OPEN LETTER TO COMRADE ADAMS OSHIOMHOLE
OSUN 2018: WHY DIRECT PRIMARY IS UNACCEPTABLE
We have monitored with bated breath the activities of certain individuals within our party frenetically canvassing for the adoption of direct primaries in the nomination of APC candidate for the gubernatorial election coming up on the 19th day of July, 2018. We must directly point out that the agitation is nothing but an effort towards imposing the preferred aspirant of certain leaders of the party and some persons in the government of Osun. The scheme is either to rig the election and/or force an impossibility on the Party so as to impose their candidate.
In the first place, it is indisputable that such method of primary election has never been applied anywhere in our Party in any situation where there are more than one person contesting for the ticket of the party. It is certain that a total of 17 persons has been shown to have bought and submitted nomination forms and have been screened for the purpose of participating in the primary election coming up on the 19th day of July, 2018. In the circumstance, it is an avenue to create chaos to suggest that consensus approach would be considered save and except where all the aspirants agree that one of them should be fielded by the party.
Based on the above, it is considered imperative to state reasons why the direct primary method cannot fly. Below are the reasons:
- In the first instance, by the Constitution of All Progressives Congress, 2014 (as amended), the National Executive Committee (NEC) is the only body that can approve guidelines for conducting primary elections for the purpose of nominating candidates of the party and the extant decision of the National Executive Committee on the issue is the use of the indirect primaries. This, to the best of our knowledge, has not been revisited. Yet, your leadership is being rumoured to be dancing to the cacophonous tunes played by certain individuals calling for direct primaries. (See Article 20(v) of APC Constitution, 2014 (as amended).
- It must also be remembered that it requires a minimum of seven days’ notice to convene an emergency NEC meeting to approve a National Working Committee’s recommendation to issue guidelines for nomination of candidates which again is not possible within the time left before the primary election for Osun State gubernatorial election on the 19th day of July, 2018.
- By Section 85 (1) of the Electoral Act, 2010 (as amended), INEC is supposed to be given 21 days’ notice in order to be able to effectively monitor the primary election of every party. Assuming without conceding that such notice has been given to INEC, it means INEC would have to deploy a minimum of 332 officials to monitor the primary election of APC in all the constitutionally recognised 332 Wards in Osun. Where is the logistics support? So if other parties adopt a similar method for their primaries, INEC would have to deploy the same number of staff to monitor their primaries!
- Furthermore, it requires a credible membership register to conduct a direct primary election which is absent today in Osun State. It is on record, and this is indisputable, that we do not have any credible register of members with required means of proving authenticity.
- Assuming without conceding the possibility of adopting direct primaries, before this can be adopted, it is necessary to issue Wards registers of members to all aspirants who would have the opportunity to study same and confirm the authenticity thereof before any credible poll can be effectively organized. There must also be sufficient room for complaints before the poll is organized as regards anomalies that may be discovered in the registers. It is certain that the time left can never be sufficient to carry out this indispensable exercise before the 19th day of July, 2018.
- It is the law and the convention that no political party would go into any election without having been given voters’ registers that would be used for and prior to the election. This equally applies to aspirants who are to contest primary elections as there must be exhibition of membership registers in order to fish out illegal insertions or emergency members manufactured by powers that be.
- It is only in our party, APC, that less than five days to the primary election, some people are attempting to impose a shift in the goal post in the middle of the game without credible guidelines having been put in place and without any notice whatsoever to other stakeholders. Till this moment, the leaders of our party have not consulted any aspirant as to the mode by which the primary election would be conducted save and except the anointed candidate of the government in Osun and the purported regional leaders.
- It is equally the case that we are aware of activities by certain individuals in government in Osun who have printed fake membership slips for their thugs, cronies and surrogates to be paraded as lawful members of the party in order to secure victory at the primary for their anointed candidate. We are also aware of the plan of some government officials to rig the primary election by concocting results ahead of the holding of the primary.
- In addition, electoral officers to conduct such primary election for each Ward cannot be appointed by the current Party/ government officials in Osun who have openly shown their bias for a particular aspirant otherwise they would be judges in their own cause. Thus, electoral officials that would preside on the election in every of the 332 Wards in Osun must come from the national secretariat of APC to guarantee neutrality and must be picked with the consent of all candidates as the local executives cannot be the ones to do this since as delegates for the purpose of indirect primary, they already have their preferences.
- If Your Excellency’s antecedent is anything to go by, it would be disappointing to note that few days to the primary election in Osun, no credible notice is out for the mode of conducting the primary election to enable aspirants effectively prepare for same. If the mode of primaries must change and the Guidelines used for indirect primary for 2014 gubernatorial election in Osun must change, there must be sufficient notice to all stakeholders as it is known that Your Excellency would not consent to such an illegal procedure as is being currently carried out under your watch if you were to be an aspirant.
Beyond this, the representation made so far, particularly stemming from the Convention on all other States, as recent as Ekiti primary, is the use of indirect primaries. With four days to the primary, it is impossible for the party to reverse itself as it is estopped.
It must be pointed out in summary that the general public is watching what your leadership is doing and would be glad to know that this litmus test for your administration is carried out without blemish. Again, it is to be noted that any contravention of the Party Constitution as well as the Electoral Act can only lead to the nullification of our Party primary and, by extension, our eventual candidature. It is hoped that the party leadership will not, by dancing to the tune of some self-acclaimed leaders, endanger the interest of our candidate, and by extension, the Party in general. We shall appreciate a decision resisting injustice and perpetuating internal democracy within our party.
Adekunle Oduola, a chieftain of the APC. He lives in Osogbo.