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APC Leadership, States Tango Over Mode of Primaries

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Muhammadu Buhari
  • APC Leadership, States Tango Over Mode of Primaries

A decision by the National Working Committee of the All Progressives Congress to clarify the position of the party leadership on the method to be adopted for the selection of party candidates has set off a flurry of activities which some observers say is threatening the party’s cohesion.

An announcement by the acting National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Yekini Nabena, that the party’s National Executive Committee, which is its second highest decision-making body, opted for direct primaries for all elections was all that was required to set off a chain of events, which the party is still grappling to control.

While listing the benefits of the direct primary method, Nabena said, among others that “It will eliminate the possibility of corruption, gives all party members a say on the choice of candidates and helps deepen democracy.”

Plateau State Governor, Simon Lalong, had, in company with his Kogi State counterpart, Yahaya Bello, told reporters that it was agreed at the NEC meeting that the direct primary option should be adopted for the presidential nomination only and that states were allowed to choose any other option allowed by the party’s constitution that best suited their peculiarities.

The APC Constitution (October 2014 as amended), makes provisions for three options of selecting candidates for the elective offices. The first is the consensus method, which entails candidates agreeing among themselves to field one from within their ranks for the position they are seeking to occupy.

Where this fails, the constitution provides for the option of an election, which could either be through the direct or indirect method.

An Enugu State stalwart of the APC, Osita Okechukwu said, “President Muhammadu Buhari has, since joining politics, identified with the people, who, by the way, have always been his major source of strength.

“The decision of the party’s NEC to opt for direct primary, which is designed to return power to the people, has always received Mr. President’s blessing because if any aspirant is popular, he or she should not be afraid of going to party members to first seek their endorsement to contest. This will also give the party an idea into its membership base and strength; it is also like a mock election.”

The APC’s National Vice-Chairman (North-East), Salihu Mustapha, however, sees things differently. He explained that while the direct primary method was desirable, there were conditions which ought to be met before it could be adopted in states.

He said, “States have their peculiarities. While it would be easy to adopt direct primary for local elections in the wards, and maybe, local government, it would be a different ball game when it involved the election of members of the National Assembly or for the position of governor because of the logistics required.

An Abuja-based public affairs commentator, Jude Nwadibia, observed that in Nigerian politics, the more things changed, the more they remained the same.

According to him, as in the 16 years during which the Peoples Democratic Party governed, very little, if anything, has changed in the way political parties deal with issues of who calls the shots within the party.

Nwadibia said, “The battle for the ticket of the PDP at any level back then was fiercer than the election proper. I don’t see anything happening differently from this in the APC, largely because the PDP and the APC are two sides of the same coin.

“If you remember, after 1999, PDP primaries were more acrimonious than the elections which followed subsequently. The reason was simple. Party members aspiring for elective offices felt once you secured the party’s ticket, the party leadership at all levels would do the rest and you were almost always certain to win because the party’s rigging machine was available to ensure all ticket holders got into office.”

The Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative and Advocacy Centre, Auwual Musa, who agreed with this postulation, said, “State governors, who have become accustomed to controlling the system of distributing patronage at the state level, have perfected the art of taking the control to a new level by ensuring that only their loyalists were given control of the party structure at least in their states.”

He also expressed the opinion that it would have been business as usual within the APC if not for the crisis the party was currently involved with against its members at the National Assembly.

He pointed out that the fight over re-election and control of the party structure at the state level, which pitted state governors against federal legislators, was largely responsible for the upsurge in inter-party disputes currently raging within the APC.

Musa added, “The party leadership has been caught in the middle. It has to decide between bowing to pressure from the party’s powerful governors and satisfying the agitation of their members, especially those at the National Assembly, who are demanding a level playing field to contest in the 2019 elections.”

A member of the House of Representatives during the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, on his part, dismissed the rancour over the APC’s mode of primaries, describing it as simply “much ado about nothing.”

He stated, “We all know why the governors would prefer the indirect method for the primary; for the simple reason that they control the party, therefore they dictate who should be the delegates and, of course, they wouldn’t want people who have a free mind to do what their minds tell them. It is easier for them to not only choose the delegates, they have the resources to camp these delegates in choice hotels and compromise them to do their bidding.

“Every democrat knows that a direct primary is better than an indirect one for the simple reason that a greater percentage of party members not only have a say but have their way in deciding which party member becomes the party’s standard bearer in the general elections.”

Mohammed also added, “Is it not a paradox that even within the APC, those who are the most vociferous in calling for direct primaries, especially for legislative tickets, are at the same time demanding automatic tickets?

“Their argument that because they have been loyal to the party, they should be exempted from going through the protest of political contest stands logic on its head.”

The Chairman of the Ondo State chapter of the party, Ade Adetimehin, while explaining reasons for backing indirect primaries, said, “The problem is that there is no correct data across the country for the APC members. If we leave it open, many people will just show up at the primary venue and claim to be members.

“At the moment, getting the correct record of our registered members is difficult. We have been using indirect primary since APC was formed and it has been working.

“The indirect primary is a product of the direct primary because all the registered members of the party at the ward level would assemble to elect the officers who would represent them to elect state delegates while the state delegates would elect the national officers.”

The National Chairman of one of the opposition parties, Chief Chekwas Okorie, however, noted that much as the direct primary mode was desirable and appeared to be the ideal, it was not without its own challenges.

Okorie said, “The indirect primary is easier to manage because the direct primary in an environment where party members are not paying subscriptions to become members gives room for every Tom, Dick and Harry, who is of age, who may not even be a member of the particular political party, to just go and put their names on the ward register of the party.

“The direct primary means all members of the party voting in the election. That can be chaotic; it can be difficult to manage.

