Abuja — Last week's decision of the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to adopt direct elections for its forthcoming congresses and Presidential primaries has widened the gulf between the state governors and other chapters of the party on one side and Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC, on the other.
Despite warnings by the party to heavily reprimand those who go contrary to its resolution, the governors, allegedly acting through their state chairmen, met yesterday in Abuja and agreed to distance themselves from the earlier decision of the National Executive Committee, NEC.
This is coming despite President Muhammadu Buhari's intervention.
At least 30 of the state chairmen were locked in a meeting at a hotel in Abuja where they were among others proposing a vote of no confidence on the Adams Oshiomhole-led National Working Committee, NWC.
The president's rebuke of those orchestrating the destabilization plot came as the APC earlier, yesterday, warned those being used to stoke the crisis to step off, warning that stern disciplinary action would be taken against them. The chairmen and a few national officers outside the NWC, Vanguard gathered were reportedly being egged on by a few governors with a two-term southern governor championing the move.
The meeting of the chairmen earlier scheduled to hold at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel Abuja was subsequently moved to Barcelona Hotel, in the heart of the federal capital. The principal aim of the meeting was to call for the dissolution of the NWC.
The southern governor, according to Vanguard sources is mobilizing to truncate the party's decision on the use of direct primary as it could jeopardize his succession agenda and also truncate the governor's own plan of proceeding to the Senate. Members of the National Executive Committee, NEC who do not belong to the NWC, it was gathered, were also mobilized to canvass for the dissolution of the Oshiomhole-led NWC.
"The president has stepped in and warned them to clear off," a senior party source said yesterday in response to the brewing crisis in the ruling party. The president, who is currently in China, was believed to have given the directive by phone to some of those pinpointed as being involved.
Remarkably, some governors involved in the plot are in the president's travelling party in China.
The governors are said to be unhappy over Oshiomhole's insistence on the use of direct primary as they allege that it would jeopardize their efforts to plant their associates as candidates in the forthcoming primaries. Governors who normally have the control of the party structures are able to through the delegates that are loyal to them able to foist their choices as candidates in elections.
Yesterday's meeting of party chairmen was temporarily put on hold when some of the state chairmen volunteered to speak with newsmen but were resisted by others, who insisted journalists vacated the meeting room.
Though journalists were barred from the meeting which was attended by over 30 state chairmen and some national officers of the party, a participant at the meeting, who pleaded not to be quoted, confirmed that the state party leaders "will do everything possible to resist imposition of direct primary" even if it meant passing a vote of no confidence on Comrade Oshiomhole-led NWC.
"Majority of the state chairmen are here and those that could not make it sent representatives. We are talking and our resolutions will be made known to the public very soon but it won't be today (Sunday) because we are still consulting and meeting," he said.
Earlier at a press conference at his Maitama residence, APC National Vice Chairman North-East, Comrade Mustapha Salihu, accused some leaders of the party from the South-West of nursing conspiracy to foster regional imperialism on the party.
"Before now I did not have any feeling that there was possibility of a conspiracy, but when I see people planting stories, I now begin to suspect foul play; if one region feels that direct primary is what is best for them, I think they can canvass that at the regional level and they now give us reasons they need that. "I want to believe that in a democracy, the majority would always have their way and the minority, their say," he had said.
It's Illegal meeting-- APC
Earlier in the day, the NWC said it was aware of plans by some people to convene an "illegal" meeting and vowed to take disciplinary measures against those behind the said meeting which was slated for noon yesterday.
Party spokesman, Yekini Nabena, said in a statement: "The attention of the National Working Committee, NWC, of All Progressives Congress, APC, has been drawn to an illegal meeting scheduled to hold on Sunday (yesterday) at Transcorp Hilton hotel in Abuja by some members of our party organs, with a view to faulting the decisions made by the NWC, followed by the National Executive Committee, NEC, as regards the mode of the party's primary elections."
APC said the meeting "which has been fixed for 2pm is illegal and an attempt to puncture the sincere efforts being made by the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole-led NWC to reposition our Party ahead the 2019 general elections and to ensure unity, equity and justice in the party.
"The outcome of such meeting which is already known will be a nullity and we admonish our members to disregard such meetings in the interest of the Party. It is illegal to call such meetings outside the purview of the constituted authority.
"The identities of those plotting such meetings have been identified and unless they desist from such they will be dealt with in line with the party's constitution at the appropriate time.
"The NWC will resist any attempt to disrupt the current peace and harmony prevailing in our great Party after the exit of some members of our party.
"We urge any member, who is not satisfied with the decisions of the party to utilise channels provided by the party's constitution to air their views.
"We remain focused in delivering good governance to Nigerians.