Direct primaries: APC heading for implosion?


…It’ll deepen internal democracy – Tinubu

…Zamfara, Kaduna, Delta, others polarised

…No room for imposition of indirect primaries’

…Fifth columnists may frustrate candidates – Marafa

Primary elections of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) for the candidates that would fly its flag in next year’s general elections, stated for September 20, 25, 27, 29 and October 2, respectively, may see the party fighting a battle for its soul, following the National Executive Committee’s (NEC) adoption of direct primaries for its presidential candidate, while giving the state chapters the go-ahead to adopt either direct, indirect or consensus methods.
The directive, which came with a caveat that any model that would be adopted in any state must be agreed to by the governor, state executive committee and critical stakeholder is with a view to ensuring seamless primaries across board.
Osun as litmus test Osun state was the first to embrace direct primaries with its attendant challenges as some of its members dumped the party shortly after the primaries.
At the end of the exercise, which was held in July, about one month before the APC hierarchy towed this line of primaries, Alhaji lhaji Isiaka Gboyega Oyetola, who is the Chief of State to the Governor of the state, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola, emerged the party’s governorship candidate ahead of the September 22 governorship election in the state.
The adoption of the model in the state was met with kudos and knocks.
For a group of observers, Coalition of Civil Societies, which monitored the APC governorship primary election in Osun, the direct primary reduced manipulation and inducement of voters with money as well as strengthened internal democracy.
The leader of the group, Mr.
Wale Adebisi, said: “From all variables and indices available to us on the field, the direct primary is actually the best so as to encourage internal, all inclusive democracy, because every party member is involved.
“It eliminates the emerging trend where aspirants camped delegates and bribe each with huge amount of money.
It also eliminates manipulation to a large extent.
We hereby encourage every other political party to embrace this process of direct party primary so as to improve the internal democracy of the party politics which will gradually reduce the issue of financial inducement.” States for, against As at the last count, 15 states, have taken decision on model that would be used in their states.
While Lagos, Kano, Niger, Cross Rivers, and Delta states have embraced direct primaries, Plateau, Kaduna, Ondo, Sokoto, Nassarawa, Borno, Yobe and Zamfara states are going for indirect primaries; just as Ogun and Kebbi states have declared in favour of consensus candidature.
States going for direct primaries have argued that it would imbue greater confidence among members, guarantee openness and ensure free and fair election.
Besides, they noted that the system would ensure more transparency in the political process and avoid the secrecy that hitherto shrouded the selection of candidates.
However, states like Borno and Plateau cited security challenge as the major reason for their action.
In Plateau state, a former Speaker of the state Assembly, Hon.
Johnclerk Dabwan, who moved the motion for the adoption of the indirect primaries, said: “Having gone through the provisions of our party’s constitution and the resolution of its NEC, where it suggested direct, indirect or consensus method in conducting our primaries, I want to move that Plateau state should adopt indirect primaries.
“The security challenges currently bedevilling us will make directprimaries very difficult and cumbersome.” In Delta state, the faction loyal with Olorogun Otega Emerhor and Chief Hyacinth Enuha, praised the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC, for its decision on Direct Primaries in the election of candidates for the upcoming elections.
But the Great Ogboru and Senator Ovie Omo-Agege faction rejected it and hinged its position on forestalling crisis.
Also, the indirect model adopted in both Kaduna and Ondo states have come under attack as the Senator representing Ondo North Senatorial District of the state, Prof Ajayi Boroffice, has rejected the decision of the party’s enlarged State Working Committee (SWC).
Boroffice, who is having running battle with Governor Rotimi Akeredolu as regards the modality to be adopted for the party’s primary, condemned the ratification of the indirect primary.
In a statement signed by his Media Aide, Kayode Fakuyi, Boroffice said the decision to adopt indirect primary for elective positions in the state, “is not the true reflection and correct representation of the position of Ondo APC.” Also, the senator representing Kaduna Central, Shehu Sani, has insisted that direct system of primaries remains the best option for the APC to ensure that popular and credible candidates emerge for the party to be victorious in the 2019 general elections.
He noted that “the safest, fairest and best thing is for us to throw this thing open if you are not afraid of the people that you are aspiring to represent, subject yourself to election by them.” Reacting to the stand of the state APC opting for indirect primaries in the state in ensuring the emergence of its candidates in the 2019 general elections, Sani told newsmen in Kaduna that: “The position taken by the party today is a request to the national secretariat of the party.
