By Chijioke Okoronkwo
Details of the discussions and outcome of Tuesday’s APC Caucus meeting are now emerging as sources in attendance say the party is now building a consensus on adopting direct primaries, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports.
NAN reports that direct primary, which is now used in some form in all states in America, functions as a preliminary election whereby voters decide their party’s candidates.
In indirect primary however, voters elect delegates who choose the party’s candidates at a nominating convention.
Sources told NAN that the meeting presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo with leaders of the National Assembly, party Caretaker Committee Chair and representatives of governors ended with an understanding shared by governors and federal legislators that direct primaries being actively canvassed by the lawmakers “is not entirely unacceptable.”
The Caucus concluded that with the expected assent of President Muhammadu Buhari on the just passed Electoral Amendment Bill, the party leaders are ready to stick together on direct primaries.
It was further learnt that the meeting opened with the vice president urging members of the Caucus to maintain unity and ensure that leaders in different arms of government and those in the party leadership agree on a common decision.
According to a source familiar with the controversy on primaries, the vice president like the president neither favoured governors supporting indirect primary nor federal lawmakers in support of direct primary.
” Just like the president, the vice president didn’t push any preference either in favor or against the idea of direct primary.
“ He simply managed to rally the members of the caucus toward a consensus, encouraging the different sides to prioritise unity and peace of the party above anything else,” the source said.
NAN also learnt that after Osinbajo spoke, Mai Mala Buni, the Chairman of the Caretaker Committee of the APC and governor of Yobe, presented the Committee’s position on party primaries, urging a united stand on the matter.
He was said to have given an assurance that APC would be guided by its constitution in its conduct and urged members not to lose sight of the bigger picture.
Buni, however, spoke in favor of both direct and indirect primaries as options.
In the same vein, President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, spoke on the need for leaders of the party and other stakeholders to close ranks and work for the progress of the party, especially in the forthcoming elections.
Lawan, who noted that the positions held by the party at different levels and arms of government should not be taken for granted, urged members to join forces to sustain the gains recorded so far.
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, on his part, called for strict adherence to the constitution of the party as well as relevant laws of the country in the conduct of party activities, including primaries.
He said the passage of the bill that amended the Electoral Act 2021 by both chambers of the National Assembly was a statement of its commitment to the party’s victory in 2023.
NAN reports that Gov. Abubakar Bagudu of Kebbi, who spoke on behalf of the governors, said the issues bordering on the concluded State primaries would be resolved.
According to him, the governors are committed to an amicable resolution of the lingering issues ahead of the 2023 elections.
He urged legislators and the party members not to act out of annoyance over the recently concluded Ward Congresses and State Primaries.
NAN gathered that after all the scheduled speakers had spoken, the vice president threw the issue open for discussion with the understanding that given the action of NASS on the same day in passing the bill that legislated direct primaries, what was left was the president’s action.
It was learnt that Senate Leader, Yahaya Abdullahi, then responded to Bagudu’s remarks, arguing that the passage of the amended electoral bill that same day was not in protest at the State Primaries conducted across the country.
He said the legislators through their actions ensured inclusion, urging the party not to take the lawmakers for granted as they remained committed to the progress of the party.
NAN reports that the vice president, in closing, restated his position that what was important for him was to ensure that the party proceeded as one united force.
He also expressed satisfaction that the party would emerge stronger and better. (NAN)