The All Progrssives Congress (APC) at the weekend moved to prevent dissent by some of its leaders over the decision to adopt direct primary to pick its candidates for the 2019 elections.
Governors are believed to be opposed to the system, which allows all card-carrying members of the party to participate in picking candidates. They favour indirect primary, which is the delegates system.
Governors Simon Lalong (Plateau) and Yahaya Bello (Kogi), who briefed reporters after the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting on Thursday, said the party adopted direct primary to pick the presidential candidate and indirect primary for other offices.
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They added that states that wished to use direct primary would write to the National Working Committee (NWC) for permission.
But the NWC on Friday said the correct decision at the NEC meeting was the adoption of direct primary for all offices with states which intended to use indirect system to seek the NWC’s permission in writing, supported with evidence of support by stakeholders.
Yesterday, some state chairmen defied the warning by the national secrertariat to hold a meeting in opposition to the party’s decision on direct primary.
The meeting, which was initially scheduled for the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja was moved to the Barcelona Hotel, a few meters from the party’s secretariat.
The chairmen are believed to have bowed to pressure from their governors as they were said to be considering passing a vote of no confidence on the Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC.
Some governors seeking a second term are belived to be opposed to the direct primary option.
Before yesterday’s meeting, it was learnt that the NWC reached out to the state chairmen through their coordinator, the Borno State Chairman of the APC, Ali Bukari Dalori to explain its position.
One of the chairmen who attended the meeting said the party wrote a letter to them on Saturday to clarify the issues. He did not disclose the content of the letter.
Another state chairman who spoke on the condition of anonymity confirmed that the state party leaders “will do everything possible to resist imposition of direct primary, including passing a vote of no confidence in the Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC.”
While refusing to be quoted, he told reporters that the meeting was essentially to protest “the highhandedness of the party leadership and its insistence on direct primaries”.
Apart from state chairmen who attended the meeting, one of the national vice chairmen, two ex-officio members and some national officers, were seen coming out of the venue.
“Majority of the state chairmen are here and those that could not make it sent representatives. We are still talking and our resolutions will be made known to the public very soon but it won’t be today (yesterday) because we are still consulting and meeting,” one of the attendees said.
The party’s national leadership earlier yesterday raised the alarm over the meeting which it said was an attempt to alter the party’s decision on the mode of primary election.
An ex-officio member who also attended the meeting said the governors and some national officers were not happy with the direct primary option, adding that as leaders of the party in the states, they would do everything to protect their interest.
He said: “The state chairmen will do everything possible to resist the imposition of direct primaries on the party, including passing a vote of no-confidence on Oshiomhole and his NWC members.”
In an attempt to truncate the meeting, the party’s statement by Acting National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena said: “The attention of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC has been drawn to an illegal meeting scheduled to hold on Sunday at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja by some members of our Party organs, with a view to fault the decisions made by the NWC followed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) as regards the mode of the Party’s primary elections.
“We want to state clearly that the meeting which has been fixed for 2pm is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our party ahead the 2019 General Elections and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the Party.”
The statement said the outcome of such a meeting, which is already known, will be a nullity, adding that members should disregard such meetings in the interest of the Party.
It also said that it had identified those behind the meeting and would have them sanctioned, unless they retrace their steps.
“It is illegal to call such meetings outside the purview of the constituted authority.
“The identities of those plotting such meetings have been identified and unless they desist from such they will be dealt with in line with the Party’s Constitution at the appropriate time.
“The NWC will resist any attempt to disrupt the current peace and harmony prevailing in our great Party after the exit of some members of our Party.
‘We urge any member who is not satisfied with the decisions of the Party to utilise channels provided by the party’s constitution to air their views.
*We remain focused in delivering good governance to Nigerians and above, all ensuring the victory for our party come 2019 and we will not be intimidated by the antics of a few in ensuring success for our party,” it said.
Addressing journalists at his residence before the APC NEC meeting last week, National Vice Chairman (Northeast) Comrade Mustapha Salihu accused some leaders of the party from the Southwest to foster what he called “regional imperialism” on the party.
He said that apart from the fact that the system requires a lot of supervision, the electoral body was not prepared for the system. Saying “Before now, I didn’t have any feelings that there was a 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 canvass 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 succumb to regional imperialism so long as we are acting within the constitution.”