The ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Thursday said it will not give automatic ticket to any officeholder but will find a way of rewarding loyal senators and House of Representatives’ members.
It adopted indirect primaries for gubernatorial candidates while the presidential candidates will go through direct primaries.
In the wake of the gale of defections from the party, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, APC National Chairman, had promised loyal lawmakers automatic tickets to keep them in the party.
Briefing newsmen on the outcome of Thursday’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting in Abuja, Plateau State governor, Simon Lalong and his Kogi State counterpart said the general option agreed upon is that indirect option should be adopted.
Lalong said: “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 state looking at their peculiarities. So if there are such difficulties they can apply following the process.”
When asked if the issue of automatic ticket was discussed, he said it was not discussed.
“We didn’t discuss the issue of automatic ticket. But we discussed that patriotic and loyal members should be rewarded but not necessarily with automatic ticket. We are saying some senators, our senators who are patriotic, who are supposed to be taken away were all kept in the party. So all states should look at and then we will find ways of rewarding them. But election is giving option to everybody to contest election.
“On the cost of nomination form, we debated that and I think we left it again to the NWC taking into view 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.”
Also speaking, Kogi State governor, Yahaya Bello, clarified that the party will not give automatic tickets to loyal lawmakers and governors seeking re-election but they all will be rewarded.
“People refer to issue of automatic ticket 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.”
Earlier, President Muhammadu Buhari had during the meeting appealed to officials to leave shining examples with the forthcoming party primaries across the country.
Buhari, who arrived the national secretariat of the party in Abuja about 11:20a.m, said the primaries should conform to the electoral guidelines as contained in the nation’s constitution and the Electoral Act so as to bring about fairness and justice to all.
The meeting which had in attendance Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, and other chieftains of the party including Senate Majority Leader, Ahmed Lawan; Secretary to the Government the Federation, Boss Mustapha; governors, new party members like Godswill Akpabio was informed that the Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, and Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun, sent in their apologies due to engagement and medical appointments outside the country, respectively.
Buhari stressed that any political party worth its salt must get its internal democracy right.
He congratulated the new leadership of the party which, he said, emerged at a critical time when there was massive attempt of decampment.
The president said the exit of the decampees was not enough to upset the party structure, rather the APC remains in control and growing by the day in both the red and green chambers of the National Assembly.
“Let me congratulate the current leadership of our party led by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole. The team emerged at a most turbulent time when there were rumours and speculations of massive defections in a way that was possible to rock the very foundation of the party.
“Despite reconciliatory attempts to keep the house together some members were hell bent on pulling down the roofs. They left plotting to go along with scores of people. But due to your men’s work by the able party leadership, the exit barely made attempt in our superstructure 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 increases by the day with quality people joining our fold. I say congratulations to the new members.
“Hope is rekindled in our hearts but we will give our country purposeful leadership that will improve the quality of life of the people.”
Buhari also assured that his administration will continue to secure the country, fight corruption and position the economy in a way that jobs can be provided for the youths and give them a future and hope.
He further assured that his administration will fulfill all electoral promises made to Nigerians, adding, “We are fulfilling them and we will continue to serve with heart and might to build a nation where peace, justice and prosperity shall reign.”
On the forthcoming primaries, he said that the party must continue to come out with free and credible primaries.
He said, “Today, we are meeting to look at some major decisions that will lead to excellent performance at the polls next year starting with party primaries at various levels.
“I urge you all to ensure that the decision taken here today are those that will be for the good of the party and that will meet the yearnings and aspirations of our teeming members and supporters nationwide. They look up to us for guidance and we must not disappoint or fail them.”
He added, “As we stand on the threshold of party primaries, I urge all and sundry to ensure that we play the game according to the rules.
Adams Oshiomhole, APC’s National Chairman, gave account of his stewardship in the last two months in office, saying under his watch the party clinched victory at the Ekiti gubernatorial election, including the bye-elections that took place in Bauchi and Katsina.
Oshiomhole, however, appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to show more commitment in addressing genuine grievances that may have spurred some members of the party to defect.
He described most of the defectors as conservatives who could not stand the wave of change brought about by the progressives.
Before the meeting went into closed door session to deliberate and take resolutions on an appropriate primary system to adopt in selecting candidates for the 2019 general elections, Oshiomhole stylishly recognised Senator Ahmed Lawal, Senate Majority Leader as Senate President.
He did this while observing protocols, saying, ‘Senate President, well in the absence of the Senate President, the Senate Leader, Senator Ahmed Lawal, can stand in”.
He insisted that those who left the party did so for personal gains, adding that “the decampees felt it will be a huge blow to our party but I repeat those that left for personal ambition, those with no political address, migrant politicians and rolling stones politicians, I won’t lose my sleep. Many felt my comments were arrogant but we needed to be blunt.”
There was, however, a surprise entrance into the national secretariat of APC, venue of the meeting when the National Leader of the party, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, came into the premises about 10:56a.m in a black Jeep.
The drama ensued when a serving APC governor, who was said not to be at peace with Tinubu’s presence took a protest to the party’s director of administration.
A reliable source, who attended the meeting explained that “the governor was not at home with Tinubu’s presence. That is why he protested to the director of administration on why they allowed a non-NEC member like Tinubu to be in attendance.”
It was also gathered that the former Lagos governor who was at the party’s House as long as the meeting lasted, did not, however, enter the meeting hall.
Buhari Meets South West Stakeholders In Aso Rock
Meanwhile, President Buhari on Thursday also met with political stakeholders from the South West.
Sources at the meeting said the presidency convened it to perfect strategies ahead of the Osun gubernatorial election slated for September 22.
The meeting held at the First Lady Conference Hall about 8:30p.m when the president arrived the hall.
Among those at the meeting included the National Leader of APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu; former APC interim National Chairman, Chief Bisi Akande, APC National Chairman, Adams Oshiomhole.
Majority of the stakeholders at the meeting were from Osun State.
The Chairman of the Osun Governorship Campaign Committee and Kano State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje, was also at the meeting.
Others included the Osun State Governor, Rauf Aregbesola; Ondo State governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, and Oyo State governor, Abiola Ajimobi.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha and Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari, were also at the meeting.