Minister of State for Education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, has tasked political parties, especially the All Progressives Congress (APC) to adopt a different approach to the conduct of party primaries to avoid a repeat of the crisis that is currently rocking the party as a result of the conduct of the 2018 party primaries ahead of the 2019 general elections.
The Minister advised the party to adopt a method of first screening aspirants who expressed their interest to contest the party and sell nomination forms to only those they found to have met the party guideline and therefore qualified to contest the primaries for the party ticket.
He also admonished the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to adopt a different method of election by staggering voting process across several days to ensure that everybody is allowed to participate in the process, pointing out that this will erase the current trend of election rigging and manipulations.
Speaking to the leadership of the APC Aspirant Forum led by its National Coordinator, Lt. Col. Abdulaziz Yar’adua. Nwajiuba stressed that if the party allow only those who scaled through the screening after the expressing their interest to go to the next stage of nomination, crisis arising from disqualification from contesting the primaries after paying huge amount of money will be a thing of the past.
He said “I have been contesting election since 1992 and for 27 years we have been running election the same way. Nobody has said let us reformat. We are the ones who said this our principles. Cant we enact policies around them?
“Why do you have parties that sells you form and you cant trace them? We can also have a situation where we do screening and only those who win can go and pay. What s wrong in that? If you express your interest, we evaluate you and if we don want you, we tell you not to continue after that stage.”
Nwajiuba associated the crisis that rocked the party before, during and after the last party primaries to a carry over from the events of 2015 that were not properly handled and the fact that the party leadership was not properly settled to understand the party machineries after the national convention.
He said “what happened was a carry over from what happened in 2015. When we were designing the forms for the 2018 primaries, there were mistakes at the level of the convention. The convention ended and we went into an election and the National Organising Secretary had not taken charge sufficiently the matter of how to run the primaries.
“This was very fundamental in the way it was delivered. The nature of our democracy viz a vis the sociological frame work it was supposed to operate are taken for granted in Nigeria.
“There is a mid term convention of the party coming up. The issue is, when are we going to agitate for a mid term convention, how do we expand the working space to include other opinion. There are sensitive offices we may have to ask them to bring in women.
“The next agenda for APC must be project Nigeria. How do we sustain all progressives, how do we take the idea of projecting 100 million people out of poverty and progressing into the next stage of development.
“ So, ahead of the 2021 md term convention, how do we engage the party, how do we restructure the party to function better. Governance function around four things. Principles being driven into policies, policies being driven into programmes and programmes being driven into projects. We said we are progressives and that means we are principled minded people and so, we want the welfare of the largest number in an all inclusive scenario. That is what everybody professes.”
While commending members of the forum for standing by the party, he told them that after losing out in the primary process of the party, “we pleaded with the President to engage some members and in his nature, he does not want to halt anybody. When we met with the President, we felt that some of the cases that can be redressed should be redress and those who can gone their own should do that.
“I did some extra work because we had an understanding which was in the interest of Nigeria. We felt that the right thing that the south east would get was the Speaker of the House of Representatives and so, I went and did the extra work to make sure that I am available to be used for that purpose.
“The work you did for the party is the reason why we are here and we are grateful to you and the rest of the country. Those who are still with us in the party should know that we are no longer aggrieved aspirants. We have arrived at the next level because that thing for which we were aggrieved, we have arrived at it. But we have arrived at it in different capacities. We are the generation next.
“As progressives, it is our duty to act as the conscience. We now know how other people might feel in case this is done to them. The only thing we owe ourselves is to have learnt from this collective experience and then improve on it because if we don’t, the lessons learnt will be completely lost.
“In this business, find out what is wrong with the process before you amend them. So, for the party, there is a lot of work to be done. That is what we should begin to do now and strategise around them.”
Speaking earlier, the National Coordinator of the Forum, Lt. Col. Abdulaziz Yar’adua (rtd) told the Minister that they have resolved to work with the leadership of the Party and President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure that the President leaves a lasting legacy including retaining the Presidency in 2013
He said their major concern right now was for the President to leave a lasting legacy behind for the nation and ensuring that the APC retain power in 2023, adding that “if the APC does not retain power in 2023, all the legacy of the President will go to waste”.