Often, politics is all about selfish interest, even when masquerading as national interest. A former Senator in Abuja once told the story of an academic pursuit at Harvard for some top politicians from around the world. A female professor gave an assignment and sought to know from them what was at the back of their minds as political office holders.
When they turned in their papers, she concluded they were all wrong. They all went on about how they wanted to touch the lives of their constituents positively, blah, blah, blah.
To her, as the Senator told the story, politicians are usually more preoccupied with how to win the next election than the needs of their constituents.
That, perhaps, is the reason for the agreement between the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the clause on direct primaries in the Electoral Bill passed on Tuesday by National Assembly. They want direct primaries removed from the bill and primaries left to parties to determine.
A peek into the remarks by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, at the APC Enlarged Tripartite Committee meeting at the seat of the Presidency in Abuja on Tuesday, tells the story of the behind-the-scenes disagreement between Governors and Federal lawmakers.
It’s my pleasure to welcome you to this meeting which has, in addition to the usual members of the Tripartite Committee established by his Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, we also have representatives of the APC Governors as well as members of our Party in the National Assembly.
The Tripartite Committee as we know was conceived by his Excellency, the President, as a way of ensuring a cordial and beneficial relationship between the Executive, Legislative branches of the government on the one hand, and the Party on the other hand.
The whole idea was to ensure that whenever there are issues that require deliberations, perhaps, thorny issues, we are able to discuss them as a Tripartite Committee before taking them any further. If there’s any issue to resolve at that time, we can simply resolve it and we can move on.
We’ve had several meetings of the Tripartite Committee and many of these issues have been resolved to the benefit of our Party and to the benefit of our government.
But at about a couple of meetings, about three previous meetings of the Tripartite Committee, the issue of the proposal first by the House of Representatives and then the Senate, to restrict the conduct of primaries of parties to only direct primaries came up.
The reason as it emerged from our discussions at the Tripartite Committee was that some legislators felt that party congresses had been completely taken over by State Governments and other legislators and they, as stakeholders stood no chance of a fair contest in the primaries if all potential delegates and actors have already been spoken for.
We then decided at the last meeting of the Tripartite Committee, (because these issues, problems, and sides were laid before us) to call an expanded meeting where the leadership of the National Assembly, Governors and all other stakeholders that are present here would be able to deliberate on those issues and hopefully find solutions that would be acceptable to all, but, most importantly, that would work in the interest of our Party especially as we go into the elections come 2023.
Other speakers after me will elaborate further on the issue but I want to urge all present that in the course of our discussions today we should seek to find solutions highlighting the pathways to an amicable resolution.
Most of us who are here are probably familiar with what the problems are, what we really want are solutions. If everybody takes time to speak again about all the issues and rehash everything, we won’t leave here. I really think that it’s important that we’re able to get quickly to the issues and resolve them in a way that would be satisfactory.
I think at this period more than ever, we need peace and concord within our Party and I hope this meeting would mark a new beginning in that direction, and I hope at the conclusion of this meeting we’ll only have good things to report to Mr. President.
Thank you all very much for taking the time to come.