When asked if the NWC was divided on the method for the primary, Mustapha replied: “I cannot say we are divided, because division is a big word for us to use in a family issue.”
• We’ll comply with INEC electoral guidelines – Oshiomhole
Romanus Ugwu and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
Indications that all might not be well with the All Progressives Congress (APC) emerged, yesterday, as some National Working Committee (NWC) members and notable leaders of the party openly challenged the decision to adopt direct primaries to elect candidates at all levels.
The aggrieved party stalwarts have vowed to resist the adoption of the model, which was recently employed in the selection of governor candidate in Osun State.
Speaking at a press conference in Abuja, APC National Vice Chairman North-East, Mustapha Salihu, accused some leaders of the party from the South-West of plotting to foister regional imperialism on the party.
Salihu believed that apart from the fact that the system required a lot of supervision, the electoral body was not prepared for the system.
“Before now, I didn’t have any feelings that there was possibility of conspiracy, but when I see people planting stories, I now began to suspect. If one region feels that (direct primary) was best for them, I think they can canvass that at the regional level and give us reason they need that.
“I want to believe that in a democracy, the majority have their way and the minority have their say. So, they have the right to wish and if we decide to make it flexible, definitely what they want will be given to them in their own various states.
“But one thing I want to assure is that we will not succumb to regional imperialism so long as we are acting within the constitution,” he warned.
When asked if the NWC was divided on the method for the primary, Mustapha replied: “I cannot say we are divided, because division is a big word for us to use in a family issue. Actually, there may be divergent views, and all these divergent views will be trashed out at the NEC.
“Caucus is not a decision making body; if you check our constitution, Caucus is just an organ, it is an advisory body. It is just a transitory organ where memos from NWC pass through before it now go
to the National Executive Council for decision.
“Any decision you want to get on, whether we will have to go for direct or indirect primaries, will have to wait for the outcome of the NEC.
“I am aware that some members of the House of Representatives from certain part of the country are circulating text messages to their colleagues that a decision has been reached as to the nature of the primary to be used by the party.
“NWC deliberated on the matter; the reason I am doing this is that some people are trying to mislead members of the public claiming that some decision came from the party or an organ of the party.
“Any decision that will come from the party will be announced officially by the spokesperson of the party,” he stated.
National Chairman of the party Adams Oshiomhole has, however, assured that the party would follow Independent Electoral Commission’s (INEC) guidelines.
He stated that the APC would comply with the INEC guidelines because they were derived from the provisions of the Electoral Act.
The former Edo governor who spoke at the National Caucus meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari, at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday night further assured that the principles of internal democracy would be followed in the primaries.
It was the first National Caucus meeting of the party since he was elected over two months.
Speaking to State House Correspondents at the end of the three hours meeting (8.30 – 11.30 p.m.), Oshiomhole said the meeting discussed the forthcoming party primaries based on the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2019 general elections as released by INEC in January.
According to the timetable released by the INEC chairman, Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud, party primaries for the presidential, governorship, federal and state elections should hold from August 18 to October 7.
The Federal Capital Territory Area Council Elections would commence on September 4 and rul till October 27.
According to Oshiohmole, “The meeting just had a conversation around the forthcoming primaries. As you know, based on INEC timetable on primaries, this is the season from the president down to House of Assembly and the exercise must end on Oct. 7 according to INEC guidelines.
“We are obliged to comply with the guidelines because the guidelines are derived from the provisions of the Electoral Act.
“So, we basically discussed how to ensure full compliance with the INEC guidelines and also ensure that that we observe all the principles of internal democracy, participation, ensuring fairness and justice.”
On strategies put in place to sure the primaries are rancour free, he explained that by respecting the Electoral Act and the APC’s constitution in the conduct of the party’s activities, members would enjoy justice and fairness.
He said the resolutions at the Caucus meeting would be tabled at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting for deliberation and possible endorsement.
“By Thursday we will go to NEC where the formal decisions will be ratified and once they are ratified there will be no problem; they are not being kept because every member of the party and indeed Nigerian are entitled to know how we agreed about the exercise.
“But I think everybody has confidence that we will do a very credible primaries to ensure that those who
fly the flag of the party have the mandate of their various constituencies.”
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawal said the caucus was assured by members of the APC in the National Assembly that they were united and stronger than ever.