Comrade Mustapha Salihu is the National Vice Chairman of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in the North-east.
While addressing newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, he speaks on the reasons why his party may not adopt Direct Primary system for now, why South-west leaders are agitating for it and why the party will not succumb to ‘regional imperialism.’ BODE OLAGOKE, reports
What is the stand of your party on direct primary for now? There is a lot of talks and arguments for and against direct and indirect primary, this mode of primary are basically the same the difference is not much in terms of outcome, but where the difference lies is in the processes, and the level of logistics and resources required to undergo this primaries.
I want to make this assertion, advanced democracy moved from option A4 to direct primaries, then to indirect primaries then to electronic voting.
So, the direct primary is not a new mode of primary, it is something that we have been practicing before with the advancement of electoral college that we have decided to go indirect.
If you remember part of the parties that formed the merger was CPC.
CPC in 2011 we went through direct primaries and we didn’t find it funny because there were some prerequisites we didn’t meet before we embarked on that primaries, if you go back to memory lane we couldn’t fill candidates in Kastina, Kaduna, Kano and Bauchi states because thereby making the processes very porous , many candidates emerged and there was so many Court orders flying restraining us from sending names to INEC in the end we will now send a dummy, that is how we entered into the election without clear candidates and you remember a lot of House of Representatives seat that we won that were later annulled by court because of fault in the processes of the primaries.
This is not to say that direct primaries is not possible, it is possible but we need a lot of preparation and a lot of work, it is not something that you just stand up one day and just think about it anespecially, it is something that you have to prepared for because of the people involved, in the state most especially.
It is different when you are conducting an election for ward chairman and councillor where it is homogenous society and maybe the contestants are related either through marriage or through blood, you will find out that the rancour will be very easy to solve at the community level without much supervision but when you want to do direct primary at the governorship level, senatorial seat and House of Representatives or member of the House of Assembly is involved the stake is beyond that of the ward the primaries is taking place, so, a lot of supervision is required, otherwise, even people from another ward can come and create trouble.
What is the National caucus meeting stand concerning this? Caucus is not a decision making body, if you check our constitution caucus is just an organ, it is an advisory body.
It is just a transitory organ where memo from National Working Committee pass through, it now go to National Executive Council, NEC for decision.
Any decision you want to get on whether we have to go for direct or indirect primaries you have to wait for the outcome of the NEC .
I am aware that some members of the House of Representatives from certain part of the country are circulating text messages to their colleagues that a decision has been reached as to the nature of the primary to be used by the party.
What the NWC’s delibration on the primary? NWC deliberated on the matter, the reason why I am doing this is that some people are trying to mislead members of the public claiming that some decision I now begin to suspect, if one region feels that was what is best for them, I think they can canvassed that at the regional level and they now give us reason why they need that, I want to believe that in a democracy, the majority have their way and the minority have their say came from the party or an organ of the party.
Any decision that will come from the party will be deceminated officially from the spokesperson of the party.
We should wait for the outcome of the NEC tomorrow.
So, is NWC divided on the method to use for the primary? I cannot say divided, because division is a big word for us to use in family issue, actually there may be divergent views, and all these divergent views will be trashed out at the NEC.
As a national officer do you forsee hidden agenda by some party leaders in the South-west clamouring for direct primary Before now I don’t have any feelings that there was possibility of conspiracy, but when I see people planting stories, I now begin to suspect, if one region feels that was what is best for them, I think they can canvassed that at the regional level and they now give us reason why they need that, I want to believe that in a democracy, the majority have their way and the minority have their say.
So, they have the right to wish and if we decide to make it flexible, definately what they want will be given to them at their own various states, but one thing I want to assure you is that we will not succumbs to regional imperialism so long that we are acting within the constitution.
Tell us the latest regarding your party’s ongoing registration of party members? Even, the decision on registration of party members will be rectified by the NEC, actually we have a proposal that we are going to give to the NEC, then the NEC will now decided whether to continue or not but I want to assure you that the basic prerequisite for direct primary is voters register and membership card which can be verified, until and when we have that I don’t think we will tough the line of direct primary.