Backed by Governors, APC State Chairmen Move against Direct Primary

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  • Party avoids showdown, calls for truce

By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

The looming crisis of confidence within the All Progressives Congress (APC) over the mode of election primaries to be adopted in electing its candidates for the 2019 general election, has taken a new dimension, as some aggrieved state chairmen yesterday ignored threat of sanction by the Mr. Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, and met on the way forward.

Said to be acting on the directives of their state governors, the state chairmen met in Abuja yesterday and took far-reaching decisions on the vexed issues.

However, THISDAY gathered last night that in a swift move to appease the APC governors and the state chairmen, Oshiomhole-led NWC of the party, had been forced to revert to the earlier party’s position, that only the presidential candidate of the party would be elected through a direct primary, while other states could use either direct or indirect primaries in electing candidates for various elective positions.

The latest position of the party was contained in a letter said to have been written to the Forum of APC State Chairmen of the party, yesterday by the National Secretary of the party, Alhaji Mala Buni.

In the letter, APC appealed to the chairmen and other aggrieved stakeholders to sheathe their sword as the matter would be resolved amicably.

A party said Oshiomhole had also fixed a meeting with the state chairmen in order to sort out issues.

The party’s national secretariat had earlier yesterday raised the alarm over the meeting, which it said was an attempt to alter the party’s decision on mode of election primaries.

In a statement issued early yesterday, by the party’s Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabene, APC cautioned the members against going ahead with what it described as ‘’illegal meeting’’ or be ready to face sanction.

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

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

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

It was also learnt that the NWC of APC immediately reached out to the Borno State chairman, who was chairing the meeting of APC 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 with THISDAY last night 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 might have caved in to pressure by the state chairmen and reversed its insistence on the use of only direct primaries mode to elect candidates for the 2019 elections.

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

THISDAY also saw one of APC’s 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 the ‘’highhandedness’’ of the party leadership — in imposing direct primaries on the members.

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

The source added, “The state chairmen will do everything possible to resist the imposition of direct primaries on the party, including passing a vote of no confidence on Oshiomhole and his NWC members.”

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

THISDAY gathered that some governors and other stakeholders were not comfortable with the decision of the party to make direct mode  of primaries 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 reads: “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, would be a nullity, adding that members should disregard such meetings in the interest of the party.

It also said that 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 statement further stated.

“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 utillise channels provided by the party’s constitution to air their views.’’

APC said it remains focused in delivering good governance to Nigerians and above all ensuring the victory for the party come 2019 and would not be intimidated by the antics of a few in ensuring success for the party.