The nation’s democratic space yesterday experienced some jolt, with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) losing some of its members in the National Assembly to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and other opposition parties.
In a drama of sort, 15 APC senators defected to the PDP in a session which threw the National Assembly into some moments of frenzy.
With the defection, the PDP, which before now had 42 members, now boasts of 56 in the Red Chambers on account of 14 senators who dumped their party.
Consequently , the APC which officially had 64 seats in the Senate before the defection got deflated to 50, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance has one seat, with the remaining two seats vacant on account of demise of Senator Ali Wakil ( Bauchi South) and Bukar Mustapha ( Katsina North).
The defectors Names of Senators who defected as listed in a joint letter written and read by the Senate President Bukola Saraki are; Dino Melaye ( Kogi West), Barnabas Gemade ( Benue North East), Abdullahi Danbaba ( Sokoto South), Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Rafiu Ibrahim ( Kwara South) and Suleiman Hunkuyi ( Kaduna North).
Others are, Hamman Isa Misau ( Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), Usman Bayero Nafada( Gombe North), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central) , Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun Central) and Abdulaziz Nyako ( Adamawa Central) .
Senate leader’s move Worried by the development, the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan (APC Yobe North), made spirited attempt to save the ruling party from losing the defected members by hurriedly making pleas for change of mind.
Lawan, who rose through order 43 of the Senate rules under personal explanation, appealed to the Senate President to discountenance the already read letter, since according to him, efforts were on by the party’s leadership to resolve its internal crisis.
He said: “The APC, our party certainly has its own internal challenges but Mr.
President, as a political party, we all know how so much effort was put being made by so many stakeholders to address the issues that bedevilled this party.
“The disagreements do not translate into fictionalisation.
I therefore feel that our senators of the APC stock do not have to move to any other party now because the issues are under serious discussions by the major stakeholders of this party.
“I will urge that the announcement be quarantined and contained and address the issues.
Very seriously, this matter should be stepped down until we exhaust all the opportunities.” Saraki’s response But the Senate President Bukola Saraki, in his response, described Lawan’s submission as belated in the face of executive recklessness against him and the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, who was not allowed to attend the plenary session as a result of security siege to his house by operatives of State Security Service and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
He said: “As you know and have seen that the seat beside you is absent.
As we speak, the Deputy Senate President cannot get out of his house today.
He is under siege.
This morning, I could not also leave my street as well, all because of efforts by some people that believed that today’s sitting must not hold because some members want to move or defect.
“It is not something that has started today; it will not end today; people have gone, they’ve come back.
But this kind of action does not allow for what you are saying or speaking as the leader of the Senate, who has been here for many years.
The senators are adults and have made their personally decision as clearly explained in the letter.
The letter read: “Dear Senate President, after due consultation with our constituents and stakeholders in our constituencies, in proper recognition of section 68(1G) of the 1999 Constitution as amended and with the fact that our party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) is hereby emerging a factionalised party, we hereby inform the Senate that we the undersigned are changing our political affiliation from the All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
We thank you for your exemplary leadership.” APC still operates as majority Blueprint observed that the APC senators are still officially playing the role of majority in the Senate, because Saraki still retains his membership of the party in the Senate, while Senators Hope Uzodinma (Imo West), Fatimah Raji Rasaki (Ekiti Central) and Sunny Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South), who are believed to have defected to the party outside the Senate chamber but yet to do so officially on the floor of the upper legislative chamber.
Meanwhile, the Senate had adjourned sittings till 26th of September after adoption of votes and proceedings of its session yesterday.
Same scenario at Reps Although similar wave hit the House of Representatives where the party lost 37 of its members to the PDP, the African Democratic Congress, and United Peoples Party, it was however not enough to strip APC of its majority status in the lower chamber.
While the main opposition PDP received 32 defecting members, the ADC had four, with Tony Nwulu defecting to the UPP from the PDP.
These were contained in three separate communications through Speaker of the House, Hon.
He said the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon.
Emmanuel Orker-Jev only announced his resignation as a member of the APC, with no new platform at the moment.
All defectors cited factionalisation of their parties as their reason for moving out.
Reasons for defection Briefing newsmen later, the defecting members explained that theirs was just the “first batch” of defectors, saying more of their colleagues will be leaving the APC in the coming days.
“We came together because we believed what was proposed to Nigerians.
We believed Nigerians deserved better, but when the party assumed power in 2015, it set itself on a course to derail, and it has continued to date.
So many of us became agitated to go back to what brought us together”, Hon.
Razak Atunwa who led other defectors stated yesterday.
They also blamed the APC of embarking on victimisation and criminalisation of dissenting members.
“Within the party, aggrieved members were castigated as inconsequential.
But in the last three years, we have seen that the PDP has learnt its lessons, and has put in place, several reforms,” Atunwa explained.
APC caucus faults claim But faulting the defectors’ claims, the APC Caucus in the House, led by Majority Leader, Hon.
Femi Gbajabiamila, however, said the party may be encouraged to go to court.
Faulting the reliance of the members on ‘division’ within the party to move out, Gbajabiamila recalled the case of PDP versus Adekunle, in which he said “the meaning of division has been clearly stated by the Supreme Court and the so-called R-APC that everybody is chanting did not fall within the interpretation of the Supreme Court.
Therefore, we would be encouraging the party to take the necessary steps, not because we are against the members, but so that we can further entrench democracy.
“When people elect you to represent them on a particular platform, that seat does not belong to you, the seat belongs to the constituency, so it is important that this position is stated clearly, and that we put it to rest.” Speaking further, the lawmaker said “let me also commend the remainder of members of the APC in the House who have remained steadfast, who have remained committed to the party.
For me, that is what politics is all about, particularly in a representative democracy.
We’re trying to build politics of ideology in this country and that is why I commend our members who have remained to the ideology of this party.”
PDP defector Nwulu Also explaining his reason for defecting to UPP, Nwulu, who is aspiring for the governorship of Imo state, said he had carefully scrutinised the nation’s political parties, and settled for the UPP, because “it the only party that will give the young people the opportunity they are craving for.” List of defectors: From APC to ADC; Sunday Adepoju (Oyo), Olugbemi Samson (Oyo), Taiwo Michael (Oyo), Olasupo Abiodun (Oyo).
From APC to PDP; Garba Umar (Kano), Olayonu Tope (Kwara), Ahmed Garba (Kano), Kabiru Marafa (Sokoto), Zakari Mohammed (Kwara), Abubakar AmudaKanike (Kwara).
Ali Madaki (Kano), Hassan Saleh (Benue), Ahma Pategi (Kwara), Mark Gbillah (Benue), Shehu Usman (Kano), Aminu Shagari (Sokoto), Nuhu Danburam (Kano), Atunwa Abdulrazak (Kwara).
Salisu Zakari (Bauchi), Hassan Omale (Kogi), Oker-Jev (Benue), Rufai Chanchangi (Kaduna), Abdulsamad Dasuki (Sokoto), Sani Zoro (Jigawa), Benjamin Okolo (Kogi), Funke Adedoyi (Kwara), Bode Ayorinde (Ondo), Bashiru Salihu (Sokoto), Barry Mpigi (Rivers), Nasiru Sule (Kano), Segun Ogunwuyi (Oyo), Lawal Rabiu , Sani Rano (Kano), Dickson Tarkighir (Benue) Musa Adotsamiya , Emmanuel Udende (Benue), and Nwulu who defected from PDP to UPP.
Situation under control – Buhari In his reaction, President Muhammadu Buhari, has assured that the party is not shaken, saying no harm or injury would be done to the APC and its aspirations by the developments.
While wishing the defectors well in their future endeavours, he noted that none of the defecting APC lawmakers had any specific grievances against him or the government he leads; neither did he harbour anything against any of them.
“As the saying goes, all politics is local.
We understand that some of the distinguished and honourable lawmakers have issues with their home states, especially on zoning which bars some of them from seeking another term in their constituencies,” he said.
He said the APC had done its utmost to stop the defections, and commended the leadership of the party for relentlessly working for its unity and ensuring success in the upcoming elections.
The President assured members of the APC of his total support and urged party faithful not to despair but to see the defections as a seasonal occurrence that happens on election eve.
He also expressed total commitment to the values of democracy, freedom of choice as well as total willingness to work with all members of the National Assembly, irrespective of their political party, for the benefit of the nation.
We won’t lose sleep – Oshiomhole Similarly, the APC National Chairman, Comrade Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, has likened the defectors’ exit as ‘good riddance’, stressing that President Buhari and the party leadership won’t lose sleep over the defection.
Fielding questions from State House correspondents after a meeting with the President, Oshiomhole described the defectors as big masquerades with no electoral value, and would be disgraced by the electorate in 2019.
He said the lawmakers that defected have been with the PDP in spirit, adding that they are men with no honour whose only motivation is personal interest and not general welfare of Nigerians.
He said: “As national chairman, I am committed to listening to very legitimate grievances and engaging all those who are aggrieved that we can see through their grievances.
But I insist that I will not miss a sleep one minute over mercenary activities.
“I had said and I want to repeat, this business of governance must be driven by men and women of honour.
If the only motivation is personal interest, what is in it for me, what have gained, how many people have done xyz for, if that is the basis, the earlier those in this business of personal gains, the earlier they return to where they belong, the better.
“This party that I am privileged to chair is not worried at all, we are not disturbed, I am not going to miss my sleep and we will go into the campaign.
Check the electoral results, you will find that a lot that claimed to have decamped, on a good day, the votes they got that made them members of the senate, our president got much more votes in their constituency.
So, we are not fooled at all.
“The thing going on is that you have a lot of so-called big masquerades with very little and no electoral value.
I have tried my best which I think I needed to do to give people comfort, those who claimed to be aggrieved.
But those who have other hidden agenda that are not negotiable, I am not going to be able to appease anyone who expects x-level of return and the system is not delivering it, in terms of personal return.
I can’t solve that.” Asked to comment on the implication of the defection for the ruling party which is now minority in the National Assembly, Oshiomhole said: “The issue is that they have defected so what is the other implication?” The APC chairman also dismissed remarks that adjourning proceedings in the two chambers of the National Assembly would negative effects on the party, explaining that “the business of the Senate or the National Assembly is not to legislate for the good governance of APC; it is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria.
“If people have chosen that it is more politically convenient to suspend the process of legislation ahead of time because it is not convenient for their political interests and choose to insubordinate the Nigerian national interest for that purpose, it is their choice.
If there are implications, it is for the Nigerian nation not for APC.”