…Approves indirect primaries for other offices
…Dogara absent from NEC meeting as Saraki joins presidential race
Ahead of the 2019 general elections, the All Progressives Congress (APC) has opted for the direct primary option in choosing its presidential candidate while the indirect primaries’ will be used to elect the party’s governorship, National Assembly and state House of Assembly flag bearers.
The APC also said that the two options were considered for the other positions in case any state has a problem and would not want to deviate.
Such states, the APC said, is at liberty to write to the party to seek approval.
Speaking to journalists at the party’s secretariat on Thursday after the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, the Governors of Plateau and Kogi states, Simon Lalong and Yahaya Bello respectively, said that three major issues were discussed, including guidelines for the primaries, mode of conducting the primaries and funding.
Lalong, Bello said, “About two or three things were discussed; first, the document regarding the guidelines of the election, mode of election, funding and the necessity for unity within the party after the spate of defections.
“On the issue of defection, the party unanimously agreed that it doesn’t affect the party much but has made the party stronger while on the mode of election, it was agreed that 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 indirect 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 executive.
“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 states looking at their peculiarities. So if there are such difficulties, they can apply following the process.
“On the issue of sequence of elections, it was directed back to the National Working Committee (NWC) after deliberations to look at the comments that were raised and address them in line with the Electoral Act to bring out the sequence of election. The NWC was given those powers.
According to Governor Lalong, on the issue of funding, a standing committee was set up to look at funding generally for the party.
When asked if the issue of automatic tickets was discussed, he said it was not discussed, saying that “we didn’t discuss the issue of automatic tickets but we agreed that patriotic and loyal members should be rewarded but not necessarily with automatic tickets.
“We are saying some senators; our senators who are patriotic, who are supposed to be taken away but were all kept in the party. So all states should look and find ways of rewarding them. But on election, the option is given to everybody to contest election.
“The cost of nomination form, we debated that and I think we left it again to the NWC to look at some of the views that were expressed to come out with a reasonable figure. And any figure will be accepted; we don’t need to come back to NEC to rectify that”.
Governor Bello, while laying more emphasis on the automatic ticket, said that “people refer to issue of automatic tickets to governors and legislators. In our party, we have reward system. You will surely not throw away a loyal party man. You will not punish a loyal party man.
“We will always support and reward those legislators who were supposed to have been taken away in a deceitful manner but stood by Mr. President and the country.
“Those that are patriotic to this party and this country surely will be rewarded in one way or the other, but we don’t refer to it as automatic ticket because there is internal democracy and we are going to follow every letter and intent of our constitution,” he added.
Saraki, Tambuwal, Ortom, others exit, not a dent – Buhari, Oshiomhole
Meanwhile, in his first major reaction to the spate of defections that have rocked the APC, President Muhammadu Buhari, on Thursday, described the defections as barely a dent on the party’s dominance even as he stated that the APC remains in control of the National Assembly.
The gale of defections had seen prominent leaders of the party like Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Governors Samuel Ortom, Aminu Tambuwal, Abdulfatah Ahmed and a host of others moving to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
But the President speaking at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party in Abuja, further stated that in spite of the reconciliatory efforts of the new national leadership of the APC, some party stalwarts bent on upsetting the status quo could not “muster the figures they had envisaged to cause an upset”.
Buhari admonished the party to play by the rules as party primaries approach, adding that his government will continue in delivering the dividends of democracy and promises he made to Nigerians.
“Let me congratulate the current leadership of our party led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The team emerged at a turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of massive defections in such a way that could rock the very foundation of the party.
“Despite reconciliatory attempts to keep the house together, some members were hell bent on pulling down the roof. They left, threatening to go along with scores of people, thus upsetting the party.
“But due to the work of the new party leadership, the exit barely made a dent on our super structure as they could not muster the figures they had envisaged to cause an upset, particularly in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
“APC remains in control and is increasing by the day with quality people joining the party,” the President reiterated.
Admonishing the party to adhere to best practices as primaries to choose the party’s flag bearers in 2019 approach, President Buhari said that “as we match to party primaries, I ask all and sundry to ensure that we play the game according to the rules.
“Let us come out with free, fair and credible primaries which will be a precursor to free, fair and credible elections next year. Let us shine the light through our primaries and the rest of the country will find the way.
“Our primaries must be in complete compliance with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) the Electoral Act and above all, the constitution of the party.
“This is the time we must work for unity, harmony and togetherness.
“Let us all join hands to move the party forward. We must take our party to the next level and I urge all and sundry to give support to our national working committee.”
The APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, in his remarks, also descended on those who left the party, describing them as migrant politicians with no verifiable address.
He said, “I am happy to report that as a result of those engagements, many senators and members of the House of Representatives renewed confidence in our party but those who were determined to leave not on account of what anyone had done wrong against them but on account of their ambitions that they believed they could not realise on our platform.
“Even though they were not denied the opportunity to try out that ambition, they arrived at the conclusion that the only way they can realise their ambitions was to relocate and they relocated. Of course, for a distant observer, he would think that this was a huge blow to our party.
“I had made a point before but it seemed I was misunderstood in some quarters when I said if some individuals of no political address decide to leave, I would not lose my sleep.
“Now, I say they do not have a political address because if you have a history of moving every season from one party to the other with only one constant thing in mind -to contest, now what is your political address? So, for people like that who are migrant politicians, I am not able to identify their political addresses and therefore, I refuse to lose my sleep.
