Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Chukwudi Akasike, Sam Awoyinfa, Godwin Isenyo and Chidiebube Okeoma
The National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress on Tuesday released its approved mode of primaries for 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory for Saturday’s governorship primaries.
According to the list, the direct method, which involves all registered card carrying members of the party; and the indirect mode where elected and statutory delegates take part, will be used.
The APC NWC released the list of approved methods in a statement by the party’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in Abuja.
The states that are to elect their governorship candidates via the direct method are Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Cross River, Edo, Ekiti, Imo and Kano.
Others are Lagos, Niger, Ogun, Ondo, Osun, Taraba, Zamfara and the Federal Capital Territory.
States that got the nod to pick candidates using the indirect mode are Adamawa, Benue, Borno, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Katsina and Kebbi.
Others are Nasarawa, Oyo, Kogi, Kwara, Plateau, Rivers, Sokoto and Yobe.
Before the Tuesday directive of the APC NWC, some state chapters of the party, including Ogun, Oyo, Ondo, Imo and Bauchi, had adopted indirect primaries
The Ogun State chapter of the APC had, at a meeting attended by the state executive of the party, leaders and lawmakers on Thursday, opted for indirect primaries.
In Imo, Governor Rochas Okorocha-backed state executive had said it preferred the indirect primaries despite the opposition of stakeholders, including Senator Hope Uzodima.
The requests of state chapters of the party in Adamawa, Kaduna, Oyo and Rivers for indirect primaries were, however, approved by the NWC.
The PUNCH gathered that the NWC, after weighing options available to it, decided to change the methods in some states.
It was further learnt that such was the case in Imo State where the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha hails from, as the NWC opted for direct primaries.
A highly placed member of the party, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to journalists on the issue, said the decision had to be taken to save the party from implosion.
The source said, “The case of Imo, especially, had to be handled carefully because it is currently our stronghold in the South-East. We decided that we must take a position which will encourage members to remain in the fold. We went for direct primary for two reasons.
“One, we have cases in court arising from the last state congresses. We have learnt a thing or two from the legal tussle between the former National Chairman of the PDP, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, and the Chairman of the party’s National Caretaker Committee, Senator Ahmed Makarfi.
“If we go for the indirect method and the court nullifies the actions of the faction of the state executive in charge of the process, we will have a problem but if we have the direct method where all card carrying members of the party participate we will be safer, it is that simple.
“Secondly, the direct method is more difficult if not impossible to manipulate and the outcome is likely to generate less acrimony.”
Recall that Article 20 of the APC Constitution (October 2014, as Amended), stipulates how primaries for nomination of candidates for election from the local government chairmen to those vying for the position of president should be conducted.
Article 20 (iii) reads, “Nomination of candidates for governor shall be through direct or indirect primary election to be conducted at the appropriate level.
“(iv) a. Further to Article 20 (iii) of this constitution, indirect primaries for the purpose of nominating a candidate shall be done at a designated venue for that purpose, by an electoral college of delegates democratically elected by members of party from the various wards contained in the particular constituency at congresses.”
Stakeholders reject indirect primaries in Kaduna
Some stakeholders in Kaduna on Tuesday reacted negatively to the NWC announcement.
The stakeholders under the aegis of Kaduna State Aspirants and Stakeholders Forum described the adoption of the indirect primary for the state as a sham.
The state chapter of the APC, led by Air Commodore Emmanuel Jekada (retd), said to be loyalists of the Kaduna State Governor; Nasir El-Rufai, had adopted indirect primary.
Jekada had said the direct primary was not applicable to Kaduna because of the absence of a comprehensive register of party members, which could lead to chaos.
However, the stakeholders’ forum at a press conference in Kaduna on Tuesday faulted the APC chairman.
Spokesman for the aspirants and stakeholders, Alhaji Hassan Sandi, an aspirant for the House of Representatives seat, said the indirect mode was designed to ease vote buying.
Sandi said, “We remain resolutely committed to direct primaries as the most efficacious mode of determining our best candidates for the governorship and legislative positions in Kaduna State.
“We are convinced that adopting direct primaries will not only diminish the corruptive influence of vote-buying, it will give party members a voice and promote the growth of a strong, virile and people-rooted APC.”
Ogun aspirants hail APC NWC
Two governorship aspirants in Ogun State, Senator Adegbenga Kaka and Dapo Abiodun, hailed the decision of the NWC.
Kaka said it was what the NWC earlier prescribed, and what the stakeholders agreed upon in the meeting of September 5, 2018.
Kaka said, “It is in consonance with the communiqué issued at the end of the party’s stakeholders meeting held on September 5, 2018, in Abeokuta, the state capital. Whether they like it or not, the decision of NWC supersedes that of the state executive committee.
“Since the proponents of consensus openly admitted its failure, they should also admit the failure of indirect primaries by embracing direct primaries as directed by the NWC.”
Abiodun, who spoke through one of his media aides, Olamide Lawal, said, “It is a good development that the NWC did not dance to the tune of the state executive committee. The NWC has refused to be intimidated.”
When contacted, the state Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Wole Elegbede, said, “I will get back to you, I need to consult with the party hierarchy.”
It is a welcome development – Imo APC
The Imo State chapter of the APC said that it was at home with the direct primaries.
The party state Publicity Secretary, Jones Onwuasoanya, said APC in the state was expecting no fewer than 1,000,000 party members to vote.
He said the method would allow members of the party the opportunity of choosing the people who would represent it during the general elections.
Onwuasoanya said, “We are confident that this (direct primaries) will afford Imolites and the world the opportunity to appreciate how popular our great party is in the state as we are expecting more than 1,000,000 registered party members to participate in the process across the state.”
“This landmark decision is a good step towards resolving all claims of popularity by some aspirants and we urge them to intensify efforts at mobilising party members to vote for them.”
Rivers APC, Abe disagree on decision
But the governorship aspirant on the platform of the APC in Rivers State, Senator Magnus Abe, said the decision of the NWC to adopt indirect primaries for Rivers State should not override the earlier decision of the party’s National Executive Committee.
Abe stated that the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, had during the party’s last NEC meeting, listed Rivers State as one of the states where direct primaries would be held.
Abe said NEC had earlier decided to adopt direct primaries in Rivers State because of the many legal issues facing the party in the state.
“But the decision of the NWC to hold indirect primaries in Rivers State goes against the grain of reason.
“First, because direct primaries were ordered in other states, including Imo State that has similar issues we have in Rivers State. Also, the National Chairman of the party at the last NEC meeting of the party had himself listed Rivers State as one of the states where direct primaries would be held because of many legal issues that we are facing.”
But the Rivers State Chapter of APC described the approval of indirect primary option for the state by the NWC as a welcome development.
A statement by the State Publicity Secretary of the APC, Chris Finebone, read in part, “This decision is in line with the resolution of the expanded State Executive Committee taken at its meeting of Thursday, September 6, 2018, as directed by the NEC of our party.
“In the said meeting, the direct, indirect and consensus options were critically examined and the majority of members overwhelmingly voted to adopt the indirect mode of primaries.
“Therefore, it is satisfying that all the reasons given for adopting the indirect mode of primaries were found to be convincing, hence the acceptance of the option for Rivers State by the NWC.” (Punch)