The National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole, says the ruling party will enforce a popular participation of its members in the process of picking candidates for the general election.
Oshiomhole said no amount of intimidation would force the leadership of the party to waiver in its determination in this regard.
The APC Chairman spoke with journalists after a prolonged meeting with governors and other leaders, who were at the secretariat to complain about how the primaries were conducted in their states.
Oshiomhole expressed regret that the governorship primary was hijacked and electoral materials taken in some states.
The APC Chairman also spoke on the primaries in Imo, Ogun and Adamawa State, stressing that results were to be announced by the returning officers and not by state party chairmen or Secretary.
Concise News reports that the governors in attendance at the meeting were Simon Lalong (Plateau), Mohammed Sani Bello (Niger), Abdulaziz Yari (Zamfara), Abubakar Bagudu (Kebbi), Tanko Al-Makura (Nasarawa), Rochas Okorocha (Imo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun) and Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo). The Chief of Staff to the President, Abba Kyari was also part of the meeting of the governors with the National Working Committee.
The APC Chairman lamented that some party members who seek to hijack the electoral process in Abuja chose to sponsor people to protest at the party secretariat instead of engaging the people and participating in the direct primary in the selection of their candidates.
Oshiomhole said the NWC had asked the panel sent to conduct the primary election in the FCT to go back and conduct the exercise through the direct primary mode.
“FCT will have to do direct primary. I have told the committee to go back, call the stakeholders and by tomorrow morning, they will have to conduct free, fair and transparent direct primary in the FCT. This is not negotiable,” he said.
He added: “We met with various leaders, whoever has challenges. This is like the political clinic. We are in a situation room and it is normal that when you are carrying out a democratic exercise across the 36 states and the FCT, you are bound to have some challenges.
“Those aspirants who are looking for shortcut should know that there is no shortcut to the democratic process. If you cannot withstand the rigour of Communication, persuading and earning the trust and respect of the ordinary member of the APC in the FCT, maybe APC should not be your party because we are committed to popular participation.”
Speaking on the Zamfara notched election, Oshiomhole said reports available to them suggested that the process was “botched, materials were snatched and results taken to unauthorised places.
The APC National Chairman said: “The panel we sent there has come to explain in unison what transpired”.
“It is unfortunate that many people choose to opt for violence. But I am happy that the panel refused to compromise and stood their ground even in the face of intimidation.
“We are going to conduct free, fair primary in Zamfara. This process has to be done according to the rules and regulations of the APC and that means it will be done by the Electoral body and not by the state government or agents of the state government.
“Every member of the party in Zamfara State has a right and that right must be respected by the NWC to vote for any aspirant of their own choice. No amount of blackmail will make us to abandon that. That is the right thing to do.
“My mandate as Chairman of the APC is to be faithful to our constitution. I swore an oath of office to be just to every member of the APC. For me, this oath of office is meant to be obeyed. We are going to set up a new committee that will conduct the election in Zamfara.”
Oshiomhole said the NWC will be sending a new panel to Imo to conduct a transparent primary, stressing that “to me and the NWC, what matters is not who win, but the integrity of the process. Once the integrity of the process can be guaranteed, whoever win, wins”, he added.