The meeting of the Tripartite Committee set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to resolve disagreements in the All Progressives Congress, APC, Tuesday ended in a deadlock as it failed to agree on the use of direct primaries by parties to select their candidates.
The meeting which was held at the Old Banquet Hall of the presidential villa, Abuja, was chaired by Vice Yemi Osinbajo.
The tripartite committee is made up of the Executive, the Legislature and the APC executive.
It was reliably gathered that the committee could not convince members of the National Assembly on the need to provide alternative for the direct primary option.
The members of the National Assembly at the meeting insisted that direct primary was the way to go as they argued that it had been working for the electorate.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the meeting, a former governor of Kebbi state and serving senator, Adamu Aleiro, said what the National Assembly had done in providing for direct primary for parties is the best for the country
Speaking against the call by APC governors to dump the provision, he maintained that the National Assembly had been cooperating with the Executive saying that “but on this, we cannot be coerced to change our position.”
However, also speaking after the meeting, Kogi state governor said the fear of the Executive is the lack of alternative provided in case the direct primaries fails.
He said the final decision on the matter rests with President Buhari who he noted will decide whether to assent to the Electoral Bill or return it to the National Assembly.
The governor said if the president decides to return the bill, it will not be the first time, adding that if he assents to the bill, the governors will have no choice but to work for its implementation.
According to him,“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.”
On whether the governors were comfortable with the decision of the lawmakers, he added: “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 happened?
“If for instance now, INEC sets a date for election and you can’t shift it, what would you do? And if circumstance beyond control arises what do we do?”
Asked if the decision to insert direct primary in the Electoral Bill can still be changed, he said, “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 will accept the direct primary, he said it was up to the President to decide what becomes of it.
He added: “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.”
Meanwhile the Political Special Adviser to the President, Office of the Vice President, Babafemi Ojudu, said tension was high at the meeting but that the Vice President managed the situation.
In his verified Facebook handle, with the title, “Direct/Indirect Primaries Controversy”, Ojudu said younger elements in the House of Representatives were vehement and uncompromising in the expression of their preference, the Senators were calm but resolute.
He wrote: “The resolution tonight of tripartite meeting is victory for party internal democracy.
“Tension was high. Emotions predominated but the Vice President was able to play the role of a great conciliator.
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.
“The VP laid out the reasons for calling the meeting and allowed the parties to ventilate
“It was a victory for the party, the governors and the legislators. We should commend the the party leaders for reaching an agreement in a democratic manner.
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. “