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Challenged by current realities, the leadership of the All Progressives Congress (APC) has concluded plans to make direct primaries – choosing party candidates through voting by all members – optional.

THISDAY learnt that two major reasons were behind the decision, namely, the fear of a backlash from insistence on direct primaries, considering the closeness of elections, and the cost implication of involving all members in primary elections.

Consequently, the APC leadership, at a recent National Working Committee (NWC) meeting, decided to throw the issue open, thereby leaving the choice of what method to embrace to the leaders of the party at the state level, in most cases, the governors.

Although the APC leadership had planned to use direct primary to elect all its candidates for the 2019 general election, it reckoned that the choice came with consequences, which, if not managed properly, could hurt the party at the polls.

However, with the open option already accepted and tacitly supported by the NWC, the National Executive Committee (NEC) of the party is expected to meet this Thursday to consider the development.

A top APC leader and NWC member, who pleaded anonymity, confirmed that the NWC had earlier considered adopting the direct primary election method as against the indirect or delegate system. The source said most members of the NWC supported the direct primary election method based on its successful experimentation during the recent Osun State governorship primary.

Similarly, for the same reason, the source said APC National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole and other members of the NWC had met for four consecutive days last week, trying to take a position on the issue and other concerns in the party.

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While the meeting was meant to deliberate on how to approach next month’s primaries and avoid any crisis that might lead to further defections, those pushing for direct primary believed it would act as a mechanism to check the antics of some of the governors and leaders bent on sustaining their hold on party structures.

But a few days to the NEC meeting, where a decision on the method to adopt for the primaries would be finally made, the leadership of APC started to have a rethink, considering the processes involved in organising a direct primary as well its huge financial involvement.

The source said given the deliberations at their previous meetings with Oshiomhole, the party might eventually revert to the delegate method for its primaries, although as an optional method, depending on the disposition of the states.