APC, PDP In Race For Num­bers At N’assem­bly

• In­tense Pol­i­tick­ing For Ma­jor­ity Con­trol On­go­ing • Last Head Count, Se­nate APC 51, PDP 51, Rep. APC 186, PDP 162

The Guardian (Nigeria) - - FRONT PAGE - From Niyi Bello, Az­i­mazi Mo­moh Ji­moh and Adamu Abuh, Abuja

AMID claims and coun­ter­claims by the rul­ing All Pro­gres­sives Congress (APC) and the op­po­si­tion Peo­ples Demo­cratic Party (PDP), over which has the ma­jor­ity in the Na­tional Assem­bly, in­tense un­der­ground ma­neu­ver­ing and lob­by­ing are on­go­ing, with a view to swing­ing the pen­du­lum.

In the on­go­ing de­bate over which of the two par­ties has the right to oc­cupy the seats of Se­nate Pres­i­dent and

Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and the ar­gu­ment that mem­bers have the right to chose their lead­ers, ir­re­spec­tive of party af­fil­i­a­tion, politi­cians out­side both cham­bers have been en­gaged in the act of de­nials, threats and per­sua­sion, all in a bid to win the game of num­bers that is ex­pected to im­pact pro­foundly on next year’s gen­eral elec­tion.

While the APC is still in the ma­jor­ity in the Lower Cham­ber, de­spite the de­fec­tion of 37 mem­bers to the PDP, the ru­moured im­mi­nent de­fec­tion of Speaker Yakubu Dog­ara and many oth­ers has made highly un­clear what would hap­pen in the Lower House in the com­ing days.

Al­though the fig­ures keep chang­ing by the day, the 37 rep­re­sen­ta­tives, who dumped the APC is be­lieved to have de­pleted the rul­ing party’s law­mak­ers in that cham­ber to about 186, as against PDP’ 162.

The All Pro­gres­sives Grand Al­liance (APGA) held on to its five mem­bers, while four of the APC mem­bers de­fected to the newly reg­is­tered African Demo­cratic Congress (ADC). The So­cial Demo­cratic Party (SDP) boasts a mem­ber, while the seat of the for­mer Deputy Ma­jor­ity Leader, Buba Jib­ril, who passed on re­cently is still va­cant.

House Ma­jor­ity Leader, Femi Gba­jabi­amila, who was vis­i­bly wor­ried over the sud­den turn­around in the for­tunes of the party was re­lieved af­ter a head­count of his mem­bers, that he re­tained his seat.

He de­clared, “I want to say that not only does APC re­main ma­jor­ity in the House, the party is ac­tu­ally in clear, over­whelm­ing ma­jor­ity. I want to be­lieve that those who wanted to de­fect were look­ing for about 60 mem­bers and they got half, which leaves the APC over and be­yond what is re­quired for ma­jor­ity.”

The de­ci­sion by two PDP mem­bers to join for­mer Akwa Ibom State gov­er­nor, Godswill Ak­pabio, to de­fect to the APC last week, fur­ther re­in­forced Gba­jabi­amila’s claim of his party’s nu­mer­i­cal strength in the lower leg­isla­tive cham­ber.

How­ever, fears that Dog­ara would join Saraki to de­fect to the PDP has al­ready been al­layed by the APC Na­tional Chair­man, Adams Osh­iom­hole, who claimed that he had suc­ceeded in per­suad­ing the Speaker not to dump the party af­ter rec­on­cil­ing him with Gov­er­nor Mo­hammed Abubakar, of Bauchi State.

But Dog­ara’s con­spic­u­ous ab­sence at last week’s cau­cus meet­ing of the APC at the Na­tional Assem­bly, how­ever, cast doubt on the cred­i­bil­ity of Osh­iom­hole’s claim.

