*As party allows indirect election
*I submitted to party dictates, says Oshiomhole
By Ezeocha Nzeh
The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) has bowed to the demand of the party’s governors for the adoption of indirect primaries in the selection of candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Prior to the latest decision, the APC National Working Committee (NWC) and the National Executive Committee (NEC) had insisted on the use of direct primaries to pick the party’s candidates for the general election in February next year.
While the NWC and the NEC had opted for direct primary to elect their candidates at all levels, the governors had insisted on indirect, which will make use of only delegates as against the entire card-carrying members of the APC.
About 33 state governors had rejected the NEC position, even as there were opposition to their position in their various states.
The issue was, however, settled at the combined meeting of the APC governors and Oshiomhole on Thursday at the Imo Governors’ Lodge, Abuja.
The Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, Rochas Okorocha of Imo State, told journalists after the meeting that the governors had agreed with the party leadership to ensure a free, fair and credible primary, stressing that the states had also decided to adopt any mode of primary that suits them.
He said: “We just held a meeting with the chairman and we’ve resolved that in support of the party that 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. So, we have all resolved and to assure Nigerians that we are ready for the primaries and we are ready for the main election as decided by NEC and we are sure that come 2019, APC shall have the victory.
“We are calling on all our supporters to stay with the party. The 22 governors and the NWC are working together and we have resolved to make sure that we get victory for the party in 2019
On some stakeholders’ fears that the governors may hijack indirect primaries, Okorocha said that “like the NEC made it clear that the parties will decide at every state level what each wants, either direct or indirect primaries. Normally, you would know that our party is a peaceful one. If you are looking at other parties, you would know there is no party at all. So, these minor complaints here and there are expected because even in a family you have it.
“The NEC has declared that we are going to have direct and indirect primaries and the party at the state level will decide what type of primaries to adopt,” he said.
On the position of some stakeholders, especially Senators and other National Assembly from Adamawa, Kaduna, Bauchi and Zamfara States, Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, said: “There is no way 100 per cent of the party members 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 (SEC) decides on the mode of primaries.
“And the Kaduna State which you mentioned and which I’m the governor by the grace of God, the majority of SEC decided on indirect primaries. If one or two members don’t agree, that is not the decision of NEC.
Speaking also on the outcome of the meeting, APC National chairman, Adams Oshiomhole said: “I think my task and that of the party is clear. We have a tradition as a progressive party to submit ourselves to the dictates of our party and we believe in internal democracy because we are democrats and democracy must begin from within the house before we can do it outside.
“We are committed to transparent primaries; we are happy at the level of enthusiasm measured by the number of persons who have applied for various positions from House of Assembly up shows a huge number of Nigerians still prefer the APC as the more credible platform on which to contest.
“Our task is very simple, obey the rules of the party, obey the rules of fairness, obey the rules of natural justice and that is what we mean when we talk about free and fair primaries. It is not a new decision that our constitution consciously provided for flexibility, first to reflect the diversity of federalism which allows different states to look at their own situation and advice the NWC as to what works better for them provided that in all cases the process is democratic, the rules are fair, the officiating officials are impartial,” Oshiomhole said.