We have also made our position very clear so it is left for the national secretariat to take a position.” Another APC Senatorial aspirant for Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Malam Usman Ibrahim, pitched tent with the party’s national leadership decision to adopt direct primaries for all elective positions, noting that it would produce strong candidates.
He noted that the decision to use direct primaries by the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was apt, saying: “We applaud the timely intervention of President Buhari for bringing in an astute administrator and a tested democrat who in his wisdom adopted the option of direct primaries.
“This, direct primaries, will ensure emergence of only popular candidates to bear the party’s flags at all levels.
Sustenance of internal democracy is hallmark of a good party and an important ingredient in a representative democracy like ours.
It enriches our democracy and strengthens our party to be a formidable force in the forthcoming 2019 elections.” Tinubu’s stand National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who many believe is the voice behind the adoption of the direct primaries, while championing the adoption of the model for Osun APC governorship primaries, argued that it would deepen internal democracy in the party.
“It will also serve to galvanise the party membership for the general election that lies ahead.
Moreover, direct primaries will serve as a future deterrent to those who might have tried to corrupt the delegate system of obtaining nominations.
“With that system, the temptation to ‘buy’ delegates was an everpresent weakness.
Now, such a venal undertaking will prove much too costly and uncertain to be entertained as feasible strategy,” the former governor of Lagos state argued.
Also, in a recent media interview, Tinubu alleged that some governors elected on the platform of the party are against the direct primaries model, stating that: “…But some of those governors who, afraid of their own shadows and possible nemesis by engaging with the generality of their party members at open primaries, are averse to direct primaries.” Zamfara may witness parallel primaries Though, the APC leadership in Zamfara state has settled for indirect primaries, the Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabaru Marafa, claimed his faction has adopted direct primaries.
Marafa, who spoke with Blueprint Weekend, said: “There are peculiarities from one state to another.
In my own state, I don’t have any problem.
I wrote the party through my lawyers because I am in court.
I am challenging the illegality of these congresses and I have absolute confidence in my God, I have confidence in the judicial system of Nigeria.
“Having seen that we conducted parallel congresses, I don’t recognise what they, Governor Abdullazeez Yari’s faction, have; they don’t recognise what I have.
“The party here is at liberty to do what they want to do, the very NWC recognised a faction but thank God, we have the judiciary, we are there, and I believe it may take some time, but the judiciary will do the right thing.
“So, we have opted for direct primaries and the reason is simple.
We don’t want to be like them, we don’t want to be selfish, we want APC to win Zamfara, they don’t want APC to win Zamfara; they don’t want APC to win Nigeria.
“There are some of the technicalities on those things, but it doesn’t matter.
If the APC headquarters wakes up tomorrow and say that, like I said, we have written, they have written also, they said they want indirect, we said we want direct, it is for the APC headquarters to determine what manner of primary.
“If APC says go for indirect, I will do my direct with my own direct set of executive, they will do their indirect with their own set of executive.
So, when the time comes for the court to rule, if they say Marafa is right, I am going home and retire.
Thank God I have done business before I came to Senate.” No imposition of indirect primaries The APC acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, has vowed that the party would not tolerate the imposition of indirect primaries on its members, saying that any model that would be adopted should be a product of all the stakeholders involved.
Nabena, who spoke in an interview with Blueprint Weekend in Abuja on Friday said: “We are aware of this development in some states, and we are also aware that some other states have said they wanted Direct primary but let me tell you that the position of the APC leadership remains that an individual or a group cannot just say they want an indirect primary.
“If any state wants an indirect primary, we expect all the critical stakeholders with the state executive to come up with a report which will clearly state how the issues of logistic will be addressed.
“The National Working Committee (NWC) will look into the report and may approve accordingly if the report is able to convince the NWC.
But be assured that the NWC will not tolerate a situation where a group or an individual will force indirect primary on the whole state.” As it stands, the party may be drifting into another around of crisis.
The events of the next couple of days and mechanism put in place by the APC hierarchy to cushion the aftermaths of the primaries will go a long way in determining the fate of the party in the forthcoming polls at all levels.



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