By Andy Esiet, Calabar
Faced with challenges of consensus, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Cross River state may adopt direct primaries to elect its candidates for the 2023 elections just as all aspirants in various positions are to pay dues of between N100,000 and N1 million to the party in the state.
The party had spent the whole of last week trying to talk the array of aspirants in various positions to accept consensus but that seems to have failed as most of the aspirants prefer going to the field to meet the APC electorates or delegates ward by ward.
Reports in the social media had quoted the APC State Chairman, Mr. Alphonsus Eba to have allegedly said that, APC aspirants who are not ready to submit themselves to the decision of the party to use the process of consensus for the emergence of the APC candidates in the coming party primaries to either quit the party and join other parties which could use them as candidates or decide to form their own parties as in APC, the decision of the party is supreme.
Some concerned APC aspirants in an unsigned statement rejected this position saying “the Electoral Law, 2022 provisions for a consensus candidate, demand for all the aspirants to agree in writing to support the chosen party consensus candidate. But, if one or more of the aspirants refused to agree in writing to support the chosen party consensus candidate, the party must either choose direct or indirect primaries to produce their Party Candidates”.
It was gathered that the choice of direct primaries makes it easier for manipulation even though the process could be expensive for aspirants.
They also rejected the statement accredited to the APC State Chairman and signed by the APC State Publicity Secretary, Mr. Erasmus Ekpang directing all APC aspirants from State House of Assembly to the office of Presidential aspirants respectively to make payments to the party in the state APC at designated banks ranging from: N100, 000 for all the House of Assembly, House of Representatives and Senate Aspirants as party dues. N500, 000 for Governorship aspirants as party dues and N1,000,000 for Presidential aspirants as Party Dues and every APC, aspirants in the state to pay 10 percent of the total cost of expression of interest and their nomination forms to the party in the state as administrative cost.
However Ekpang said on the issue of consensus,”we have not decided on anything yet. It may be direct primaries”.
On the issue of dues, the Publicity Secretary said, “if you come as an aspirant, you pay your own dues. Even adhoc delegates pay dues because you cannot be in a party where you need a platform to get something and you do not pay the dues of that party. It is in the constitution for anybody who wishes to argue. To an extent, the dues are discretionary through the parties in every state to be what they want with respect to whatever position you are chasing. For instance, if you are doing tax clearance, you are always working and your tax clearance cannot be more than 5-8 thousand but if you want to run elections today and you are doing tax clearance, I think it is up to N300, 000 or N400, 000. I do not know how they made it up that way but we are just following the constitution and that is how it is”.
On the news making the rounds on some online platforms quoting the State Chairman with the headline: “Form your party or decamp if not satisfied with consensus – “C/R APC Chairman to Aggrieved Aspirants”, Eba in a statement yesterday said, “the news report is totally false, unfounded and fake in its entirety. The State Chairman never granted any interview or featured in any radio program in Calabar. Neither did any other member of the Party’s State Executive grant any interview. The State Chairman, who returned to his Imaje country home on Thursday April 29, 2022, has been actively participating in the burial activities with his bosom brother and friend, Mr. John Odey Ohiero, whose late father; Pa Paul Odey Ohiero was laid to rest in his compound in Ugaga yesterday (Saturday)”.
He said “the story is not only a cheap blackmail but the handiwork of political jobbers who are sponsored to cause confusion and disaffection amongst members of our great Party. Investigations revealed that a reporter with an FM station in Calabar was said to have aired the news and another reporter with an online newspaper did the story which has been shared by other online platforms. The Party frowns at the malicious, fake and satanic story and has given the various online platforms that carried the report 24 hours to retract with an apology or meet the Party in court for libel.
“The just concluded meeting of the Party Chairman and other Executive members with various aspirants last week has rather further strengthened the unity of the Party and raised the confidence of members on the Eba-led State Executive Committee leadership. The general public and our Party members and Stakeholders should discountenance the frivolous, false and fake report and remain steadfast in the firm trust and believe in the Party and the leadership as it is committed to free, fair and transparent primaries”.