Nigeria News
2015: Buhari, Atiku clash over procedure for presidential primaries

The All Progressives Congress, APC was at the weekend headed for a serious crisis following strong reservations among its major presidential candidates over the procedure for adopting the 2015 presidential candidate for the party.

Atiku buhri

At the end of a National Executive Committee, NEC meeting of the party last weekend, the party was unable to forge a consensus on the issue with associates of the major aspirants reportedly holding on to their positions.

Two of the major presidential aspirants, Gen. Muhammadu Buhari and former vice-president Atiku Abubakar, Vanguard learnt were at the head of the major divisions over the adoption of a consensus or the conduct of primaries for the adoption of the presidential candidate. The other major aspirants, notably, Governor Rabiu Kwankwanso of Kano State and Mr. Sam Nda-Isaiah are reportedly indifferent.

Yesterday, aides of Governor Adams Oshiomhole of Edo State, who is also set to enter the fray were largely mute on the issue, as one said it was too premature to express a position given the fact the governor is yet to formally declare his intention.

Buhari wants consensus candidacy

Party sources disclosed that Buhari’s associates in the party were pushing for consensus on the fact that majority of the party positions across board were filled with consensus. On the other hand, the Buhari supporters are praying that if the consensus arrangement is jettisoned for any reason that a direct primary involving all 18 million registered members of the party be held.

Their point is being strongly opposed by Atiku’s growing supporters within the party hierarchy who say that a direct primary would be unwieldy, costly. Rather, the Atiku camp has proposed what it called a Modified Direct Primary that would involve about 20,000 delegates choosing the party candidate. That prospect is feared by the Buhari camp who claimed that it would offer opportunity to easily woo or take over delegates hitherto pledged to other aspirants.

According to the Buhari supporters, the introduction of full direct primary would limit the prospect of Atiku wooing the delegates unlike a modified primary that could see Atiku and his agents now in the field winning the number of delegates.

“Having carefully examined our great party” the APC constitution, especially Article 20 and the Electoral Act 2010, one comes to the inevitable conclusion that it is better to adopt consensus in electing our candidates for House of Assembly, House of Representatives, Senate, Governor and presidential candidates and where it fails to adopt direct primary,” a major Buhari supporter in the NEC told selected newsmen last weekend.

“It is on record that more than 80% of the ward, local government area and state congresses which produced the current executives of our great party were conducted through consensual arrangement. And more than 95% of the current National Executive Committee were elected via consensus,” he said

“When one considers the bitterness, rancour and bad blood indirect primary will most likely generate, it becomes safer to work towards a consensual agreement. We must at all times bear in mind that we are being hunted and that those who boasted to rule Nigeria for 60 years uninterrupted, are still hell bent to scuttle the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerians for genuine ideological regime change.

“We must take note that our challenger, the ruling party has just announced the nomination of the incumbent President as its candidate by consensus means and they had commenced presidential campaign with vigour and dexterity”.

Atiku at the weekend, however, pledged his determination to abide by any democratic procedure adopted by the party even as he canvassed the advantages of the Modified Direct Primaries.

In an email statement issued to correspondents on the issue by his media aide, Mallam Garba Shehu, the Atiku camp said:

“Our candidate is a democrat. What he is opposed to is any undemocratic process going by the name of consensus, imposition or anointment. Back in the PDP, if you remember, he dragged the party to court and won on these issues with a resounding victory.

Atiku’s camp proposes Modified Direct Primary

“The decision of our campaign to support the Modified Direct Primary is not because of anything but for its practical applicability.

“If you say you want direct primary, how can you get all 18 million registered APC voters to take part?

“That would mean you will be setting up a vote in every polling booth, doing the same thing as INEC is doing. It will be the same thing as a general election.Where do you have the resources, the manpower, the time and the security support for this?”

“Secondly, don’t forget that the figure of the registered members is not a settled issue in many states. There are many places in which it is being disputed. Besides, it keeps changing everyday. New members are coming in and some are also leaving us. How do you deal with this?”

“Those who argue for direct primaries also need to factor in the fact that there is no way you take the process from the hands of governors if you allow it to take place in the states. Genuine fears on the part of some people is that in nearly each state, they may just end up writing the results or where this is not possible, breathe down on the necks of local officials to do as they wish.”

“The Modified Direct Primary cannot on the other hand be faulted as being undemocratic because the delegates coming forward, as proposed, are all elected officials. There is no dispute concerning their status as elected officials. For this reason alone, they are credible because they are representative of their wards. We support it because we believe it is broad enough to make for popular representation.”

“Even at this, 20,000 delegates is still a large number to bring under one roof, considering that even the PDP brings together between four to five thousands delegates only for the their presidential primaries.”

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