Tinubu, APC Govs on Collision Course over Primaries

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  • Finally, Uduaghan joins ruling party

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The stage appears set for a major confrontation between key power brokers in the All Progressives Congress (APC) on the mode of primaries to adopt for the selection of its candidates for the 2019 general election.

Party top shots are divided on whether to adopt the direct or indirect primary system in the exercise scheduled for next month.

Both side, THISDAY gathered, have perfected plans on how to prevail at a series of decision-making meetings that started last night with the national caucus hosted by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Ahead of tomorrow’s meeting of the National Executive Committee (NEC), THISDAY gathered that governors elected on the APC platform and the party’s National Leader, Senator Bola Tinubu were pitted against each other with the later insisting on his preference for direct primary.

The state governors were said to be pushing for the adoption of indirect method and had already made their position known to the party.

It was learnt that while the Buhari has not uttered any word on which of the sides to support, Tuesday’s meeting of the national caucus provided the opportunity for him to weigh the two options and to try to pull the opposing sides together in other to avoid crisis.

Prior to the caucus meeting at the Villa, the former Lagos State governor and the governors were engaged in strong lobby to ensure that they have their way.

For most of the governors, the idea of using direct primary is not an easy pill to swallow as they are afraid of what it portends.

The governors were said to be suspicious of the intentions of those pushing the direct primary method over what used to be the practice.

On the hand, those who support Tinubu were saying that the direct primary would help give the average party member a sense of belonging and also to force some unpopular state chief executives to begin to reckon with people’s power at the grassroots.

The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, who is a known Tinubu ally was spotted at the party’s national secretariat in Abuja yesterday evening where he visited the National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole.

Meanwhile the National Working Committee (NWC) of the APC met yesterday to fine-tune the agenda for the NEC meeting.

Among the issues likely to dominate the agenda are the method of primary to adopt, dates and fixtures as well as cost of nomination forms for elective offices in the 2019 elections.

Finally Uduaghan Joins APC

Meanwhile, former governor of Delta State, Emmanuel Uduaghan, embattled former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Ali Modu-Sheriff, and Senator Godswill Akpabio were among the first callers at the APC caucus meeting, which held in Presidential Villa last night.

Last night caucus’ meeting was the first to be presided over by President Buhari after the defections of several prominent members of the party to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in recent times.

The appearance of Uduaghan who has not formerly defected to APC at the meeting was accompanied by excitement from other members of the caucus.

There was no opening session of the meeting as it dissolved into a closed-door forum immediately after the opening prayer.

In attendance at the meeting were the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomhole, former Lagos State governor, Tinubu, former interim National Chairman of the party, Chief Bisi Akande and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Boss Mustapha.

Also in attendance were governors of Borno, Jigawa, Niger, Plateau, Kogi, Adamawa, Ondo, Kano, Ogun, Oyo, Katsina, Osun, Yobe, Nasarawa, Kebbi, Imo and Lagos States.

Also present were former Deputy National Chairman of APC, Segun Oni, House of Representatives’ Majority Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila, former Ebonyi State governor, Martin Elechi, former Lagos State military governor, Buba Marwa, Lawrence Onoja, Jim Nwobodo, Kabiru Gaya, former APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, and former Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime.

Others were former Edo State governor, Osarheimen Osunbor, former Senate President, Ken Nnamani, Deputy National Chairman of the party, Niyi Adebayo, former Bayelsa governor, Timipre Sylva, Don Etiebet and serving ministers and senators.

Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shuaibu, Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters, Ita Enang and former governor of Anambra State, Chinwoke Mbadinuju, among others.