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Direct Primary Brouhaha: APC Governors, National Assembly Await Buhari’s Return To Resolve Face-off

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The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) is waiting for the return of President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve the face-off between its governors and members of the National Assembly over the latter’s adoption of the direct primary in electing party candidates for elective offices in the amendment to the Electoral Act 2010.

President Buhari is currently on an official visit to France.

Though the party has not announced its position on the controversies surrounding the direct primary, APC governors, under the aegis of Progressive Governors’ Forum (PGF), opposed the election mode.

Rising from their meeting on Monday night in Abuja, the governors argued that the election process would amount to usurpation of the right of political parties to determine how they elect their flag bearers.

Less than 24 hours after the governors’ rejection of the adoption was made public, the National Assembly Conference Committee on the Electoral Act 2010 (Repeal and Re-Enactment) Bill, 2021, ratified their position and passed the Bill on Tuesday for the ascent of the President.

Acting on the President’s mandate, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday, called a tripartite meeting – an interface mechanism between the party, the body of governors, and members of the National Assembly – but the meeting was deadlocked.

A source at the meeting told our correspondent in confidence that the inability of the meeting to broker a truce left the party with no choice than to await the return of the President.

“Despite the reconciliatory approach of Mr. Vice-President in resolving the matter, the inability of the lawmakers and the governors to shift ground left the meeting with the only option of waiting for Mr. President, who is expected back in the country next week.“You will recall that it took the intervention of Mr. President, in June last year, to resolve the leadership crisis that gripped the party before the Adams Oshiomole-led National Working Committee (NWC) of the party was sacked.

“The party is at another crossroads as the governors and the lawmakers are not ready to shift ground. The party has resolved to wait for Mr. President,” our source said.

Another source close to the governors said there were moves among the governors to reach out to President Buhari to convince him not to sign the amended Electoral Act 2021 (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill, 2021, into law.

To actualise this, a Federal Executive Cabinet member is said to being positioned to prevail on the President not to sign the Bill into law.

Also, Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello yesterday opposed the direct primary option.  Bello, who spoke on a television programme, said although the governors were not afraid of direct primary, they relaised that the option, if passed, would not make things to go well for everybody.

He said it was wrong for the lawmakers to base their decisions on the current happenings, warning that the decision would boomerang and hurt democracy in the long run.

Bello said: “Who took the party away from the people in the first place? I think the party remains with the people.

“The first thing is that the National Assembly is expected to do its job and we, as governors, respect that a lot. But I have to warn that the few senators, including Senator Adamu Aliero, who are having issues with their governors, will not be right to push down direct primary on Nigerians.”

He queried: “What happens where direct primary can’t be used?”

According to him, if the legislators set the people against their leaders, that will be a challenge that can consume everyone at the end.

Bello wondered why the legislators, who are representatives of the people, could say using indirect primaries is wrong.

He added: “The drafters of our Constitution already took the issue of option into consideration when drafting our law. So, it will be wrong for some people, based on their own interests, to seek to change that now.”

 

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