Femi Ogbonnikan in Abeokuta
The Chief Executive Officer of Heyden Petroleum Limited, Prince Dapo Abiodun and former Ogun State Deputy Governor, Gbenga Kaka, among others, at the weekend rejected the decision of the All Progressives Congress (APC) to approved indirect method for selecting of candidates for the 2019 election.
While Abiodun described the approval of the indirect method as corruption-driven and self-serving by its promoters, Kaka blamed the APC State Executive Committees for the muddle-up of the updated membership register in an attempt to impose their stooges as executive members in all the wards across the state.
They condemned the adoption of the indirect primary method at separate for at the weekend, lamenting that the APC leadership upturned its earlier decision to use direct primary method without recourse to the party’s critical stakeholders nationwide.
The party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) had at its last meeting approved direct primary for nomination for the party’s tickets. However, the APC national secretariat directed states that wanted to use indirect primary to apply for approval from the NWC.
The governors had risen up in arms against this condition, pitting them against federal lawmakers who preferred direct method, which they felt would clip the wings of the states’ chief executives. At Wednesday’s meeting of the governors with the NWC, the case for indirect primary was strongly made again and the governors had their way.
In a statement by the Dapo Abiodun Campaign Organisation on Friday, the aspirant condemned berated the sudden departure from the already approved direct primaries by the state leadership of the party for choosing candidates into various elective offices.
He said it was laughable for Ogun APC “to have taken such a hasty decision, without the consent of the generality of the critical stakeholders across the three senatorial districts at a wee hour of the day to alter the unanimous adoption of the direct primaries to now come up with the indirect primaries in order to suit their selfish interests.
“Going back to other states of the federation, I wonder why there is an agitation or fear among some governors for the adoption of the direct primaries. In some parts of the federation, it is understandable that the direct method may be difficult to apply. In some northern states, there may be problems due to security challenges.
“In other parts where there is relative peace and calm, I do not see any reason governors, particularly those in offices for almost eight years and have made electoral promises to the people, should oppose the direct method for the primary election. I do not understand why they are jittery about the direct primary elections.
“If a governor is worried about direct primaries, how will he lead his party to win general election in such a state? If at intra-party level, he is worried that he should have control, this calls for concern. This should not be about control, but about inclusiveness. The governor himself was voted into the office by the people.
“It is the party members that woo others to vote for him at the general elections. The direct method eliminates the ability of the sitting governor to manipulate primary election results. It reduces the culture of vote buying vote, coercing or intimidating and inducing party members. Ultimately, it places premium on the peoples’ votes.”
Besides, it is only the card-carrying members of a party would be allowed to participate and it makes it difficult getting involved in corruption. Also, it would be a true reflection of the peoples’ choices”, the statement read.
In an interview with THISDAY, Kaka noted that he would stand by the unanimous decision of the critical stakeholders in the state where direct primaries was publicly adopted as the model for choosing candidates for various elective offices.
He said: “As far as we are concerned, the generality of critical stakeholders took a decision publicly and stated that where the consensus arrangement is not possible, we should adopt direct primary method, which is open and it encourages inclusiveness. It allows all the party members to own the party as stakeholders.
He noted that there should no excuses that the time-table “is muddled up. The state executives of the party are the ones to blame, because in a bid to impose their own men as members of the executives for reasons best known to them, they made the membership register look that way.
“The blame is not the responsibility of the national body but the state executives. They are the same set of people that scared away people to register as members of the party during the congresses. They should be held responsible because they resorted to denying our members from registering in order to manipulate the congresses in their favour.
“We stand by the decision of the national body in adopting direct primaries. We were away in Abuja for the screening exercise. Few people gathered in Abeokuta in the name of stakeholders holding a meeting and attempting to upturn the decision that was unanimously endorsed by all the critical stakeholders for the adoption of direct primaries.
“Direct primary method stays as far as the decision of the National Working Committee (NWC) is concerned. If they want to change from the direct to indirect method in Ogun State, they should go back to national body for proper clarifications,” Kaka said.