The introduction of direct primaries in the All Progressives Congress (APC) by the Oshiomhole-led leadership of the party was well received but increasingly, there has been concerns as to whether this process will finally answer questions surrounding the credibility and acceptability of candidates produced in often to, contentious primaries. ANDREW ESSIEN writes.
Primary election in the country in recent times, has been characterized by anomalies and irregularities to the extent that common man was left with no choice, than to look on as delegates, often times alleged to be influenced by money, elect candidates that are not a representation of the whole.
This was one of the major issues that plagued the immediate-past leadership of the party as stakeholders became increasingly dissatisfied with the process that brought their leaders, at various levels, into being.
The recent introduction of direct primaries by APC is a multi-million dollar task that may not be taken lightly by those who invest heavily into the slavery transaction of delegate trading where the highest bidder win the race, It is indeed an ill time to them particularly that state congress was conducted already in their favour. This will now give them a reason to do everything possible to disrupt the process or bring chaos that may lead to either cancellation or reverting back to the old system of delegate slavery.
In fact, the recent states congresses and national convention of the has continued to hunt the APC in the last few months so much so that the resultant effect has crystalized into some of its dissatisfied members having to dumped the party to align with the major opposition, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other political parties in a coalition arrangement ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The current leadership of the party has continued to argue that the introduction of the direct primaries is not only meant to deepen the internal democracy of the party, eliminate, if possible, the penchant for trading votes for money and the imposition of candidates on the party, but to bring an acceptable and to a large extent, credible candidate for the party even as it goes to the all important 2019 general elections.
The current national chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole while explaining the rationale behind the move stressed that the NWC “decided that in order to ensure popular participation, and to deepen democracy in Osun State, in line with the provisions of’’ the APC ‘’constitution which allow for either direct or indirect primary’’, they ‘’have resolved that the governorship election primary in Osun State will be conducted on the basis of direct primary.
‘’What that means is that every card-carrying member of our party will participate in the process of nominating the flag bearer of the party. This for us, is the most democratic way to conduct elections and is in line with what our critical stakeholders from that part of the country want and we are quite happy to oblige.
“The whole idea of that is that the more we allow our party members to participate in the process of nominating candidates, we will remove the issue of corruption or monetising the processes of nominating aging candidates, in addition to the fact that party members will have a sense of ownership of the outcome of the exercise”, assured the former Edo State Governor.
In layman terms, every registered member of the APC may not just be an “observer” but a participant and delegate who will not just be involved in general elections but also in all primary elections, to choose their prospective elective representatives.
A political analyst, Usman Yahaya, averred that “The recent introduction of direct primaries by APC is a multi-million dollar task that may not be taken lightly by those who invest heavily into the slavery transaction of delegate trading where the highest bidder win the race, It is indeed an ill time to them particularly that state congress was conducted already in their favour. This will now give them a reason to do everything possible to disrupt the process or bring chaos that may lead to either cancellation or reverting back to the old system of delegate slavery.
“Nigerians should understand that a battle line has just been drawn between the forces of darkness who mastered the art of imposing candidates of their choice and the masses who now have the liberty to decide who deserve what.
However, while the decision has received wider commendation from party faithfuls who believe in the process, others see it as another dangerous adventure that could undermine the internal democratic principles of the party and even further open avenues for deep pocket politicking.
The contention here also is that, while there is yet to be a comprehensive and acceptable party register, the process, they said, is also prone to manipulation to suit particular interests.
Emphasis on the cost of running a direct primary was also raised considering the fact that logistic to conduct a state-wide direct primary would be almost twice that of the delegate system.
The process of direct primaries seems to elicit the nod of some party leaders like received Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who says the involvement of all APC members in nominations will ensure that the party chooses the candidate of the people.
“It will also serve to galvanise the party membership for the general election that lies ahead. Moreover, direct primaries will serve as a future deterrent to those who might have tried to corrupt the delegate system of obtaining nominations. With that system, the temptation to ‘ buy ’ delegates was an ever – present weakness . ”
A governorship aspirant on the platform of the party in Osun State, Mr Kunle Adegoke, had faulted the party’s leadership for opting for direct primary election without proper planning, saying they were being ambushed even when the party has no reliable membership register in the state.
Adegoke who had also alleged that the direct primary was orchestrated to technically beat other aspirants out of the race for a particular aspirant, said, ‘’no party goes into an election without a voters’ register. It is only in Osun that some leaders of the party are practising this electoral ‘abracadabra’. None of the 17 aspirants cleared by the screening committee of the party had been shown any membership registers”, he had complained.
At another level, some NEC members are said to be canvassing positions on the method of voting during the presidential primary elections.
While it was gathered that the party leadership is leaving the issue open-ended, some NEC members are said to be mobilizing others to ensure that the party sticks to one method, either direct or indirect primaries, rather than having a situation whereby the two methods would be used whenever it seems convenient for the party.
Whatever the case may be, the party must now fine tune its selection process to avoid dissenting opinions and divergent views especially on the eve of an all-important general election.
The gale of defections that has hit the party in recent times and the reasons so given by the defectors even if it is considered as flimsy, should not be discountenanced else the elections will deal a great blow. As it is often said “a stitch in time, saves nine”.
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