APC Crisis Deepens as State Chairmen Protest Direct Primaries

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*Party moves to avoid showdown

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The looming crisis of confidence in the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the mode of primary election to adopt for the 2019 elections has taken a new dimension as some aggrieved state chairmen at the weekend ignored threat of sanction by the party to meet on the way forward.

Possibly acting on the directives of their state governors, the state chairmen met in Abuja yesterday to allegedly plot against the party’s decision to adopt direct primaries for choosing candidates for 2019 general election.

The party national leadership had earlier raised the alarm over the meeting which it said is an attempt to alter the decision of party on mode of primary election.

A statement issued early yesterday morning by the acting National Publicity Secretary of the party, Yekini Nabene, cautioned the members against going ahead with what it described as illegal meeting or be ready to be sanctioned.

However, sensing that the leadership of party has noticed their plan, the aggrieved party state chairmen across the country quickly moved their meeting to another venue, Barcelona Hotel in Wuse II in Abuja.

Apart from state chairmen, two ex-officio members also attended yesterday’s meeting.

THISDAY, however, gathered that most of those that attended the meeting were APC state chairmen.

It was also learnt that the National Working Committee (NWC) of APC immediately reached out to the Borno State chairman, who chaired the meeting of the Forum of state chairmen, to clarify the position of the party on the issue of method of primaries.

One of the state chairmen, who spoke to THISDAY on condition of anonymity at the end of the meeting, said the party wrote a letter to them yesterday to clarify issues.

Although he did not state the content of the letter, THISDAY learnt that the party may have caved in to pressure, and reversed its insistence on the use of only direct primary mode of primary. 

When THISDAY asked one of the chairmen what the outcome of their meeting was, his brandished a letter written with APC’s letterhead, saying it was sent to them by the party.

THISDAY also saw one of APC National Vice Chairmen from the North emerging from the meeting.

Although he did not want to be quoted, he told journalists that the meeting was essentially to protest against the highhandedness of the party leadership in imposing direct primaries on the members.

An ex-officio member of APC who also attended the meeting said the state governors and even some national officers are not happy with the direct primary option, adding that as leaders of the party in the states, they will do everything to protect their interest.

According to him, “The state chairmen will do everything possible to resist the imposition of direct primaries on the party, including passing a vote of confidence on the National Chairman of the party, Adams Oshiomhole, and his NWC members.”

Signs that there were still unresolved issues on the mode of primaries for the APC came to the fore when the party issued a statement contradicting what two governors told journalists  on the outcome of the National Executive Committee meeting.

THISDAY gathered that some governors and other stakeholders were not comfortable with the decision of the party to make direct mode  of primary election almost compulsory, and had planned a meeting at the Transcorp Hilton Hotels yesterday afternoon.

The aim of the meeting, THISDAY learnt, was to raise issues against the adoption of direct primaries and also to seek ways of stopping the NWC led by Oshiomhole from enforcing it.

However, the leadership of APC got wind of the planned meeting and warned the conveners to  desist from such or “they will be dealt with in line with the party’s constitution at the appropriate time.” 

The APC’s statement read: “The attention of the NWC of the APC has been drawn to an illegal meeting scheduled to hold on Sunday at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja by some members of our party organs, with a view to fault the decisions made by the NWC followed by the National Executive Committee (NEC) as regards the mode of the party’s primary elections.

“We want to state clearly that the meeting which has been fixed for 2p.m. is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our party ahead the 2019 general election and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the party.”

The statement said the outcome of such meeting which is already known will be a nullity, adding that members should disregard such meetings in the interest of the party.

It also said it has identified those behind the meeting, and would have them sanctioned unless they retrace their steps.

“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 of our party.

‘We urge any member who is not satisfied with the decisions of the party to utilise channels provided by the party’s constitution to air their views,” it stated.