A major division has emerged in the ruling All Progressives Party (APC) over the mode of conducting primaries to pick the party’s candidates for the 2019 general elections.
Sources in the party told Daily Trust yesterday that majority of the party’s governors rejected the idea of adopting a direct primaries approach favoured by APC National Leader Bola Tinubu and National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole.
The party’s National Executive Committee is meeting today to take a final decision on the method and timetable of the primaries.
Tinubu and Oshiomhole are said to have convinced President Muhammadu Buhari on the efficacy of a direct primaries approach, but most of the governors and some leading figures in the party have rejected it.
One of the governors told Daily Trust that the governors “prefer indirect primaries” due to security challenges in some parts of the country, and for cost effectiveness and orderliness.
He said an earlier suggestion that members of the National Working Committee (NWC) had, at Tuesday’s Caucus meeting, agreed for direct primaries was wrong.
“It is not correct to say that the National Working Committee of the party has decided to hold direct primaries for all elective posts,” the governor said.
“Our party’s constitution allows direct or indirect primaries as well as selecting candidates by consensus. NWC asked state chapters for input before a final decision is made.
“All the 14 APC governors in the North indicated that they would prefer indirect primaries. They gave two reasons. One is the cost, because we believe it would be as costly as the general election. Two is the security situation.
“Most of our states have one form of insecurity or another and trying to hold direct primaries involving all party members will be an invitation to chaos. Besides, our opponents will try to infiltrate our primaries and cause confusion.
“Apart from the governors, APC leaders in non-APC controlled Northern states namely Chief Akume in Benue, Senator Mohammed Danjuma Goje in Gombe and Information Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed of Kwara also indicated a preference for indirect primaries.
“Besides, the governors of Ondo, Oyo and Ekiti have indicated support for indirect primaries while the Governor of Ogun said he does not mind whether the primaries are direct or indirect,” he said.
The governor further said: “Asiwaju Bola Tinubu is the prime mover of the idea of direct primaries. President Buhari also supports it, at least with respect to presidential primaries.
“I don’t think it matters much to the president what type of primaries are held because he is so far the only candidate, except perhaps for the propaganda value of saying so many millions of people voted for him.
“But for the other elections the choice is very important because it could make the difference between peaceful primaries and chaos,” the governor added.
Similarly, a member of the party’s National Working Committee, who does not want to be named, said only the National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, out of the 21-member committee, called for direct primaries when they met ahead of the caucus.
“Other members opposed direct primaries saying it will be problematic as all members down to the ward level would participate. They argued that the last registration of members was done about five years ago,” he said.
“Some members have died, others have left the party, new ones have joined and the register has not been updated to reflect all these changes,” he added.
Daily Trust learnt yesterday that even if NEC adopts direct primaries, the North-east zone might be exempted because of security challenges.