Some All Progressives Congress senators and aspirants have opposed the Wednesday decision of the party, which granted the request of the APC governors on the mode of primaries for choosing candidates for the 2019 elections.
The APC National Executive Committee, after its meeting last month, had announced the adoption of the direct method of primaries for choosing its candidates.
It said states that preferred the indirect method must get the approval of all stakeholders and write the national secretariat.
The letter is expected to be signed by a majority of members of the state executive committee.
But after his meeting with the governors on Wednesday night, the APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole, said state chapters of the party were free to choose any mode of primaries.
In separate interviews with Saturday PUNCH, some senators and aspirants opposed the power given to the governors by the party.
Some of them denied knowledge of the U-turn made by the Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee of the ruling party, which allowed states to adopt indirect mode of primaries to elect candidates for the 2019 general elections.
In his submission, Senator Kabiru Marafa, who said he was not aware of the leeway given to the APC governors to adopt indirect primary mode, said the decision would mark the beginning of the end of the ruling party.
Marafa, who had a few weeks ago told The PUNCH exclusively that he would participate in parallel direct primaries to be conducted by the faction of APC led by him in Zamfara State should Governor Abdulaziz Yari insist in the indirect mode, noted that Oshiomhole might have been under pressure to back down on direct primaries.
The senator said, “One, I am not aware of it. Two, I don’t want to believe that the party under Oshiomhole would concede to that because, like I have always said, he is a man of integrity. My little interaction with him shows that he is committed to building a stronger party. I don’t know how he is going to build a stronger party by shying away from the electorate. Anybody who is afraid of facing the electorate has no business in politics.
“Being a human being – that is Oshiomhole, and knowing what the governors are, and the combination of the National Working Committee as it is today, he can be overpowered because politics is a game of number. If the majority of the NWC are for something, he cannot dictate otherwise. But one thing I can assure you is that if that is what the party has now conceded, mark my words, it will be the beginning of the end.”
When asked if he meant the end of the APC, Marafa said, “I think (it is) for the party because, like I have said, the pronouncement by the party that the presidential primary would be by direct was a vote of no confidence in the congresses supervised by the governors. That means those congresses cannot stand legal scrutiny. Therefore, whatever you build on a faulty foundation cannot stand. Candidates will be fielded but their candidature will not see the light of the day.”
According to the lawmaker, courts will soon nullify congresses that produced the current state executives who have been billed to conduct the proposed indirect primaries.
Another senator, Shehu Sani, said, “You have to excuse me while we do consult first of all. We have to be formally informed and addressed before I will react to it.”
Shehu has been an ardent critic of indirect primary, insisting that it breeds corruption.
APC may lose Bauchi without direct primary- Gov aspirant
In a related development, a former Minister of State for Health Dr. Ali Pate, has said the APC can lose Bauchi State if it goes ahead with the indirect primary and presents an unpopular governorship candidate.
Pate, who is also aspiring for the APC ticket to contest the governorship election, said this in an interview with journalists in Abuja, on Friday.
He spoke after he was screened by the APC panel set up to screen governorship aspirants.
Pate said the preference of most aspirants for the direct primary was to eliminate corruption and provide a level playing field for all aspirants to truly test their popularity with the electorate starting with card carrying members of the party.
Pate said, “We have made our case, if the party wants to win Bauchi State, it should put forward a credible, popular candidate. At this point, we know that the mass of people in Bauchi State are worried that an imposition will not stand well in the general elections.
“So, we place our faith on the leadership of the party to do the right thing and allow fair process to play out otherwise we cannot guarantee the APC winning Bauchi State.”
Speaking about his experience during the screening exercise, the ex-minister said, “There is a structured process that we have been made to participate for the various offices we are seeking on the platform of the party. I have done mine and for Bauchi state, we have an agenda which is to bring development which has so far eluded our people.
“So, even though we have an incumbent governor, we know his term comes to an end in 2019 and we are sure to take over even as we also believe in the party to do the right thing and ensure that members and aspirants get the justice they deserve if the party wants to succeed in Bauchi.”
Oshiomhole, NWC recommended direct primary for Imo – Uzodinma
Meanwhile, Senator Hope Uzodinma (APC, Imo-West) stated that adopting direct mode for the primaries was the only way Imo State people would ensure victory for the APC in 2019.
Uzodima, in an interview with journalists in Abuja on Friday, said direct primaries in Imo would bring the various factions of the party in the state together.
He commended the National Chairman of the APC, Adams Oshiomole, and the National Working Committee of the party for the role they played in reconciling the various APC factions in the state.
Uzodimma said, “The national leadership of the party – the National Working Committee – met with the representatives of the various factions of the party in the state and the National Chairman, who we respect a lot, in his wisdom, was able to talk sense into all of us .
“Also, in view of the various litigations in court and to protect the interest of our candidates, he has approved the use of direct primaries for Imo State. The party in its wisdom has seen that, that is what will bring solution to the problem in Imo State.”
The lawmaker, who is a governorship aspirant in the state, urged all party members to yield to the party’s advice to adopt direct primaries in the spirit of sacrifice and reconciliation.
He said, that way, members of the party would be allowed to participate in the nomination processes of candidates. He stressed that direct primaries would allow for all inclusiveness, thereby making the general elections easier.
According to Uzodinma, direct primaries will allow those who participate in the nomination to own the process, ensure commitment and work for the APC candidates to emerge winners in the 2019 elections.
Uzodinma further said with the intervention of the national body, an agreement was reached to open up the party structure by giving the governor a chunk of the structure.