By Omeiza Ajayi
ABUJA: The plot by some governors of the ruling All Progressives Congress APC to give a soft landing to their counterpart in Edo State, Mr. Godwin Obaseki failed on Monday as they could not get the party leadership to change its decision to use direct primary in selecting its governorship candidate ahead of the September 19 elections.
The governors were led to the meeting by the Chairman of the Progressive Governors Forum PGF, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi state. Others who are at the meeting are Rotimi Akeredolu of Ondo state, Babajide Sanwo-Olu (Lagos), Simon Lalong (Plateau), Abdullahi Umar Ganduje (Kano), Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq (Kwara) and Muhammed Inuwa (Gombe).
Although Bagudu denied broaching the issue of the mode of the primary election in Edo state, multiple party sources who were privy to the outcome of the meeting said the governors had wanted the party to sanction the indirect primary method for the state as. Wing canvassed by Mr. Obaseki.
Having listened to the governors, the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole had insisted that the mode of the primary would be the direct method, hinging his action on the 2018 decision of a meeting of the National Executive Committee NEC of the party.
Oshiomhole was said to have insisted that fielding the incumbent would incur losses for the party, saying the governor is not on good terms with political players in the state.
“There are 14 lawmakers who have not been sworn in until now by the governor. Oshiomhole told the governors who visited the party that those 14 lawmakers who were elected by their own people could go against Obaseki should he be given the ticket”, said a party source.
Another source said the party is not ready to lose the state and that the national chairman would in the coming days meet President Muhammadu Buhari on the Edo issue.
“Sure, he will be meeting with the president soon but of course you know that Mr. President is a man who sticks to the law. He would want the party’s constitution to be respected.
“The NEC already took a position on the mode of primary elections and the president was part of that NEC meeting. If there must be indirect primary in any state, there are certain conditions that must be met and none has been met in the case of Edo”, he added.
Section 13 (V) of the APC Constitution (2014 as amended) stipulates that the NWC, “shall, in particular, propose to the National Executive Committee NEC, Party electoral regulations, to govern the conduct of elections to all Party offices at every level and to govern the Procedure for selecting Party candidates for elective offices, subject to the of this Constitution.”
And so it was that the NWC on August 30, 2018, proposed the direct method of primary to the NEC. The said meeting consequently stipulated how primary elections should be conducted. While it can be argued that the NEC resolutions were for the 2019 General Elections, it might be instructive to add that no further meetings of NEC have been held to invalidate its 2018 decision regarding the mode of primaries.
In an updated statement by the then acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Yekini Nabena after the said 2018 NEC meeting, the party held that; “The 30th August 2018 resolution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) on the mode of Primary Election has been subject to inferences and misleading interpretations.
“As an update to the earlier released statement, we wish to make the following clarifications on NEC’s resolutions on Mode of Primary Election: Primary elections into all elective offices shall be by Direct Primaries; NEC resolved to adopt Direct Primaries for the nomination of the Presidential candidate and all other Primaries; The Party’s constitution though provides for Indirect Election and Consensus, however, the use of Indirect Primaries is conditional and dependent on logistic impediments; peculiarities and need of a given state that makes it unable to use Direct Primaries.
“The State Executive Committee SEC shall in consultation with aspirants and other critical stakeholders of the Party in a given State forward for the consideration and approval by the National Working Committee NWC if Indirect Primaries is to be adopted. The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the Party’s Primary Elections i.e. State Assembly, Senate, House of Representatives, and for the Governorship Elections.
“The request for Indirect Primaries must be signed by the majority of the State Executive Committee and critical stakeholders in attendance at the meeting where such resolution is reached.
“Direct Primaries will among others ensure fairness; create a level playing ground for contestants; eliminate corrupt tendencies usually associated with the delegates system and ultimately ensure full participation of party members at all levels”.