A former Borno senator and 2019 governorship aspirant, Muhammed Abba-Aji, has said he should be counted out of the Borno state’s All Progressives Congress (APC) choice of indirect primaries.
Mr. Abba-Aji, who was first to declare his 2019 ambition, said he was absent at the meeting by choice because he was not on the same page with those that plotted to force the choice of indirect primaries on the party.
According to him, the decision of the Borno APC State executive committee to go for indirect primaries was more of self-serving than in the overall interest of the party.
The ruling APC had on Tuesday at a meeting rejected the direct primaries format of selecting candidates for the party as proposed by the national headquarters of the party.
During the meeting, top members of the party in Borno state said it was the shared view of members, including Mr. Abba-Aji. They said although Mr Abba-Aji was absent, he had sent his endorsement by proxy.
Although the chairman of the party, Bukar Dalori, had mentioned during the meeting that all key members of the party had endorsed their decision, the roll call of those did not reflect his claims.
Majority of those considered to be loyalists of the former governor of Borno state, Modu Sheriff, who is currently on war path with Governor Kashim Shettima, were conspicuously absent at the meeting.
Many names of top APC stalwarts were mentioned in proxy by various persons who claimed they were instructed to register their endorsement of every decision taken at the meeting.
Reacting to journalists’ questions on his position concerning the coming primaries, Mr. Abba-Aji said he was never in support of indirect primaries.
According to him, direct primaries would have guaranteed persons like him the chance to test their popularity.
“I am 100% in support of direct primaries,” he said in a message electronically sent to journalists. “This is because I don’t want to be regarded as being afraid of the card-carrying members of my party.
“I have nothing against the delegates who as card-carrying members are also bona fide participants in direct primaries.
“Since the presidential primaries will be conducted using direct primaries, I find all reasons advanced by the state in support of indirect primaries unconvincing.
“I also believe that direct primaries will deepen democracy in Nigeria as it will guarantee level playing field for the aspirants, and free and fair choices for our party members,” said the former senator who was also a one-time presidential adviser on National Assembly matters to President Goodluck Jonathan.
He said while he did not deny that he had a friendly telephone chat with “my brother Sen. Habu Kyari, regarding the pros and cons of the direct and indirect systems”, he said he did not request him or anybody else to tender any apologies on his behalf.
“Indeed, I had ample opportunities to attend the meeting; I simply didn’t because I am not in support of the indirect primaries which is the position that they have gone to Maiduguri to advance,” he said.