By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA —The dispute over the mode of selection of candidates of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, for the forthcoming general election is set to take a new twist following the absence of a comprehensive voters’ register to be used for the exercise.
Indicative of the brewing crisis, the party, yesterday, announced a shift in the dates for its primaries for the selection of candidates across all levels.
But whether the postponement would settle the issue was still an issue yet to be resolved yesterday as the majority of party chapters, across the country, were still in dispute over the method to be used in selecting the candidates.
The party had through Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, at the end of its National Executive Committee, NEC, meeting on August 30, announced the use of direct primary for the presidential election and the consensus or indirect primary for the state level and National Assembly primaries.
However, the party, the following day affirmed that all primaries would be by direct primaries except in situations where all stakeholders in the state unanimously resolve to adopt the indirect or consensus method.
The direct primary involves all party members voting at the ward level for whoever is to be adopted for any office, while the indirect primary involves the use of delegates, already pre-chosen during the last congresses to choose party candidates.
However, the majority of the party chapters were to revolt against the decision, and a plot to pass a vote of no confidence on the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led leadership of the party was derailed after intervention from higher quarters of the Federal Government.
To justify their decision not to use direct primary, many of the state chapters claimed that there was no valid membership register to be used in conducting the direct primary.
Vanguard gathered that many of the state chapters had complained of lack of a membership database even before the party’s decision weeks ago to embark on fresh registration as well as revalidation of old members.
With the revalidation exercise recently concluded, some of the states have had difficulty trying to meet up with the party’s deadline to have a reliable register in place.
Though, the leadership of the party had last week claimed to have registered and revalidated nearly 16 million members, many of its state chapters have not been able to come up with a clean copy of their membership registers, a precondition for the conduct of the direct primaries.
A party official told Vanguard in Abuja that many of the states especially those who are not predisposed to having direct primaries, have continually hinged the delay on logistic challenge, a development that has forced the Comrade Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC, to ask officials from the national secretariat to work with the state chapters and ensure that a credible register is put in place.
Party spokesman, Yekini Nabena, could not be immediately reached as he was out of the country. Chief Press Secretary to the chairman, Mr. Simon Ebegbulem, was, however, optimistic that the rescheduled congresses and primaries would be conducted without any major hitch.
Perhaps to accommodate the reservations, the party yesterday announced that it has abridged its schedule of activities for the selection of candidates for various offices in next year’s general elections.
National Organizing Secretary of the party, Emma Ibediro announced the changes in a statement, yesterday in Abuja. As opposed to the earlier date of September 20, the presidential primaries would now hold on September 25, while that of governorship has been shifted to September 29. The National Convention to affirm the party’s sole presidential candidate would, however, still holds on October 6.
The exercise he said was postponed as a result of logistics challenges, especially the need to get a clean and digitized membership register in place. The party had weeks ago embarked on a nationwide registration of new members and revalidation of old members.
Meanwhile, the party also yesterday began the screening of all its aspirants with those vying for state assembly seats to be screened at their various state capitals till Friday. However, all other aspirants would be screened at the nation’s capital, Abuja.