Because of the importance of the issue at hand, let me start, by way of introduction by saying i am from Yobe state - a state that is almost 100% APC and on the side of progressive politics since 1999 when the nation restored democratic rule. Our people cherish politics of development and freedom - the kind of politics that respects the wish of the people.
On Wednesday 29, a meeting of the national working committee of APC agreed that the party should go for direct elections. All party members across the nation and particularly Yobe state cheered this position and confidence of the people in the future of the party was restored. That NWC adopted direct party primary elections shows that it is the people that are at the centre of the party’s top leadership. Many states like Lagos, keen on towing the path of transparency adopted direct primary elections. It is the only way that will ensure party harmony and making sure that no one imposed candidates on the people.
But this hope was dashed on Thursday 30 when the National Executive Committee NEC meeting ended with a resolution that party primaries for Presidential aspirants will be direct, while primary elections for all other positions will be indirect. This means it is delegates that will select candidates for all other positions. This position is a great setback for the hope that APC can set a good example of internal democracy and fairness for all members. Reports have been indicating that it was governors that are vehemently opposed to direct party primaries. They fear their candidates - or is it the candidates they want to impose on the people cannot win primary elections if it is directly conducted. They fear transparency. At last, they had their way, and in return, APC as a party lost its way. Why are governors afraid of direct primary elections? What are they afraid of? If at all governors believe in the people that elected them why would they want a situation whereby delegates they handpicked are the ones to choose candidates on behalf of the people?
APC had lost an opportunity to take the path of honour, the path of democracy and respect for the wish of the people. All the conflicts that destroyed PDP have roots in the overbearing power of governors, whose will always prevailed in every party matter. Now here we are with APC threading that path to infamy; a situation whereby governors wielding people’s power and resources will impose their interest on the people through instruments of the party - by hook or crook.
Yobe state is a good example of the dangers of things coming. Long before now, there were moves by some elements to sway the party to conduct indirect primaries in Yobe, using the flimsy excuse that ‘insurgency’ will not allow direct primary elections. This flawed line of argument had no any relation with reality. It was only a ploy to shortchange the people. It all shows the intent of some few people to manipulate delegates in imposing their candidates on the people.
One may ask: why are governors leaning to ‘delegates’ based primary elections, especially in Yobe state? The reason is; all the delegates were ‘handpicked’ and were family and friend; carefully chosen for that purpose of shortchanging the people. In Yobe state the delegates are known to have been picked by parties planning to impose their candidates on the whole state. Even party congresses at the state and local government level was based on affirmation instead of proper competitive election that will allow people to exercise their rights. In Yobe state party leadership was selected, not elected; this was done with the aim of achieving some motives of manipulating primary elections. Infact, right now there is an ongoing court case relating to this. The case in court on party congresses indicates that Yobe is one of the states in which DIRECT primary elections is applicable and inevitable. The party had agreed that direct primary elections will hold in states where there are disputes relating to congresses. While the court is yet to decide the case in Yobe state the obvious path is direct primary elections. But even without the court case direct party primary is all that APC Yobe state deserved.
Laying the ground for making these manipulations easy involved creating a climate of fear across the state. This involves undermining party members who showed aspiration, particularly for governorship. Hon. Sidi Karasuwa - a founding member of the party and his supporters were being subjected to so many kinds of witch-hunt; ranging from indirect insults at public gatherings and intimidation of anyone close to him politically. The political scene in Yobe state has been turned into a scene of tribal and sectional games of intimidation through instilling fear.
Now that party primaries are going to be indirect, the fate of APC in Yobe state is going to be quite uncertain. First, people will revolt against imposition of candidates based on widely known tribal agenda. The responsibility now lays with the party leadership at the national level and particularly President Muhammadu Buhari to rescue the people of Yobe state from the greed of politicians whose major motivation is advancing some tribal agenda that is motivated by greed.
*Ahmed Bulama Gulani, Low Cost, Biu Road, Buni Yadi, Yobe State. [email protected]