A major division has emerged in the ruling All Progressives Party, APC, over the mode of conducting primaries to pick the party’s candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Sources in the party revealed that majority of the party’s Governors have rejected the idea of adopting a direct primaries approach, favoured by APC National Leader, Bola Tinubu, and National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
The party’s National Executive Committee, NEC, is meeting today, Thursday, to take a final decision on the method and timetable for the primaries.
Tinubu and Oshiomhole are said to have convinced President Muhammadu Buhari, on the efficacy of a direct primaries approach, but most of the Governors and some leading figures in the party, have rejected it.
One of the Governors disclosed that the Governors “prefer an indirect primaries” approach, due to security challenges in some parts of the country, and for cost effectiveness and orderliness.
He said that an earlier suggestion that members of the National Working Committee, NWC, had at Tuesday’s Caucus meeting, agreed for direct primaries, was wrong.
“It is not correct to say that the National Working Committee of the party has decided to hold direct primaries for all elective posts”, the Governor said.
“Our party’s constitution allows direct or indirect primaries, as well as selecting candidates by consensus. NWC asked State chapters for input, before a final decision is made.
“All the 14 APC Governors in the North indicated that they would prefer indirect primaries. They gave two reasons. One is the cost, because we believe it would be as costly as the general elections. Two, is the security situation.
“Most of our States have one form of insecurity or another, and trying to hold direct primaries involving all party members, will be an invitation to chaos. Besides, our opponents will try to infiltrate our primaries and cause confusion.
“Apart from the Governors, APC Leaders in non-APC controlled Northern States, namely: Chief Akume in Benue, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje in Gombe, and Information Minister, Alhaji Lai Mohammed of Kwara, also indicated a preference for indirect primaries.
“Besides, the Governors of Ondo and Oyo have indicated support for indirect primaries, while the Governor of Ogun said he does not mind whether the primaries are direct or indirect”, he said.
The Governor further stated that: “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the prime mover of the idea of direct primaries. President Buhari also supports it, at least with respect to Presidential primaries.
“I do not think it matters much to the President, what type of primaries are held, because he is so far the only candidate, except perhaps for the propaganda value of saying so many millions of people voted for him.
“But for the other elections, the choice is very important, because it could make the difference between peaceful primaries and chaos”, the Governor added.
Similarly, a member of the party’s National Working Committee, who did not want to be named, maintained that only the National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, out of the 21-member Committee, called for direct primaries when they met ahead of the Caucus meeting.
“Other members opposed direct primaries, saying it will be problematic, as all members down to the Ward level would participate.”
Meanwhile, the North-East Zonal Chapter of the APC, has cautioned against the adoption of direct primaries, because of the level of logistics and resources required to implement it.
The APC National Vice Chairman, North-East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, warned against its implementation for the conduct of Presidential, Senate, House of Representatives, Governorship, and State House of Assembly’s primaries, ahead of the 2019 general elections.
He noted that when the defunct Congress for Progressives Change, CPC, adopted direct primaries in 2011, it ended up with parallel candidates and court cases in States like Kastina, Kaduna, Kano, and Bauchi.
Salihu said that if to do direct primaries for Governorship, Senatorial, and House of Representatives or Member of the House of Assembly seats, are desired, “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.”
He dismissed the notion that a position had been taken on the mode of primaries at the Caucus meeting, and urged party members to wait for the outcome of today’s NEC meeting.