Five governors have been fingered in a plot to upturn President Muhammadu Buhari’s advice to the All Progressives Congress (APC) to adopt direct primary in picking candidates for the 2019 elections.
The President is said to be strongly in support of direct primary at last week’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting based on field reports from Osun and Bauchi states.
The five governors, it was learnt, took advantage of the President’s trip to China the day after the meeting, to reject his advice.
But APC senators and members of the House of Representatives are insisting on direct primaries – apparently to checkmate the governors.
APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and members of the National Working Committee (NWC) were last night locked in a meeting on the mode of primary, which has generated heat in the party.
A source who spoke in confidence with our correspondent said: “At the NEC meeting last Thursday, the President was vehement on direct primary and he took time to explain the advantages of the direct mode to our leaders. He recommended direct primary across board.
“The President was supported by Oshiomhole and some of our leaders. Most of the governors did not speak up on their preference for indirect primary.
“Unfortunately, some of these governors were only waiting for the President to leave for China before causing the crisis in the party.
“The five arrowheads of the protest over the mode of primary are two governors from Northcentral, one from Northeast, one from the South and another from the Northwest.
“They are mostly governors seeking second term tickets, but who do not want direct primary because APC members in their states will vote against them.
“They also mobilized their colleagues to support indirect primary to choose their stooges for Senate, House of Representatives and House of Assembly.
“They took advantage of the President’s trip. And about two of them, who are on the trip with Buhari have been pulling the strings to overrule him.”
To a member of the NWC, “what some of the governors and state chairmen have done is disrespectful of the President whose advice ought to count”.
The governors, according to him, are blaming one of the leaders of the party as the brain behind direct primary.
“The party allows direct, indirect and consensus. But to ensure that most APC members have a say on who represents them, we opted for direct primary. Indirect primary are fraught with vote buying. It is a cash and carry system,” the member, who pleaded not to be named, said.
Many APC senators and members of the House of Representatives have also vowed to resist the plot by the governors to impose indirect primary on them.
A ranking member of the House said: “These governors are backing indirect primary to enable them handpick those who will go to the National and State Assemblies.
“Some of these governors, who are also completing second term in office, do not want direct primary because they will be defeated.
“Some governors have grudges against their senators and House members and they believe it is time to take their pound of flesh.”
A Senator said: “With the decision of the governors to support indirect primary, they are laying landmines for Buhari because if some of these senators and Representatives lose out to the governors, they might pitch their tents with the Peoples Democratic Party(PDP) when plenary resumes on September 25.
“The aftereffects of indirect primary might leave the President vulnerable. This is why we are going to make a representation to the President and APC leadership to allow direct primaries.
“Most APC Senators and Representatives are for direct primaries. We will resist the governors too.
“The party may still stand by direct primaries at all levels but with tough conditions under which a state chapter might opt for indirect primaries.
“To adopt indirect primaries in any state, all aspirants and critical stakeholders must agree with it in writing.”