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The All Progressives Congress (APC) will adopt direct primaries in choosing its candidates for all of next year’s elections, contrary to earlier reports that it had opted for the indirect mode for elections other than the presidency.

Governor Simon Lalong of Plateau State, who briefed reporters at the end of Thursday’s sixth meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC), had said the meeting agreed to use direct primary only in picking the APC presidential candidate and indirect primary for other candidates—state/national assemblies and governorship.

Lalong was, however, contradicted yesterday by the party’s Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, who told reporters that the APC NEC actually resolved to use direct primary in all cases while also allowing states who prefer indirect primaries to convene a stakeholders meeting and agree on it.

He said: “The 30th August, 2018 resolution of the All Progressives Congress (APC) National Executive Committee (NEC) on the mode of primary election has been subject to inference and misleading interpretations.

“As an update to the earlier released statement, we wish to make the following clarifications on NEC’s resolutions on mode of primary election:

  • Primary elections into all elective offices shall be by direct primaries.
  • NEC resolved to adopt direct primaries for the nomination of the presidential candidate and all other primaries.
  • The party’s constitution though provides for indirect election and consensus, however, the use of indirect primaries is conditional and dependent on logistic impediments, peculiarities and need of a given state that makes it unable to use direct primaries.
  • The State Executive Committee (SEC) shall in consultation with aspirants and other critical stakeholders of the party in a given state forward for the consideration and approval by the National Working Committee (NWC) if indirect primary is to be adopted. The adopted mode shall now be applied to all categories of the party’s primary elections i.e. state assembly, Senate, House of Representatives and for the governorship elections.
  • The request for indirect primaries must be signed by majority of the State Executive Committee and critical stakeholders in attendance at the meeting where such resolution is reached.

He added: “Direct Primaries will, among others, ensure fairness, create a level playing ground for contestants, eliminate corrupt tendencies usually associated with the delegates system and ultimately ensure full participation of party members at all levels.”

Governors elected on the platform of the party and state chairmen are strongly in favour of indirect primaries which confer on them tremendous influence to determine who gets nominated.

On the other hand, majority of the party’s legislators, particularly those who are not in the good books of their governors, are rooting for direct primaries.

Some of the lawmakers told The Nation that many of the governors are more interested in wielding influence at the expense of party cohesion.

On Thursday, one of them said: “It will be dangerous to have APC senators who don’t have return tickets, especially in view of the current development in the Senate.

“It will be a disaster to have senators who are interested in retaining their seats but don’t have return tickets because the governors are allowed to manipulate the process to favour their choices.

“Why are the governors afraid of direct primaries?

“They have control of the party structures in their states but should allow the will of the people to prevail. If they are true democrats and progressives, they should not try to impose their candidates on the people.

“We are waiting to see how the party will address this issue in the coming days.

“But I must tell you that if they deny legislators who stand by the President and the party in these trying times, they would have started what they cannot finish, because in future, nobody will make that sacrifice again.

“If the party allows the governors to manipulate the process in favour of their candidates, they would have told us in clear terms that loyalty does not pay. And you know what that means.”

The Nation gathered that barring any last-minute change, President Muhammadu Buhari may have to pay N55 million to obtain the nomination form for the presidential contest of the party.

The nomination fee was part of the proposals presented to the party’s NEC at Thursday’s meeting.

The Nation gathered that although the proposal was not immediately approved by the NEC, it was extensively discussed.

The National Working Committee was mandated to review the figure in line with the Electoral Act.

The President and others who contested the party’s presidential primaries in November 2014 paid N27.5 million each to procure the nomination form.

In the latest proposals, governorship aspirants are to pay N22.5 million each, up from the current N5.5 million, while senatorial aspirants are to pay N8.5 million as against the current N3.3 million.

Aspirants for the House of Representatives may be required to cough out N3.5 million as against the current N2.2 million while aspirants for the State House of Assembly may be required to cough out N1.1 million as against the existing N550,000.

The proposed guidelines require each aspirant to sign an undertaking to be of good behaviour and to be vicariously liable for the action of his supporters.

One provision says: “Where it is established that an aspirant and/or his supporters are responsible for breaches of the peace and or law, the aspirant may be disqualified from participating in the nomination exercise and in serious cases prosecuted.”

The Nation gathered that the new fees were vigorously debated at the meeting.

It resolved to allow the National Working Committee take a further look at the figures and agree on how much should be paid for nomination.

Governor Lalong confirmed that leaders present at the meeting expressed concern over the high fees and the need to review them.

He said: “We debated the cost of nomination and left it to the National Working Committee to take into consideration some of the views expressed and come out with a reasonable figure. Any figure they bring will be acceptable and we don’t need to come back to NEC to ratify it.”


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