APC May Lose Senate Presidency to PDP

2015-09-27
THISDAY Newspaper- Olawale Olaleye

Senators elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) are intensifying their plot to take over the senate should Senate President Bukola Saraki fail to survive his ongoing legal battles, which they view as power play among contending forces within the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

THISDAY got wind of the plot from some of the Senators, who have been meeting over the development in the senate and the travails of Senator Saraki.

Saraki, whose emergence as Senate President was as a result of the overwhelming support given to him by PDP senators despite his party’s opposition to his aspiration for the topmost position in the senate, is currently facing a 13-count charge of alleged false declaration of assets at the Code of Conduct Tribunal.

There had been allegations that the current travails of Saraki were aimed at easing him out of the office of the Senate President. But the PDP lawmakers are confident that should there be a need for votes to pick a presiding officer, the party’s caucus is in a good stead to determine who presides over the upper chamber.

Their confidence is predicated on a simple extrapolation of numbers and alliances. For instance, the Senate has 109 seats, with one of the seats vacant as a result of death. The remaining 108 are made up of 59 APC senators and 49 PDP senators.
While the APC caucus is divided over the emergence of Saraki as Senate President, the PDP caucus remains intact, and would only need 11 more Senators to fulfil the constitutional stipulation of one third votes to produce the Senate President.

It was gathered that the PDP senators have also realised that one of the problems President Muhammadu Buhari and others seemed to have with Saraki is the emergence of Senator Ike Ekweremadu as the Deputy Senate President, and are of the view that should Saraki be removed, the APC would not be satisfied until Ekweremadu is also removed – consequently forcing members of the PDP caucus to stay together as a united team to be able to assert themselves and get what they need.

Their calculation is that if APC successfully used the judiciary or other means to remove Saraki, the PDP which already has access to the Senate President’s core supporters in APC, would reach out to them, since they are already endangered and aggrieved. This way, they will get the required one third to elect either Senator David Mark or Ekweremadu as Senate President.

According to some members of the PDP caucus, should Mark emerge, his acceptance will be easier because he is still respected among ranking senators, who would all rally round him. Ekweremadu’s choice is believed to be strategic too because of the way the current administration is seen to be treating the Igbos, therefore using his Senate Presidency to balance the lopsided power equation in the country would be the way to go.

In addition, the PDP senators are said to have gone far in their plot such that they already have the understanding of their APC allies that in the worst case scenario that they come face-to-face with threat from the APC leadership (which is most likely), some of them would absent themselves from sitting on the day of the election of a new Senate leadership.

Some of the senators who spoke to THISDAY in confidence on the issue were of the view that should that happen, the new leadership would endure because while its requires a simple majority to elect the Senate President and his deputy, what is needed to remove them is a two-third majority – a number the APC cannot muster in both instances given the current dynamics in the senate, politically and in terms of numbers.

Citing lack of capacity to manage success in a critical institution like the Senate, some of the PDP senators are of the view that a party that is uncoordinated and lacking internal cohesion is evidently unable to lead a critical arm of government like the Senate, much less the country.

The PDP Senators noted that they had every opportunity to have seized the leadership of the Senate at inauguration but chose to be democratic and exhibit political maturity. However, with the development in the Senate, the PDP Senators argued that the need to save the Senate from the greed of some APC leaders had become inevitable, hence their resolve to take over the senate in the event that a need to elect a new leadership arises.

The lawmakers also noted that after all, the Senate in the last few years, especially under the PDP Senate President David Mark, did a lot, not only to stabilise the institution, but the country in general through its many interventions at critical periods in the nation’s political evolution.

 

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