One after the other, state chapters of the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday announced their decision not to comply with the directive of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).
The NEC, last week, had declared: “We wish to make the following clarifications on 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.”
But as the time of going to press, the chapters in Nasarawa, Plateau, Ogun, Borno, Kogi, Ondo, Kebbi, Bauchi and Kaduna had all indicated preference for the ‘direct’ opposite.
This was as the spokesman of the party, Yekini Nabena, insisted the decision of the NEC still subsists.
Giving an insight into why the option is the more suitable, the Plateau State chairman, Latep Dabang, said: “Indirect primary is more cost-effective than direct election.
The direct primaries involve a large movement of people from various polling units to the ward centre, to enable them to participate effectively, and that is going to cost a lot of money.
“Our main concern in Plateau is the issue of security.
We have been battling with a lot of security challenges here, and we believe that the indirect primaries will give us a smaller number of people to manage, and you will be able to get them to a location that security operatives will easily police.
“If you are having election going on in 207 wards in the state, there will be security threats and you cannot guarantee when the party primaries will begin and end, coupled with the attacks going on in quite a number of local government areas. We don’t want to put people’s lives at risk.”
His Ondo State counterpart, Ade Adetimehin, noted: “The state government is in dire need of all the money it can garner to boost its agricultural vision, educational programmes and infrastructural development.
It is, therefore, not convenient for the state to expend millions, if not billions of naira, on security and logistics in implementing the direct primaries.
Besides, there is hardly any state chapter that can boast of a comprehensive membership register. This makes conducting credible direct primaries a mirage.”
The concern about a credible register was particularly reinforced by the Speaker of the Adamawa House of Assembly who alleged the APC national chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, was “plotting to smuggle two million fake membership cards into the register to ensure the governorship victory of Alhaji Mahmood Ahmed, the younger brother to President Buhari’s wife.”
But Senator Shehu Sani and some aspirants in Kaduna State petitioned the party, urging it to reject indirect primaries, also describing the idea as a breeding ground for corruption.
According to the senator, who has been having a running battle with Kaduna State Governor Nasir El-Rufai, the mode of primaries is a ploy to use public funds in bribing delegates to toe a pre-determined course of action.
Indirect primaries, he said, is “a factory for producing stooges and a labour room for corrupt practices.”
He added: “The delegate system, otherwise called indirect primaries, will rely on the whims and caprices of the few that now control the party after emerging from ward, local government and state congresses; the congresses that have been widely rejected by party members as a sham. We are particularly in opposition to indirect primaries because of the weakening effects of its corruptive tendencies.”
Sani found an ally in former anti-graft agency boss, Nuhu Ribadu, now Adamawa governorship aspirant, and former secretary to the government of the federation, Babachir Lawal.
Also, Abia State chapter opted for direct primaries. “We have refused to allow few persons to determine those who will fly APC flags in the coming elections and also want to use this to assess the strength of the party in our various localities and wards,” the chairman, Donatus Nwankpa, said, following a meeting at the party’s headquarters in Umuahia.
“Based on the veritable facts available to us, we have decided to make things open through direct primaries in Abia, for the purpose of allowing the grassroots and members of the party choose those who will fly their flags,” he added.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), meanwhile, said it has concluded plans to swell its ranks with more defections from six APC governors and 27 federal lawmakers.
“These interests and movements from the APC to the PDP are indicators of the consensus by Nigerians to rally on the platform of the PDP to end the economic hardship, bloodletting, violence and infrastructural decay that have become the hallmark of the President Buhari-led APC administration, and return our nation to the path of unity, national cohesion and economic prosperity, which the PDP is known for,” said a statement by the party’s spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan.
In a related development, an Abuja High Court granted an order of perpetual injunction restraining the APC and Oshiomhole from nullifying or conducting fresh congresses in Rivers State.
The APC in Rivers State, its chairman, Ojukaye Flag-Amachree, and the executive had approached the court in suit number FCT/HC/BW/CV/115/2018, seeking an injunction against the APC, its national chairman, National Working Committee and NEC from tampering with the Rivers State executive until all pending matters regarding the congresses are resolved.