But the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, was conspicuously absent at the meeting, being the highest ranking member of the party in the legislature.
However, Oshiomhole read an apology from Dogara and from the Deputy Speaker, Yusuff Lasun, while the APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, made a surprise appearance even though he is constitutionally not a statutory member of the decision-making organ of the party.
Saraki joins presidential race
In a related development, the number of aspirants jostling for the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) swelled further with the declaration of Senate President, Bukola Saraki, in Abuja, on Thursday.
Saraki said he possess a unique blend of executive and legislative experience to push for and implement reforms that will deliver real improvements in the daily lives of Nigerians and spearhead a new agenda that can transform the lives of ordinary Nigerians.
He promised to offer leadership driven by empathy where leaders are responsive to the citizens.
“For me, the leadership we deserve is one that will be a source of pride to all Nigerians, one that will be respected and admired in Africa and around the world. It should be a leadership that can hold its own and stand tall anywhere in the world. That is the type of leadership I offer,” he said.
Saraki promised to ensure the security of lives if elected president, stressing that “as things stand now, no one is safe in this country.
“No one feels truly safe. We must restore the sanctity of the rule of law and strengthen democratic institutions in order to build a just, fair and equitable society for all.
“We must rebuild the trust of our people in government. We need a new generation of leaders that are competent, with the capability to rise to the challenges of the 21st century. We must pull this country back together and rebuild, block by block, with dedication and commitment”.
This, he said, is an urgent task that requires the concerted efforts of each and every one.
“As we look around today, what do we see? What is the condition of our citizens? Where are we as a nation? How are we perceived locally and internationally? Why are we not making the expected progress? Why are we not growing? There is no time to waste. The time is now, to come together to stimulate growth in Nigeria, especially in the national economy.
“It is with all these in mind, and taking account of the challenges that I have outlined, that I have decided to answer the call of the teeming youth who have asked me to run for President.
“Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of President in the coming general elections in 2019 on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians,” he added.
He further promised to redesign the national security architecture, while adequately equipping security agencies to fulfill their primary role of protecting lives and property.
Saraki said his administration will address infrastructural deficit through aggressive financing initiatives, including mutually beneficial PPP arrangements, regular floating of bonds and other financial instruments, which will ensure stable, adequate and reliable funding to see to the completion of core projects especially roads, rail and power.
In addition, he plans to protect all Nigerians and defend their constitutional rights and freedoms, to stand for and uphold at all times the principle of the rule of law, which is the bedrock of democratic governance.
Reeling out his anti-corruption plans, he said “ours will not be a selective fight against corruption. The emphasis will be on strengthening institutions, with a particular focus on deterrence. We cannot afford to compromise our institutions with proxy wars against perceived political opponents. We see the fight against corruption as crucial to Nigeria’s economic development”.
Lamenting the state of the nation, the Senate president said that Nigerians are crying out for succour “as many children are hungry, many people are dying of avoidable or otherwise treatable diseases, many have fallen below basic living standards, and are now among the 87 million that sealed Nigeria’s position as the country with the highest number of people in extreme poverty.
“Our young people lack opportunities. The necessary education facilities and system to equip them for the future simply do not exist. We are not creating the jobs needed to usefully engage them in order to grow our economy. And too often, the youth feel shut out, prevented from having any say in the direction of this nation.
“The harsh conditions of extreme poverty faced by the people, fuels the state of insecurity all over the country. Hunger, lack of education and lack of opportunities push many Nigerians into criminal activities including terrorism.
“Many of our communities are paralysed with fear – due to incessant communal crises, kidnappings and other social ills, as well as the threat of terrorism. We are failing abysmally to tackle the problems of today and to prepare for the future.
“Our economy is broken and is in need of urgent revival in order for Nigeria to grow. GDP growth rate has declined. Diversification remains an illusion.
Unemployment is at an all-time high. Businesses are shutting down. Jobs are being lost in record numbers, and the capital needed to jumpstart our economy is going elsewhere.
“Nigeria is perhaps more divided now than ever before. We are increasingly divided along regional, religious and ethnic lines.
“Nigerians are also divided by class, a festering gulf between the ‘Haves’ and the ‘Have-Nots’. The fault lines of this nation are widening to an alarming degree. We must do something fast, and we must be brave about it”, he said.
His government, he said, will be a dynamic government of action that will pursue the growth of Nigeria with doggedness, determination and conviction, promising to lead a result-driven administration, set targets with clear timelines to ensure that anticipated deliverables are met.
Promising to deliver to the letter, he said “you can benchmark us and hold us accountable. In short, I assure you that I will deliver on all promises.
What I envision is a new chapter in governance in this country. We will be driven by what is best for Nigerians”.
Saraki, who chose the occasion of a dialogue with youth and young aspirants at the Sheraton Hotel, Abuja, to declare his presidential ambition, promised a youth inclusive government while acknowledging that “Nigeria is a relatively young country bursting with tremendous energy, ability and potential,” adding that “more than 70 per cent of our population is under the age of 40.
“I have deliberately chosen the opportunity of being here with you; my number one constituency who I see as the future of our great country, to make my intention known.
I believe the Nigerian youths are critical to rebuilding and growing the economy, and restoring our national pride. I therefore ask you and all well-meaning Nigerians to join hands with me in this noble cause,” he added.