APC tripartite committee meeting on direct primaries deadlocked


…Buhari to make final decision, says Governor Yahaya Bello

By Abdullahi Mohammed, Abuja
A meeting of the enlarged Tripartite Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve disagreements within the All Progressives Congress (APC) Tuesday failed to agree on the use of direct primaries by the political parties to select candidates for elections.

The meeting, held at the State House Conference Centre, was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.The tripartite committee, made up of the executive, the legislature and the officials of the APC, failed to convince members of the National Assembly on the need to provide alternative for the direct primaries option.

Former governor of Kebbi state and a serving senator, Mr Adamu Aleiro, told State House correspondents after the meeting that the lawmakers believe that direct primary election was the way to go because it has been working for the electorate.He said what the National Assembly had done in providing for direct primary for political parties was the best for the country

Speaking against the call by APC governors for the lawmakers to dump the provision, Aliero said the National Assembly cannot be coerced to change its position.“On this, we cannot be coerced to change our position,” he said.

Also speaking after the meeting, Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi state said the fear of the executive arm of government was the lack of alternative in the Electoral Bill if the direct primaries fail.He said the final decision on the matter rests with President Muhammadu Buhari, stressing that the President would decide whether to assent to the Electoral Bill as passed by lawmakers or return it to the National Assembly.

The governor said if the president decides to return the bill, it would not be the first time, adding that if he assents to the bill, the governors would have no choice but to work for its implementation.

“This is the Tripartite Committee set up by the the President being the executive, the legislature and our great party to ensure that every topical issue that affects the people of this country at various arms of government is well discussed by the party and taken good decision in the best interest of everybody,” he said.

On whether the governors are comfortable with the decision of the lawmakers, he said: “I don’t think any governor or anybody whatsoever as far as APC is concerned is afraid or has any reservations as far as our participation is concerned. The only concern is the implication of having only one option. In case an option fails what happen? If for instance now, INEC set a date for election and you can’t shift, what do you do. And if circumstance beyond control arises what do we do?”

On if the decision to insert direct primary in the Electoral Bill can still be changed, he stated: “In their own wisdom nobody’s going to meddle into affairs of the legislature. So, whatever decision they have taken, if it is in the interest of the people so be it. If in their own wisdom that is how they want it, so, be it.”

Asked whether the governors would accept the direct primary, he said it is up to the President to decide what becomes of it.“Whatever the legislature will pass and is acceptable by the executive, then everybody will have to buy in and make sure it works. It is yet to be signed into law. So, we’re waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari, the commander in chief. Once it’s signed into law, then we will make sure it works. If he does not, then it will be returned to the National Assembly or whatever action that can be taken. If it is returned to the National Assembly, it will not be the first of such bill to be returned. If it is assented to in the wisdom of the President, so be it, we will all work to ensure that it works,” he said.