The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, has promised that the ruling party will conduct free and fair primaries in Edo and Ondo states.
Speaking in a meeting on Sunday with eight APC governors over the forthcoming governorship primaries in the states, Tinubu said the APC will not neglect democratic primaries which he said is a core element of internal democracy.
The former Lagos governor also urged the party leadership to organise a democratic primary and safeguard it in the preparation for the choice of the flag bearers.
The party chieftain added that all aspirants should go for primaries to test their popularity, adding that, through that free and fair selection process, the ruling party will successfully build a strong democratic culture.
Reacting to the governors’ statement that the party had promised to grant the incumbents, Godwin Obaseki and Rotimi Akeredolu, the right of first refusal, Tinubu said that once other party members indicate interest, the democratic thing to do in the circumstances would be to allow the primaries to hold.
He noted that it would be difficult to hold down the ambition of other party faithful, advising them to come to terms with the possibility of intra-party contests in the two states.
It was gathered that the governors favour the indirect primary, but the national leader was said to have told them to recognise the constitutional right of the National Working Committee (NWC) to organise direct primaries, which he supports.
Tinubu cited the presidential primaries that produced President Muhammadu Buhari as well as Oyetola in Osun and Sanwo-Olu in Lagos. He said the direct primaries give the candidates and the party the opportunity to test their electoral machinery and popularity, saying once a candidate emerges through that process, the general election becomes much easier.
He, however, assured them that whichever one the national secretariat of the party approves, he would prevail on the leadership to ensure that the process is free and fair to all the aspirants.
The governors, who met with Tinubu were the Chairman of the Progressives Governors’ Forum, Senator Atiku Bagudu (Kebbi), Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje (Kano), Alhaji Sani Bello (Niger), Muhammad Abubakar (Jigawa).
Others are Solomon Lalong (Plateau), Alhaji Adegboyega Oyetola (Osun), Mr. Godwin Obaseki (Edo), Chief Rotimi Akeredolu (Ondo) and their host, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu.