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How PDP ‘Snatched’ Senate From APC


Findings show that four reasons were responsible for the massive defection drama that happened in the two chambers of the National Assembly. Case in point: Ruling All Progressives (APC), on Tuesday, June 24 saw more than a dozen of its senators and 37 members of the House of Reps defect to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

The first reason, insiders told Daily Trust Saturday, was the outright display of ego by “few ambitious politicians” in the National Assembly, who were looking for higher positions, and could only achieve this by challenging the status quo. Secondly, a revolt by other lawmakers who feel suffocated by governors in their states, and would most likely lose their seats between August and October this year, when primary elections must have wrapped up.

The third reason, according to insiders, is perceived lethargy of ruling APC, which failed to manage its success and assert its power through entrenching discipline from the day it took over power on 29th May, 2015. And when Adams Oshiomhole took over the mantle of leadership recently, he was only able to cover little ground in terms of mending fences because the problems are overwhelming. The fourth reason, according to some major players, is what they described as President Muhammadu Buhari’s “I-don’t-care attitude” to party politics, alleging he has reneged his responsibility as ‘father to all’. This disposition, according to them, provided the breeding ground which allowed crisis to fester in APC chapters in more than 30 states in the country.

Most personalities spoken to by Daily Trust Saturday believe that had it been President Buhari had played the role he did in the past week, about a year or two ago - which included directly meeting with aggrieved members and attentively listening to their genuine grievances and resolving them - he and the APC would have been harvesting more followers, rather than many.

According to them, the “powers” Buhari gave Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu some months ago to reconcile with aggrieved members only succeeded in one area, which is keeping the South West intact in the APC, and nothing more.

It is believed that even this feat was only achieved because politicians from that part of the country have gotten everything they need in terms of projects and appointments in the present political reality, and would most likely be the biggest beneficiaries in 2013 when power shifts to the South.

Drama galore

APC sources said President Buhari was actually not aware of the last-minute scheming by the inner circle of people around him to checkmate what Saraki and Dogara wanted to do between Tuesday and Thursday. For instance, it was gathered that he did not approve the involvement of the police to block Saraki’s convoy, the siege on Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu’s home, the invitation of the two officers by the police the previous night, and the plan to change the leadership of the National Assembly.

Though Senator Abu Ibrahim (APC, Katsina), who is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Police Affairs and an ardent supporter of President Buhari, had dismissed a claim that there were moves to remove Saraki as Senate President and Dogara as Speaker of the House of Reps through shady ways, he admitted soon after the defections that they a lot was done to checkmate the Tsunami that was looming over the National Assembly.

Senator Ibrahim, who is the chairman of Buhari Support Group (BSG), said “The impeachment process of the president (by Saraki-led Senate) should have started Thursday. We know they were planning, and they realized we know. They knew that if they had remained up till today (Wednesday), a lot of things would have happened,” he said.

Another source said with this in view, on the day of the defections, the pro-Buhari senators had also completed plans to use the instruments of the state, including the DSS and the police to “forcefully” remove both Saraki and Dogara as presiding officers.

“That was what actually informed the siege on Saraki convoy, to stop him from getting to the National Assembly. Unknown to the police, he did not even sleep in his house in Maitama,” the source said.

But another source said members of the pro-Buhari group were not deterred when they realized that he was not in the convoy. “They actually wanted to force their way to remove him even while Saraki was in the gallery. However, when President Buhari heard what was happening, he reprimanded the high-profile security heads, and they all backed out. That was how the drama ended, and realizing the implications of what would have happened, Saraki read out the list of prospective defectors even though some had not finally decided to leave with him. It was the same thing at the House of Reps,” he said.

It was gathered that aside the efforts to woo back the defectors, there are spirited machinations to effect leadership change at the Upper Chambers to give the ruling party firm control of parliament. Also, sources said two names are being considered as the likely replacement of Saraki, should the plot to oust him succeeds.

The Chairman of the Parliament Support Group (PSG) for President Buhari in the Senate, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, said: “If Saraki refuses to move, we will move him,” meaning by the time they resume from recess in September, the drama will continue. Though Saraki and Dogara have not formally defected, the writing in the wall shows that it is just a matter of time, as they must have a firm platform ahead of party primaries for elective positions which will commence on August 18, and end on October 7.

Saraki and Dogara: Blameless?

But a source close to both Saraki and Dogara said the two presiding officers are both “victims of circumstance”. The source, who does not want to be mentioned because of the sensitive position he holds, said: “When you look at the situation critically, it is a battle for survival; it is some people that were fighting Saraki and not Buhari but sadly, the president refused to reprimand them. And for the fact that Saraki is also ambitious, he used the opportunity to fight back. Buhari would have solved all the problems bedevilling the APC family by simply holding meetings with aggrieved members. Of course, he cannot stop some disgruntled people from going, like Kwankwaso and Sokoto governor Aminu Tambuwal, but he could’ve made peace with Saraki.”

Defective defections?

Despite the defection of 14 lawmakers out of the APC to the PDP and ADC, the ruling party still maintains a slim majority in the Red Chamber, while the defections of 37 members of the House of Reps did not also take away the majority status of the APC.

As things stand, the APC has 53 senators, with the PDP having 50, while two are for APGA and ADC, respectively, with two other seats vacated as a result of the demise of senators Ali Wakili and Mustapha Bukar. But frantic efforts are on to forestall the movement of additional senators out of the party, while those who left are being impressed upon to return. Such efforts may have started yielding results, as one of the defected senators, Lanre Tejuoso from Ogun State, who attended the meeting between Buhari and 42 APC senators on Wednesday night, told the president that, “Your son has returned home.”

Just like Tejuoso returned, others too might, with the right kind of reconciliation, insiders say. The body language of Senator Shehu Sani from Kaduna State also shows that with just a promise for his ticket, he might not leave the APC. He too had attended the meeting held with Buhari.

The PDP has said it would manage its successes in the wake of mass defection to its fold by being fair and transparent with both the existing and returning members. The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, told Daily Trust Saturday that the returnees were not neophytes, but heavyweight politicians.

In the meantime, the PDP’s grand snatch of the National Assembly remains a masterstroke. But the reality, especially in politics, is like one source posited: “Who knows tomorrow?”

Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, Kano:

Until Tuesday, he was a member of the APC with a three-year feud between him and his former deputy, current governor, Abdullahi Umar Ganduje.

Kwankwaso’s major grievance is the fact that he along with his teeming supporters in the Kwankwasiyya Movement had been side-lined by the Gandujiyya faction. When the party’s congresses held recently, Kwankwaso was not given any chance to produce a single party official. His seat in the Senate is said to have been ceded to another person in the party.

Again, Kwankwaso has an ambition to be president, and feels that with Buhari on the saddle in the APC, he could not pick the party’s ticket. He’s also mindful of the fact that by 2023 when Buhari completes his second term, the spotlight will move to the South.

Reportedly, during a meeting on Monday with the president, ahead of his defection, Kwankwaso had after listening to Buhari, expressed shock that it seems the president is not aware of the problems in Kano. “Remember, I had audience with you three times on this matter, and you failed to take action,” Kwankwaso was quoted as saying during the meeting. He left the APC together with about ten House of Reps members from Kano.

Isa Hamma Misau & Nazif Gamawa, Bauchi:

Misau and Gamawa are both from Bauchi State. Shortly after the APC took over power at both federal and state levels, Misau and Gamawa had a clash with Governor Mohammed Abubakar, including almost all federal lawmakers from the state.

Misau, a former police officer, later extended his scathing criticism and attacks to the Buhari-led government at the centre.

In the case of Gamawa, who chairs the Senate Committee on Electoral Matters, his role in the rejected bill that sought to change elections sequence in the country was seen as an attack on Buhari.

Suleiman Hunkuyi, Kaduna:

Senator Hunkuyi’s political fight with Governor Nasiru el-Rufai is well-known. He, along with Senator Shehu Sani, parted ways with the governor over two years ago. Hunkuyi, with his APC Akida faction in the state dumped el-Rufai. It then culminated in Hunkuyi’s defection to the PDP on Tuesday. Although observers say bringing him back may be difficult, it is possible to have him re-join in an atmosphere of reconciliation.

Ubale Shittu, Jigawa:

Shittu, from Jigawa State, has been having a running battle with Governor Muhammadu Badaru, and he quickly aligned himself with the Saraki’s camp at the centre to spite both Buhari and his state governor.

A ranking senator recently said that Shittu is one of the few senators that are ready to do anything to please Saraki. But like some of the defected senators, it is believed that he too can be wooed back to the party with genuine reconciliation between him and his state governor. This scenario also applies for the likes of Rep Mohammed Sani Zorro from Jigawa State.

Barnabas Gemade, Benue:

Gemade has since fallen out with George Akume, who is said to have a firm grip of the APC structure in Benue State. Both of them are senators, but Akume appears to be more powerful when it comes to the control of APC.

Gemade, like other colleagues from Benue, is angry that the APC-led Federal Government has not been able to nip in the bud the continued killings in the state, allegedly by herdsmen in the past three years, even though the problem predates the current administration.

Barnabas Gemade, Benue:

Gemade has since fallen out with George Akume, who is said to have a firm grip of the APC structure in Benue State. Both of them are senators, but Akume appears to be more powerful when it comes to the control of APC.

Gemade, like other colleagues from Benue, is angry that the APC-led Federal Government has not been able to nip in the bud the continued killings in the state, allegedly by herdsmen in the past three years, even though the problem predates the current administration.

Dino Melaye, Kogi:

The controversial senator from Kogi State has attracted a lot of criticism in the past three years since the emergence of his godfather, Saraki, as Senate President. A former member of APC, Melaye has never seen anything good about the government, which he did not only campaign for but also fought seriously to ensure its success during the 2015 elections.

Matters got out of hand when his relationship with Governor Yahaya Bello got sour. Melaye was the chairman of the transition committee when Bello became governor-elect, but soon after swearing in, they parted ways.

Abdulaziz Nyako, Adamawa:

Senator Nyako complained about what he termed as the high level of injustice meted out on him and his supporters in the APC. He said he spent six months trying to see the former national chairman of APC, John Odigie-Oyegun in an attempt to right wrongs in the Adamawa APC, but in vain.

The last straw was the party’s congresses, held a couple of months ago. None of his supporters were allowed to be part of leadership at all levels. Thus, he said it was only expedient for him and his supporters to join the African Democratic Congress (ADC) and fight the injustice.

Danbaba Abdullahi, Sokoto:

Senator Danbaba is said to be playing the political game of Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto State, whose quest to be president is not news. It is also believed that Danbaba feared that he may not get his return ticket to the National Assembly as the APC structure in his state is under the firm control of former governor and now-senator, Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko. Apart from him, about five lawmakers from Sokoto State in the House of Reps have also joined the PDP, an indication that Tambuwal might follow suit.

Monsurat Sunmonu, Oyo:

Senator Sunmonu’s major grouse is with her state governor, Abiola Ajimobi. Her return ticket to the Senate was under threat as the governor reportedly resolved that a former Senate Leader, Teslim Folarin, would replace her.

She then decided to seek a return ticket via the ADC, a newly-formed political party that hitherto had no representation in both chambers of the National Assembly. It is believed that the only thing that may make her return to the APC is the reversal of the governor’s decision.

Usman Bayero Nafada, Gombe:

Nafada’s major grievance is the fact that he has been completely edged out f the affairs of the Gombe APC as Senator Danjuma Goje is said to be in full control of the party. The former deputy speaker of the House of Reps wants to be governor of Gombe State and he felt since he has no structure whatsoever of the party at his disposal, it would be good for him to try elsewhere. But should there be reconciliation, he too may change his decision.

Source: DailyTrust

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