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Direct Primaries: Real reasons Govs couldn’t openly confront Oshiomhole

•Marafa confirms our report
on choice of primaries
•N45 million Form: APC Presidential Aspirant accuses Buhari of breaching the law
•APC insists no breach of law

By Omeiza Ajayi

The intrigues that played out leading to what looked like a reversal of the position of the 6th National Executive Committee NEC of the All Progressives Congress APC might have gone “unchallenged” by majority of the governors of the party for the simple reason that the choice of direct primaries was a popular decision among the mass of APC supporters across the country, Saturday Vanguard has learned.

APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole

This was as a senator from Zamfara state, Kabiru Marafa confirmed last Saturday Vanguard’s report on how presidency strategists led by Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu sold the direct primary narrative to the party leadership in order to extricate President Muhammadu Buhari from the political jaws of the state governors who wanted to continue to exert tremendous influence on party delegates, using them only as bargaining chips during the Presidential Primaries.

Marafa told Saturday Vanguard that it took the political sagacity of Mr Tinubu to see through the cloak of the governors who he described as “friends of the president during the day and enemies at night”.

The initial NEC decision as conveyed in a party statement and in briefings by governors of Plateau and Kogi, direct election was to be used only for the presidential primaries, a position which changed the evening of the following day to include congresses in the states.

While the governors had been meeting and voicing their protests through proxies, it was resolved among them to go back to their individual states, convene a state executive committee meeting and adopt the indirect primary method or consensus.

Hence, many of the states have started going public with their decisions, with a large chunk of them revolting against direct primaries.

Saturday Vanguard learned that the governors decided to take the back seats and work through proxies so that the members of the APC favoured by the direct primary option would not revolt against them. Their decision was also to avoid being seen as going against the president whose handlers reportedly have a preference for the option of direct primary.

However, while states like Borno and Kaduna cited insecurity as reason for going against direct primaries, others say most states do not have membership registers at the national secretariat or a credible register at the wards.

But senator representing Kaduna central,  Comrade Shehu Sani ruled out insecurity as reason   his state governor, Naris el-Rufa’i wanted indirect primaries. He said apart from the governor being severally on record as saying he had made Kaduna secure, if insecurity was the reason for opting for indirect primaries, then it presupposes that there would be no general elections in the state next year.

“The proponents of Indirect  Primaries  in the  state,  particularly the Governor and his cohorts, rely on the excuse that the current security situation in the state makes  direct  primaries  impracticable and risky. This argument is not nearly as clever as it  should  be  considering  that  it outrightly contradicts claims by the same Governor that Kaduna State has been made secure.  Besides,  the  argument  flies in the face of logic because if security challenges are sufficient grounds  not to adopt and conduct Direct Primaries, then it follows that the 2019 general elections  ought  not to  hold  at  all. If anything,  therefore we use this opportunity to forewarn of the possibility that violence  may be fomented by the  governor  and his hatchet men to undermine the conduct of free, fair credible direct  primaries  in the state”, he declared in a petition sent to the National Working Committee NWC.

N45 million Form: APC Presidential Aspirant accuses Buhari of breaching the law

Meanwhile, one of the presidential aspirants in the APC Dr SKC Ogbonnia has accused President Buhari of breaching provisions of the Electoral Act on Election Finance.

According to him, the President ought to reject the form which was procured for him by a group. “If he accepts the form, it contravenes Section 91 (9) of Nigeria’s Electoral Law (as amended) which states that: ‘No individual or other entity shall donate more than one million naira (1,000,000) to any candidate’, he opined.

Ogbonnia recalled that in a recent letter to Mr Oshiomhole, he had enumerated the consequences of exorbitant nomination fees, especially coming from a progressive party.

“Cost of Nomination Forms: So many figures are being bandied on the media, ranging from 1 million to N55 million for cost of nomination forms. My campaign is willing and able to pay any amount, within the law, for the office of the president… However, not everyone is able. Therefore, for other electoral offices—besides  the office of the president—I strongly appeal to the party to reduce the nomination fees to the barest minimum so that individuals, particularly the youth and women, who aspire to run for office can afford such fees”, he said in his September 1 letter.

“As at the time of this statement, my campaign is yet to receive a reply. Since the deadline is Monday, September 10th, 2018, I am committed to paying for my form, but it is only fair that President Buhari does not break the law to pay for his. I expect our great party to ensure a level playing ground throughout the primaries”, he added.

APC Reacts

In its reaction, APC said  Section 91 (9) of the Electoral Act 2010 (As Amended) refers to a candidate, not am aspirant.

“Aside the fact that there is a world of difference between an  “Aspirant”  and a  “Candidate”  in the eyes of the law, there has been no contravention of the Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)”, Party spokesman, Yekini Nabena said Friday morning.

According to him, the Nigeria Consolidation Ambassadors Network NCAN was responsible for the purchase of the Presidential Form for President Muhammadu Buhari and has indicated that it acted as a collection medium to aggregate micro contributions from thousands of Nigerians keen to ensure his re-election.

“While we restate that as a political Party, the All Progressives Congress APC mandate observance and compliance with the dictates of the law, we also acknowledge that this singular act by thousands of Nigerians severely jolted the ranks of opposition politicians and their paid agents in the media hence their desperate attempt to tar such a noble gesture with the brush of illegality”, he added.

Our Loyalty and Allegiance are to Nigerians, INEC assures

The Independent National Electoral Commission INEC has dismissed allegations by some partisans that the electoral umpire was working in cahoot with the ruling All Progressives Congress APC, assuring Nigerians that its loyalty is to Nigerians and the Constitution.

INEC Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu disclosed this at the commission’s Maiden Merit Award for its staff Thursday night in Abuja.

Yakubu added that no one or group would determine the outcome of elections in the country, but Nigerians alone.

He said; “We will continue to do what we need to do on the basis of our law, processes and procedures. On behalf of the commission, I want to assure Nigerians that our allegiance is to the Federal Republic of Nigeria and our loyalty is to the people of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Votes will count. Votes must count. Nothing, or no one but Nigerians would determine who wins the elections in 2019.

“Our staff are among the most dedicated in the public service in Nigeria. I have no doubt about this. Where necessary, the commission has condemned staff who ran foul of her processes and procedures but condemnation of staff makes no sense outside the context of commendation.

“The extent to which some of our staff go to ensure that Polling Units open at 8am and elections are conducted is simply amazing. In one of the elections we conducted recently, in one of the local government areas, I think in Bauchi South Senatorial District, one of our staff swam across two rivers and walked across a stream in order to get to our polling unit. I have asked the Resident Electoral Commissioner REC to send details of that staff. We are going to write a letter of commendation to him. Other parameters being equal, such staff will qualify for the awards next time but for this time, that person deserves a letter of commendation from the commission.

“INEC is what it is on account of the quality and dedication of its staff. The staff make INEC. Therefore, every opportunity that we have to celebrate our staff is something that this commission would always support, not only open-handedly but support in every legitimate way. It is not just the fact that our terms and conditions of service provide for this kind of awards once in a year but it is also the proper thing to do, taking into cognizance the number of Chairmen   of INEC that we have had.

We have had so many National Commissioners and Resident Electoral Commissioners RECs. But like birds of passage, we are here for a few years and we are gone. The staff are permanent. Elections are ultimately conducted by ‘human beings’ not ‘commissions’. So, the integrity of the election managers is key to the outcome of elections”, he added.

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