Fresh facts have emerged revealing that the adoption of direct primaries by the All Progressives Congress, APC, was an initiative President Muhammadu Buhari bought following strong conviction that the exercise would not only check money politics but will also help the party choose popular candidates for elections.
Contrary to growing insinuations that the method was introduced to boost President Buhari’s inclination for populism, Saturday Vanguard learned that he opted for it as a direct response to the conduct of APC governorship primaries in Ekiti State, where the exercise was reportedly monitised.
The President was said to have been upset by complaints that the former leadership of the party, allegedly allowed aspirants to be exploited, increasing the crisis in the party.
Hence, his decision to ensure that money no longer plays key role in the processes leading to the emergence of candidates.
Bauchi, Katsina and Osun elections. A top party source, who revealed these to Saturday Vanguard, said that Bauchi bye-election, Katsina bye-election and Osun State governorship primaries, were used to experiment the feasibility of direct primaries.
He added that the fact that none of the aspirants, who lost wrote any petition to the National Secretariat confirmed that it was the best for APC. Impressed by the outcome, the source said Buhari was convinced to throw his weight behind the method of electing party candidates despite opposition by state governors.
Currently, the governors, who may not be favoured by the new method are rebelling against the National Chairman on the suspicion that he was behind the development.
Explaining how APC embraced direct primaries, the source said: “The issue of direct primaries in the APC was welcomed by President Muhammadu Buhari after he heard that delegates in the party, in Ekiti State, collected over N1.5million each from aspirants during the last governorship primaries. It was learned that the President was very angry with some officials of the party for allowing people to be exploited because of their ambitions and vowed to end money politics in APC.
“Therefore, he opted for direct primaries to eliminate money politics in the internal affairs of the party, as regards nomination of candidates, who will fly the flag of the party. ‘The President was particularly shocked at the comments being made by some governors and National Assembly members, particularly those who defected from the party, regarding how they all came to power. It is generally believed that Buhari’s popularity catapulted majority of the National Assembly members in the North and some of their governors to power in 2015.
“Unfortunately, some of them later betrayed the President, claiming that their personalities made them, who they are today and not Buhari.
“ So the President and some of those in his inner cabinet believe that this is the time to test their popularity. Buhari felt betrayed with the utterances and actions of some of the politicians in his party and he has moved to clean up the party using a man who has seen it all as a former labour leader in Nigeria, two-time governor of Edo State and now National Chairman of the APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole to push for direct primaries.
“Fortunately for Mr President, Oshiomhole who inherited so much crisis in the party, believed that direct primaries could be one of the strategies needed to return the party back to the people. He believes very strongly that when a popular candidate emerges, it is always easy for the party to win the election.
“ He experimented with Bauchi bye-election Katsina bye-elections and the Osun State governorship primaries. In these primaries none of the aspirants, who lost wrote any petition to the National Secretariat because they knew they lost genuinely. Again, as governor of Edo State, Oshiomhole defeated PDP god fathers and he is one person, who would not want to breed another set of god fathers in APC. Therefore, direct primaries were the answer for him, whereby no political structure but the peoples’ might will throw up any candidate.
Why govs and others are at war
“This opposition towards direct primaries is as a result of the fact that most of these governors have compromised the former National Working Committee ,NWC. As a result, the affected governors most of who are two-term governors who have anointed successors and also nursing senatorial ambitions are now at loss with the adoption of direct primaries.
“Furthermore, their senatorial ambition is clashing with the resolve of the Oshiomhole-led NWC to return first term National Assembly members to the Senate due to the support and loyalty the senators have exhibited in the ongoing crisis in the Senate.
“The governors want to go to the Senate and also produce their successors but Oshiomhole is kicking against it, insisting the senators must be given return tickets while urging the affected governors to make sacrifice for the party.
“Some of these governors believe they can only succeed through indirect primaries based on their earlier relationship with the past leadership. The National Assembly members are in agreement with the direct primaries because some are believed to be more popular than their governors.
“Some close political associates of President Buhari, who were opposed to direct primaries were thinking that the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, who welcomed the development, was using Oshiomhole to achieve that. Some of them who still have this fear about Tinubu always get it wrong each time they feel Tinubu was behind it. But they discovered that it was not the making of Tinubu but that of Mr President. After they found out it was the President’s decision, some have started retracing their steps.
” Direct primaries is a system that allows every member of a political party to participate in choosing, who becomes a party candidate in an election. It is directly opposed to the system that allows selected/elected delegates to choose, who becomes the standard bearer in an election.