PDP ministers lamenting that the rice in our markets were expired products and I asked, who elected them to lament? They allowed this expired rice into the country; they proceeded to grant them waivers, they exceeded the waivers they were given.
‘’Even former President Jonathan lamented they must recover the excess money from those farmers.”