State chairmen of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday dared the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) over the decision to adopt direct primaries for all elective positions.
Daily Trust reports that a day after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, a spokesman of the APC said agreement was reached on direct primaries to select its candidates for the presidential, gubernatorial, national and state assemblies in 2019 elections, a decision which did not go down well with most APC governors.
Direct primaries will allow all card carrying members of the APC to vote, rather than only delegates which is the position favoured by most governors.
The state chairmen held a meeting yesterday at the Barcelona Hotel, in Abuja, where strategies to challenge the decision to hold direct primaries for all positions, rather than that of the president alone.
Sources privy to the meeting told the Daily Trust, last night, that the APC state chairmen met at the instance of nearly all the governors elected on the platform of the party who are unanimous on using indirect primaries.
All the incumbent state chairmen of the party in APC controlled states were the products of the last congress held across the country, a development that edged out some chieftains of the party including members of the National Assembly, who believe direct primaries will provide them with a leeway to retain their seats or vie for other offices with ease.
The meeting of the APC chairmen was held despite an earlier warning issued by APC’s acting National Publicity Secretary, Mr Yekini Nabena, describing it as illegal.
Journalists were barred from covering the event as they were told to leave the meeting room after an open disagreement among the party chairmen on whether to address journalists on the outcome of the meeting or not.
The meeting was earlier scheduled to hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel but silently shifted to Barcelona.
However, one of the state party chairmen, who agreed to speak on condition of anonymity, said they resolved to use all possible means to resist direct primaries, adding that those who couldn’t attend the meeting had sent their representatives.
“We are talking and our resolutions will be made known to public very soon. But it won’t be today (Sunday) because we are still consulting and meeting,” the source said.
Our reporter observed that some national officers of the party attended the meeting after the party leadership had said that it was monitoring some members planning to hold “illegal meeting” over mode of election after it had endorsed direct primaries across board.
The party chairmen sighted yesterday at the meeting included those of Borno, Hon. Ali Bukar Dalori; Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Hon. Abdulmalik Usman; Benue, Comrade Abba Yari Kaduna, and Ebonyi states, Pastor Eze Nwachukwu Eze among others. A few ex-officios were also sighted at the venue.
Those who were present looked uncomfortable after the meeting as they left the venue one after the other apparently to avoid journalists.
The APC had earlier yesterday said it will not be intimidated by “the antics of a few planning to hold an illegal meeting” on its approved mode of elections for primaries.
Nabena said in the statement that meeting (by the APC state chairmen) was meant to fault the decisions taken by the NWC and the National Executive Committee (NEC) regarding the mode of primary elections.
Our correspondents report that the APC leadership is sharply divided, with some officials in tune with the position of the National Chairman of the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, who pushed for the adoption of direct primaries for all elective positions.
On the other hand, some NWC members, it was gathered, had aligned with some APC governors who wanted to use the indirect primary option for various offices with the exception of the presidency.
And with all the delegates in their kitty following the last ward, local government and state congresses, the governors would decide the fate of all contestants for state and national assemblies, including successors for second term governors while those completing their first term would have ticket to recontest with ease.
“The illegal meeting fixed for 2pm was an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition the party ahead of the 2019 general elections in order to ensure unity, equity and justice,” the APC said.
While admonishing members to disregard such meetings in the interest of the party, the NWC said the outcome of the meeting would be a nullity.
“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.
“We urge any member who is not satisfied with the decisions of the party to utilize 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 successes for our party,” the statement said.
The APC NWC had announced that direct primaries that would involve all card-carrying members of the party would be used to conduct elections to produce its presidential, senatorial, House of Representatives, governorship and State Houses of Assembly candidates for the 2019 general polls.
However, the development has not gone down well with some of the party’s governors who preferred indirect primaries that would give them control over delegates that will elect candidates.