“As populist as it may look that everybody may be given an opportunity to participate, what you will discover will happen is that the committees that will be sent to go and conduct those direct primaries at that level will simply return to their national headquarters with prepared lists of candidates and this will create more problems than it set out to solve.”

According to him, the sheer logistics it will require to ensure things are done properly is something that ought to have been prepared for long before.

He pointed out that there was no system that could not be compromised but that chances could be reduced to the minimum when managers of the process demonstrated sincerity of purpose.

The party chairman had a grim prediction on what would become of most of the leading political parties which chose the direct primary option.

He said, “Be assured that the rancour that will follow this chaotic system will consume some of these parties.”

Only time shall tell if his prediction will come to pass.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Government

COVID-19 Vaccine: African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) to Purchase 270 Million Doses for Nigeria, Other African Nations

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African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) Approves $2 Billion for the Purchase of 270 million Doses for African Nations

African Export-Import Bank (Afrexim) said it has approved $2 billion for the purchase of 270 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations, including Nigeria.

Prof. Benedict Oramah, the President of the Bank, disclosed this at a virtual Africa Soft Power Series held on Tuesday.

He, however, stated that the lender is looking to raise more funds for the COVID-19 vaccines’ acquisition.

He said: “The African Union knows that unless you put the virus away, your economy can’t come back. If Africa didn’t do anything, it would become a COVID-19 continent when other parts of the world have already moved on.
“Recall that it took seven years during the heat of HIV for them to come to Africa after 12 million people had died.

“With the assistance of the AU, we were able to get 270 million vaccines and financing need of about $2 billion. Afreximbank then went ahead to secure the $2 billion. But that money for the 270 million doses could only add 15 per cent to the 20 per cent that Covax was bringing.

He added that this is not the time to wait for handouts or free vaccines as other countries will naturally sort themselves out before African nations.

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China Calls for Better China-U.S. Relations

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China Calls for China-U.S. Relations

Senior Chinese diplomat Wang Yi said on Monday the United States and China could work together on issues like climate change and the coronavirus pandemic if they repaired their damaged bilateral relationship.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang, a Chinese state councillor and foreign minister, said Beijing stood ready to reopen constructive dialogue with Washington after relations between the two countries sank to their lowest in decades under former president Donald Trump.

Wang called on Washington to remove tariffs on Chinese goods and abandon what he said was an irrational suppression of the Chinese tech sector, steps he said would create the “necessary conditions” for cooperation.

Before Wang spoke at a forum sponsored by the foreign ministry, officials played footage of the “ping-pong diplomacy” of 1972 when an exchange of table tennis players cleared the way for then U.S. President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Wang urged Washington to respect China’s core interests, stop “smearing” the ruling Communist Party, stop interfering in Beijing’s internal affairs and stop “conniving” with separatist forces for Taiwan’s independence.

“Over the past few years, the United States basically cut off bilateral dialogue at all levels,” Wang said in prepared remarks translated into English.

“We stand ready to have candid communication with the U.S. side, and engage in dialogues aimed at solving problems.”

Wang pointed to a recent call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden as a positive step.

Washington and Beijing have clashed on multiple fronts including trade, accusations of human rights crimes against the Uighur Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region and Beijing’s territorial claims in the resources-rich South China Sea.

The Biden administration has, however, signalled it will maintain pressure on Beijing. Biden has voiced concern about Beijing’s “coercive and unfair” trade practices and endorsed of a Trump administration determination that China has committed genocide in Xinjiang.

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U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

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President Trump Signs Executive Order In Oval Office Of The White House

U.S. Supreme Court Allows Release of Trump Tax Returns

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday paved the way for a New York City prosecutor to obtain former President Donald Trump’s tax returns and other financial records as part of a criminal investigation, a blow to his quest to conceal details of his finances.

The justices without comment rebuffed Trump’s request to put on hold an Oct. 7 lower court ruling directing the former Republican president’s longtime accounting firm, Mazars USA, to comply with a subpoena to turn over the materials to a grand jury convened by Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, a Democrat.

“The work continues,” Vance said in a statement issued after the court’s action.

Vance had previously said in a letter to Trump’s lawyers that his office would be free to immediately enforce the subpoena if the justices rejected Trump’s request.

A lawyer for Trump did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority included three Trump appointees, had already ruled once in the dispute, last July rejecting Trump’s broad argument that he was immune from criminal probes as a sitting president.

Unlike all other recent U.S. presidents, Trump refused during his four years in office to make his tax returns public. The data could provide details on his wealth and the activities of his family real-estate company, the Trump Organization.

Trump, who left office on Jan. 20 after being defeated in his Nov. 3 re-election bid by Democrat Joe Biden, continues to face an array of legal issues concerning his personal and business conduct.

Vance issued a subpoena to Mazars in August 2019 seeking Trump’s corporate and personal tax returns from 2011 to 2018. Trump’s lawyers sued to block the subpoena, arguing that as a sitting president, Trump had absolute immunity from state criminal investigations.

The Supreme Court in its July ruling rejected those arguments but said Trump could raise other objections to the subpoena. Trump’s lawyers then argued before lower courts that the subpoena was overly broad and amounted to political harassment, but U.S. District Judge Victor Marrero in August and the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in October rejected those claims.

Vance’s investigation, which began more than two years ago, had focused on hush money payments that the president’s former lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen made before the 2016 election to two women – adult-film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal – who said they had sexual encounters with Trump.

In recent court filings, Vance has suggested that the probe is now broader and could focus on potential bank, tax and insurance fraud, as well as falsification of business records.

In separate litigation, the Democratic-led U.S. House of Representatives was seeking to subpoena similar records. The Supreme Court in July sent that matter back to lower courts for further review.

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