Sources dis­closed that Dog­ara may be wait­ing to have on his side, the re­quired num­ber to sway the nu­mer­i­cal strength in favour of the PDP be­fore of­fi­cially an­nounc­ing his de­fec­tion to pre­vent the seem­ing stale­mate that is ev­i­dent in the Se­nate, where sen­a­tors from the con­tend­ing par­ties ap­pear to be run­ning neck to neck.

How­ever, the fi­nal an­swer to the ques­tion of which party will even­tu­ally con­trol the Se­nate lead­er­ship is still hang­ing as many sen­a­tors, mostly APC, are still sit­ting on the fence wait­ing for an op­por­tu­nity to take the plunge, even as more con­tinue to pledge their al­le­giance to the Se­nate lead­er­ship de­spite their po­lit­i­cal dif­fer- ences.

Added to this, is the fact that more de­fec­tions are ex­pected to be an­nounced at the emer­gency sit­ting due to the po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing that is tak­ing place.

Just last week, the APC cau­cus met out­side the Na­tional Assem­bly to seek ways of strength­en­ing unity among its mem­bers against ef­forts by the Se­nate lead­er­ship to cause di­vi­sion within the party.

On Thurs­day, Se­nate Pres­i­dent, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and his team met with the South West Cau­cus of the APC in the Se­nate in its bid to poach them and it is be­lieved that a fe­male sen­a­tor who had an­nounced her de­fec­tion to the ADC, from the APC is likely to make a de­tour and head to the PDP.

There are also spec­u­la­tions that an­other fe­male sen­a­tor, who had ini­tially de­fected from the PDP to the APC in Ek­iti, may soon find her way back to her for­mer party, not only be­cause she is an ally of Saraki, but be­cause her sec­ond term ticket has been re­served by the APC lead­er­ship for an­other party chief­tain.

An in­flu­en­tial APC Sen­a­tor from the North East dis­closed that al­though party dif­fer­ences ex­ist, the level of re­la­tion­ships that ex­isted among sen­a­tors, par­tic­u­larly the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the Saraki and many sen­a­tors re­mains very strong.

He said, “The is­sue in the Se­nate is to­tally dif­fer­ent from what ex­ists out­side. Al­though pol­i­tics is lo­cal, there are cer­tain re­la­tion­ships that lo­cal pol­i­tics can­not eas­ily break. You may find that many of us in the APC are op­posed to the ques­tion of lead­er­ship change in the Se­nate if it ever arises be­cause of per­sonal con­vic­tions. Out­side forces may con­tinue to in­sist, but I don’t think ma­jor­ity of sen­a­tors will buy the idea.”

Amid calls for his res­ig­na­tion, Saraki said last Thurs­day said he would only quit if two-thirds of all sen­a­tors passed a vote of no con­fi­dence on him.

The Con­sti­tu­tion in sec­tion 50 (2) (c) states that, “The Pres­i­dent or Deputy Pres­i­dent of the Se­nate, or the Speaker or Deputy Speaker of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives shall va­cate his of­fice if he is re­moved from of­fice by a res­o­lu­tion of the Se­nate, or of the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, as the case may be, by the votes of not less than two-thirds ma­jor­ity of the mem­bers of that House.”

By the pro­vi­sion of this sec­tion, not less than 73 sen­a­tors are re­quired to re­move the Se­nate Pres­i­dent.

How­ever, the anti-saraki forces in and out­side the Se­nate are of the view that two thirds of Sen­a­tors present and vot­ing af­ter form­ing quo­rum is enough to ef­fect Saraki’s re­moval. A clear pic­ture of which party has the high­est num­ber will emerge on Tues­day, as the law­mak­ers re­con­vene to ad­dress the is­sue of the N242b elec­tion-fund­ing pro­posal pre­sented by the ex­ec­u­tive dur­ing, which of­fi­cial af­fir­ma­tion of who is where is ex­pected to be made.

But Tues­day may still not pro­vide the an­swer as many of the law­mak­ers are be­lieved to be ty­ing their party loy­alty to their abil­ity to se­cure tick­ets for re-elec­tion in their re­spec­tive con­stituen­cies.

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