By Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja
The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, has caved in to governors’ pressure against direct primaries in choosing candidates for 2019 elections.
At a meeting held Wednesday night at the Imo Governor’s Lodge, Asokoro in Abuja, the party said that state chapters can now adopt indirect mode of primary if majority of the party executives endorses it.
Unlike the earlier stance of the party that all primaries should be by direct mode, the ruling party after a four-meeting between the national chairman and the governors elected on its platform, resolved that states were free to use either direct or indirect method to elect candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Addressing journalists after the meeting, the Governor of Imo State and Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha, said that the party had decided to adopt both direct and indirect primary as long as the process is free, transparent and will give equal chance to all participants.
He also said that majority of the states were going for indirect primaries.
“We just held a meeting with the chairman and we’ve resolved that, in support of the party, we are going to have free and fair primaries. Everybody will be given equal chance to participate in the primaries which will be transparent, free and fair.
“And we have adopted both direct and indirect and most of the states are going for indirect primaries, but for the president it is going to be direct primaries,” he said.
Okorocha assured Nigerians that APC was ready for a free and transparent primaries, adding that the party is also ready to clinch victory at the main election in 2019.
“APC shall have the victory. We are calling on all our supporters to support the party. The 22 governors and the National Working Committee are working together and we have resolved to make sure that we get victory for the party come 2019,” he said.
Speaking on the controversy and disagreement the issue of indirect primaries has generated, Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, said that what the party was after was the position of the majority of members of the state party executive.
According to the governor, “There is no way one hundred percent of the party will agree to one thing. There will always be some that will disagree but the decision of NEC is that the majority of the state Executive Committee decides on the mode of primaries,” he said.
With regard to Kaduna State, the governor said the majority of the state executive committee had decided to adopt indirect primaries.
On his part, Oshiomhole who emerged from the meeting beaming with smiles, said that the major task before the party was to ensure free and transparent primaries.
He described the decision to settle for direct and indirect method of primaries as proper and in line with the party’s constitution.
“It is not a new decision that our constitution consciously provided for flexibility, first to reflect the diversity of our great country and also to try to give expression to the entire essence of federalism,” he said.
He assured that the NWC will see that the process was democratic, the rules fair and officiating impartial. Oshiomhole also spoke on the brewing tension in the Lagos state APC over moves to deny Governor Akinwumi Ambode opportunity of a second term.
The APC national chairman said that as far as the party was concerned, there was no rancour in Lagos APC, adding the allusion to the Lagos governor being embattled was false and unfounded.
He said: “There is no APC governor that is embattled and because we are democratic, the best way to measure democracy is the presence of more than one person showing interest in an office.
“That does not make any other person embattled. But of course the media can create this impression that there is an earthquake in Lagos, there is no earthquake,” he said.