Senator Sola Adeyeye, a former Senate Chief Whip, has debunked an insinuation that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was opposed to the direct primaries option adopted for the All Progressive Congress (APC) at an expanded Tripartite Committee meeting of the party he presided over on Tuesday.
Prof Adeyeye, a stalwart of the ruling APC, currently representing the people of Osun Central at the Senate, said, any attempt to controvert Osinbajo’s stand on the direct primaries for party, would amount to revisionist rendition of what took place at the meeting.
Reacting, Prof Adeyeye said: “This is a revisionist rendition of what took place at the meeting. I have spoken with three persons that were present at the meeting. VeePee Osinbajo did not oppose Direct Primaries. As Chairman of the meeting, his role was conciliatory – steering disagreeing members of the same party from becoming disagreeable. Those rushing to towns with tales of their own creation do a disservice to the public and our Republic.”
Recalled an extended tripartite committee of the All Progressives Congress (APC) held on Tuesday, where stakeholders met to discuss and resolve topical issues particularly, party primaries, after which they settled for direct primaries.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in August 2020, established a Tripartite Consultative Committee of the Executive, Legislature and Leadership of the APC with a view fostering cordial and beneficial relationship among all.
Coincidentally, the National Assembly, on Tuesday, passed the Electoral Act Amendment Bill 2021, which subscribes to political parties organising direct primaries to elect their representatives.
After the meeting, which held at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, was presided over by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with addition to members of the Tripartite Committee, which included representatives of APC governors and members of the National Assembly, the presidential adviser on political matters, Senator Babafemi Ojudu described the resolution made by members who attended the meeting as a “victory for party internal democracy.”
According to him: “Tension was high. Emotions predominated but the Vice President was able to play the role of a great conciliatory,” Ojudu said.
He hinted that, “while the younger elements in the House of Representatives were vehement and uncompromising in the expression of their preference, the Senators were calm but resolute,” adding, “the VP laid out the reasons for calling the meeting and allowed the parties to ventilate.”
In the end, Ojudu described the outcome of the meeting “as a victory for the party, the governors and the legislators,” saying, “we should commend the the party leaders for reaching an agreement in a democratic manner.”
The statement read: “I think the outcome of today’s meeting is victory for internal democracy in APC. You recall that, in his sagely wisdom, President Muhammadu Buhari had set up a tripartite mechanism to interface whenever conflicts of this nature arose between the party, the body of governors and members of the National Assembly.
“Acting on the President’s mandate, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo called today’s meeting to allow for all parties to ventilate their voices in a no-holds-barred manner. It was a family meeting. At the end, a common ground was reached, direct primaries was upheld and aspirants under our party can now go back to the people and seek endorsement rather than giving a few delegates the power to decide for all.”
Also, Kogi State Governor Yayaha Bello, who spoke with State House correspondents after the meeting, said that the critical issues were resolved.
“The takeaway is that the topical issues have been resolved; the legislature, the executive and our party; so it is a good resolution.
“I don’t think any legislator or anybody whatsoever as far as APC is concerned, is afraid or has any reservation about any mode of primaries.
“The only concern is the implication of having only one option; in case an option fails, what happens? If for instance INEC sets a date for an election and says it is sacrosanct.
“For instance, today is Sept. 9; if INEC is supposed to conduct election today and it says that the day is sacrosanct; under no circumstance should it be shifted; and a circumstance beyond your control arises, what do you do?
“It means there will be no election; then, you are calling for anarchy; that is just the only concern of our people; and I think we are taking that head on and I think we are going to be good for whatever decision that will be taken at the end of the day.’’
The governor said he belonged to the executive arm of the government and would not subscribe to meddling with the affairs of the legislature.
He said that whatever decision the legislature had taken might be taken it in the best interest of the people.
“In their own wisdom, they might have seen that there can’t be any situation that will warrant any other option and they might have come with this option of direct primaries.
“So, if in their own wisdom, that is the way they see it, so be it.
“Whenever legislature passes a law, and it is assented to by the chief executive, then we are bound by it; everybody will have to work to ensure it works,’’ Bello said.
He said that the stakeholders would wait for the president’s action of on bill.
According to him, whatever decision the president takes on bill will be binding on everybody.
“For now, this is a bill that was passed; yet to be signed into law; so, we are waiting for the leader of the party, President Muhammadu Buhari, to come; once he assents to it, then we are going to make sure it works.
“If he does not, then it returns to the National Assembly for whatever action that can be taken and if it is returned to the National Assembly, it won’t be the first of such bills that will be returned back to the National Assembly.
“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.
On his part, Sen. Adamu Aliero, (APC- Kebbi Central), said that the members of the National Assembly made it clear that they stood on the legislation passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly.
He said that the National Assembly, was returning the party back to the people.
“That is conducting direct primaries; we believe that is the only way to ensure internal democracy within the APC.
“The conduct of the congresses right from the ward level up to the state level was being hijacked by the governors.
“We felt as a remedy to this, in order to save our party; it is better we adopt direct primaries; this is the only way the party can survive and face other parties that will contest with the APC.
“We have respect for the governors; we have respect for members of the executive and we have always done their bidding but this time around we want direct primaries to stay.
“No member of the National Assembly has said no to this.’’
Aliero said he was happy that the conference committee report had been passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly–both in the Senate and the House of Representatives.
He said that the decision on direct primaries had gone very well with people at the grassroots.
“They felt that it is the best thing that can happen to our democracy.
“From 1999 to date, the only decision that has been taken by the National Assembly that is as popular as this one was when the third term was annulled.
“This direct primaries is equivalent to what the 6th Assembly did on the annulment of the 3rd Term bid by President Olusegun Obasanjo,’’ he said.”
President of the Senate, Ahmad Lawan; his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila and some members of the National Assembly Caucus of the APC, attended the meeting.
The Chairman of the APC Caretaker Committee, Gov. Mai Mala Buni of Yobe, Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum, Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, and Chairman of the APC Governors Forum, Atiku Bagudu of Kebbi State, also attended the meeting.