APC govs reject N21 m peg for nomination fee, direct primaries
. Openly challenge Tinubu, Oshiomhole as Buhari accuses Saraki of plot to destroy party
*Dogara, Lasun absent at NEC meeting
Governors on Thursday used the National Executive Committee meeting of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to engage the National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, the National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and other party leaders on the adoption of direct primaries to pick candidates for elective positions in the 2019 general elections.
The governors also kicked against the party’s demand for each governorship aspirant to pay N21million for expression of interest and nomination forms.
While President Muhammadu Buhari, Vice President Yomi Osinbajo, Tinubu, and Oshiomhole allegedly favoured the use of direct primaries to elect all the party’s candidates, the governors and some NWC members rejected the process.
They described the move as not only a plot to prevent them from being re-elected, but a grand design by some APC leaders to take full control of the affairs of states outside theirs, by influencing the emergence of their cronies as the party’s candidate in such states.
A mild drama ensued when one of the governors from the North West zone flared up, questioning the presence of Tinubu at the meeting, since he was not a NEC member.
In another drama, a member of the NWC from the North East zone took to shouting when the issue of the process for the primary was raised.
He said: “We are not babies here, nobody can impose any process on us; they must adopt direct primary only in their home states and not to force us to embrace it”.
It was gathered that the NWC in defence of its decision to peg the expression of interest and nomination forms for governorship aspirants at N21million, was to ward-off all comers, as well as to make it a competitive race for committed members.
They also argued that the decision came after it was observed that several aspirants had indicated interest to run from the various states, adding that the fee would help reduce the contest to few determined party members, as against what had been experienced in some states.
Recall that the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) pegged such fees for governorship at N6 million, while the presidential aspirants were expected to pay N12 million.
It was however agreed at the NEC meeting that the price was outrageous and the NWC was advised to revisit the matter.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, the governors of Plateau and Kogi Sates, Simeon Lalong and Yahaya Bello respectively, explained that all the issues were hotly debated, adding that the NEC adopted resolutions that doused the tension.
“About three issues were discussed; first, the document about guidelines for the primary elections; the mode of the election, as well as the issue of defection which hit the party recently.
“The cost of nomination form was debated and we left it again to the NWC to take a second look at it, taking into consideration some of the views that were expressed, and to come up with an amount that would be reasonable.
“And any figure they come out with now would be accepted. We don’t need to come back to NEC to debate it.
“On defection, the party generally agreed that it has no serious effects on it. It has even strengthened the party more.
“On the mode of election, it was agreed that for the presidential contest, we adopted direct primary. But for other elections, there are other options, but the agreement was that we go for indirect primaries. But any state which wants to deviate from that has the right to do so.
“Such states must however write to the NWC and come up with such a request, forwarding resolutions from their State Executive Committee (SEC) for the direct process.
“The constitution of the party provides for either direct, indirect or consensus, but also a recommendation was adopted that all the states must adopt indirect primaries.
“But there could be circumstances were it may be difficult in some states, looking at their peculiarities. Such States would apply the resolutions of their SEC but must get to the NWC to approve the direct primary process,” Lalong said.
On automatic ticket, the Plateau State governor said: “We did not discuss it, but we discussed and agreed that loyal members should be rewarded.
“We are saying that some of our senators who have remained loyal and patriotic to the party, who were approached to be taken away, but remained with the party should be rewarded. But election is open to everybody to contest,” he said.
Similarly, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State said that, “in our party, we have reward system; we will always reward party members who were approached to be taken away in a deceitful manner. But they remained with their support for the President, the party and the cause of the country.
“Surely, they will be rewarded in one way or the other, but we don’t refer to it as automatic ticket because we practice internal democracy.”
The NEC also directed the NWC to come up with the sequence for the primary, taking into consideration some of the issues that were raised by stakeholders adding hat such must be in line with the provisions of the Electoral Act, just as it set up a committee to articulate a proper funding template for the party.
Also fuelling more speculations about their future and loyalty to the party, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara and the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, were absent at the NEC meeting.
In his remarks, President Muhammadu Buhari expressed appreciation on the efforts of the new leadership of the APC, under Oshiomhole, to ensure the party was not destroyed by the defectors, who he alleged, planned to turn it to an opposition party.
Buhari, stressed that any political party worth its salt must get its internal dynamics right, and tasked the NWC to ensure it conducts free and fair primary elections in all the states, adding that the APC must be a shining light for others to follow in internal democracy.
“Today, we are meeting to look at major decisions that will ensure an excellent performance at the polls next year.
“Starting with party primaries at various levels, I urge you all to ensure that decisions taken here are those that will be for the good of the party and meets the yearnings and expectations of our teeming members and supporters nationwide.
“Let me congratulate the current leadership of our party led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The team emerged at a turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of massive defections in such a way that could rock the very foundation of the party.
“Despite reconciliatory attempts to keep the house together, some members were hell bent on pulling down the roof. They left, threatening to go along with scores of people, thus upsetting the party.
“But due to the work of the new party leadership, the exit barely made a dent on our super structure as they could not muster the figure they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“APC remains in control and is increasing by the day with quality
people joining the party. Hope is rekindled in our heart that we will
give our country purposeful leadership and improve the quality of life
of the people.
“We will continue to secure the country, fight graft and reposition the economy in such a way that jobs can be provided for our youths and give them a future and hope.
“We will fulfil all the promises we made to Nigerians. We will continue to serve with heart and might to build a nation where peace and justice and prosperity shall reign,” he said.
Source: (The Authority Newspapers)