By Olusola Alatise
Ahead of the primaries of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the governors and state chairmen elected under the party’s platform have expressed their opposition to direct primaries – the party’s antidote against imposition of candidates. They prefer indirect primaries.
Key stakeholders in the party, including some leaders and members of the National Assembly, have opted for direct primary because, in their view, it will give members a say on the choice of their representatives.
There were fears that the desire for indirect primaries by the governors was designed to give them “total” control and to determine those who will be candidates for various elective posts.
In an August 17 letter to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the APC only indicated that it might adopt indirect or direct system for the presidential primary on September 19.
The governors and the state chairmen are said to have communicated their preference for indirect primary to National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
The chairman and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) have however left the final decision to the National Executive Committee (NEC), which will meet on Thursday in Abuja.
A source in the party, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is a fresh challenge in the party because the governors are opposed to direct primaries. Some of them seeking second term in office want indirect primaries to make it easier to get the ticket.
“A few others completing second term prefer indirect primaries to be able to impose their favourites as candidates for various elective offices.
“The governors, who have influenced state chairmen of the party, are claiming that the time is too short for direct primaries. They are also nursing fears that direct primaries could lead to crises, including violent primaries.”
It was however learnt that many senators, members of the House of Representatives and Houses of Assembly and governorship aspirants are worried that the governors have been scheming for indirect primaries “to hijack the process.”
A senator said: “The governors are out to seize the process and give tickets to their cronies. To get quality candidates for 2019 polls, we have to check these governors who want to determine those to be APC flag bearers.
“Most leaders of the party have opted for direct primaries in view of the huge success the model recorded in Osun State.
“Popular candidates were not given the opportunity to emerge in the past because the indirect primaries were turned to merchandise.
“Like the leadership of the party said, it will ensure participation of all registered members. It will be a departure of what obtained in the past, which was monetised.
“We will resist any plot by the governors to insist on indirect primaries. We learnt that they have forced the state chairmen to adopt indirect primaries.”
APC Acting National Publicity Secretary Yekini Nabena said: “All these issues will be tabled at the NEC meeting. Why not wait till after the meeting on Thursday?”
Oshiomhole on July 17 highlighted the benefits of direct primaries. He said: “We have decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in-line with the provision of our party constitution, which allows for either direct or indirect primary, we have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun State will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.
“What that means is that every card carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This, for us, is the most democratic way to conduct election and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country wants and we are quite happy to oblige.”
Oshiomhole said the direct option was to allow more party members to “participate in the process of nominating candidates and to remove issues of corruption or monetising the processes.”
He said direct primary would also “give party members a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise”.