The All Progressives Congress has adopted direct primaries to choose its presidential candidate for the 2019 election.
The Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, said this while addressing journalists after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party.
The APC first adopted direct primary in choosing its candidate, Gboyega Oyetola, for the forthcoming Osun State elections.
President Muhammadu Buhari is expected to pick the party’s presidential ticket for the 2019 elections as he has no major challenger.
The APC, however, declined to adopt direct primaries for other positions.
Direct primaries involves the participation of all party members in the selection of party candidates while indirect primaries involves use of delegates, often party leaders at local levels, political appointees as well as elected officials, to elect party candidates.
Mr Lalong said the party executives discussed issues around “guidelines of the election, mode of election, funding and the necessity for unity within the party after the scale of defection here and there.
STATES DIFFERENT RULES
On the mode of primaries, the governor said the party left a window for states to adopt indirect primaries with the condition that the states write the national executive.
“The issue of mode of election, we all decided that for the (presidential) election, we are going into a direct primaries; but for other elections, there are two options.
“But the general option is that we go in for direct option but any state that has a problem and will want to deviate is at liberty to write and following the normal process, with a resolution from the state executive to the national exco.
“The constitution of the party provides for either direct, indirect or consensus but for the presidential election we all agreed that we will adopt direct primaries for the presidential election.
“Also a recommendation was made by the NWC that the other states should adopt the indirect mode; but there may be situations that this might be difficult in the state looking at their peculiarities. So if there are such difficulties they can apply following the process.”
The decision to allow states adopt indirect primaries may anger some of the party’s senators, some of whom have said they would leave if such decision is taken. Many senators fear governors who control the party structure in their states would determine eventual candidates if indirect primary method is adopted.
On defection, Mr Lalong said the party “unanimously agreed that that has not affected us much and has even tightened the party the more.”
He said the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party will deliberate and bring up a sequence for elections within the party.
Mr Lalong added that the party has set up a committee to look into the issue of funding while the NWC decides on the cost of nomination forms. He said the NEC will be consulted to ratify any cost proposed.
“On the issue of funding a standing committee was set up to look at funding generally for the party,” he said.
He said the issue of automatic ticket was not discussed during the meeting.
“In respect to automatic ticket we didn’t discuss the issue of automatic ticket. But we discussed that yes patriotic and loyal members should be rewarded but not necessarily with automatic ticket. We are saying some senators, our senators who are patriotic, who are supposed to be taken away were all kept in the party. So all states should look at and then we will find ways of rewarding them. But election is giving option to everybody to contest election.”
When asked how the party will cope with the issue of logistics on membership registration as it affects direct primaries, which the party has chosen for its presidential election, Mr Lalong said the party has been assured of hitch-free registration.
“Well we were given assurance by those doing the exercise. We have started an online registration in the different states now and we now have assurance that in the next two weeks we should be able to have all the people concluding and of course a register.
“The party gave assurance they will do their best to meet up with the deadline. But in any case if there are difficulties the options are still given to the party, to the NWC, to come back and say it is difficult for us to do and then they may come back to another mode of election.”
The Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello, who addressed the press alongside Mr Lalong, said the party will reward loyal party members and will follow its internal democracy in choosing candidates.
“People refer to issue of automatic ticket to governors and legislators. In our party we have reward system. You surely not throw away a loyal party man. You will not punish a loyal party man,” he said.