2023: APC Governors Reject Direct Primary Option

Indication has emerged that the governors on the platform of the governing All Progressives Congress,(APC) are not comfortable with the resolution of the National Assembly on the direct option as mode of primaries for political parties to pick their candidates for general elections.

The APC Governors operating under the aegis of Progressives Governors Forum, (PGF) at the end of their meeting on Monday night rejected the National Assembly resolution.

They also offered a hint to meet with the leadership of both chambers of Parliament to impress it on them to review the resolution ahead of presentation of the Electoral Act 2010 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2021 to President Muhammadu Buhari for presidential assent.

The Conference  Committee on the Electoral Act 2010 is yet to submit its report to the leadership of the National Assembly.

The Senate had last month aligned itself with its counterpart in the House of Representatives which adopted Section 87 on mandatory direct primaries for all parties.

Section 87(1) of the  bill  reads:  “A political party seeking to nominate candidates for elections under this Bill shall hold direct primaries for aspirants to all elective positions, which shall be monitored by the Commission.”

Nigerian Tribune checks revealed that the APC 2014 Constitution (as amended) makes provision for direct, indirect and consensus options for the emergence of the party candidates for general elections.

Further investigation revealed that while direct primaries involve the participation of all party members in the selection of party candidates, the indirect primaries involves the use of delegates who are usually leaders and members of the executives at the ward, local government and state levels, to elect the party’s candidate(s) at a congress or convention.

Speaking with newsmen last night at the end of the meeting  held at Kebbi State Governors Lodge , Asokoro,Abuja, Kebbi State Governor and Chairman of the PGF, Atiku Abubakar Bagudu, said the governors expressed strong reservations about the National Assembly resolution on direct primary.

While he maintained that political parties should be allowed to pick the option best suited for them, Governor Bagudu further noted that the  resolution was against the spirit of Executive Order signed by President Buhari which frowns at large gathering in the wake of the global pandemic, Coronavirus.

He further argued that direct primary was too cumbersome, unwieldy and would overstretch  the limited  resources of the Independent National Electoral Commission, statutory mandated  to oversee primaries conducted by political parties.

He said: “We discussed  the pros and cons. There has been concern that political parties are voluntary organisations. We express the concern that political   parties be allowed to choose  from the options that they so desire.  There is an Executive Order, signed by Mr. President  against large gathering. These are issues we discussee and hope that the best be achieved for Nigeria.

“We also noted that our  ward Congresses  were results of direct Primaries. The process  involves multiple roles by INEC. IF we have to involve INEC, their  resources will be overstretched.”

On the recently conducted State Congresses by the Governor  Mai Mala Buni led APC Careraker/ Extraodinary Convention Planning Committee, the Kebbi State Governor revealed that the governors appraised the exercise and adjudged it as satisfactory.

“The Congresses were conducted successfully and  we are taking steps to resolve crisis wherever they arise.”

Governor Bagudu was silent on a definite date for the conduct of national convention as he merely described it as a work in progress.

He recalled that states like Zamfara and Anambra were yet to conduct ward, local and State Congresses.

In attendance at the meeting were Dr Kayode Fayemi, Dave Umahi, Mai Mala Buni, Yahaya Bello, Simon Lalong, Gboyega Oyetola, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje, Mohammed Badaru Abubakar, governors of Ekiti, Ebonyi, Yobe, Kogi, Plateau, Osun, Kano and Jigawa states, respectively.

Others were Katsina state governor, Aminu Masari and his Nasarawa State counterpart, Abdullahi Sule.

The Ondo, Lagos and Kaduna State governors were represented by their deputies.

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