Tuesday, November 11, 2014 4:23 pm
Lawmakers elected on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party battle the President over his alleged deal with Governors to frustrate their return to the National Assembly
For Nigeria’s ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, it is a season of troubles. While still scratching its head to come up with an appropriate response to the challenge posed to it by the defection of Aminu Tambuwal, the speaker of House of Representatives, to the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, the party was for the better part of last week trying to come up with an appropriate response to an unexpected rebellion in the ranks of its members in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. Many aspirants to various positions in the 2015 general elections across the state chapters of the party are also seething with anger, even as they were filing tomes of petitions against the result of the Ward Congresses of PDP which held penultimate Saturday.
Angry PDP senators virtually ensured that no business was conducted for the two days the upper chamber sat last week. Indeed, Senate President David Mark, who seemed to have perfected ways of meandering through the various landmines that had occasionally threatened to explode in the upper chamber, was forced to hurriedly adjourn sitting last Tuesday amidst protests from APC members in the chamber.
Though there were important national issues waiting for their attention, the PDP caucus ensured that no issue was tabled for discussion before the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba, moved motion for adjournment. The senators said they were adjourning in solidarity with their colleagues in the House of Representatives, over the withdrawal of the security personnel of the office of the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal. But the issue of Tambuwal is just another platform the PDP senators want to latch upon to get their party to do their bidding. The real grouse of the lawmakers, for which they refused to allow proceedings to go on in the upper chamber for two days last week, was the outcome of last Saturday’s Ward Congresses of their party held across the country.
The senators had feared that, with the election of loyalists of their state governors as delegates in the congresses, their chances of return to the National Assembly had become very slim. This magazine gathered that at least, 10 governors elected on the platform of PDP have signified their interest to take up seats in the Senate in 2015. This implies that they will have to displace at least one sitting senator from their states to realise their ambition. The governors’ interest in the Senate was to remain relevant politically after they left office as well as to follow in the footsteps of their former colleagues. There are 10 former governors in the current Senate. The governors also believed that membership of the upper chamber will, to a large extent, shield them from the searchlight of the anti-corruption agencies after their tenure. In the same vein, some of the governors are also propping up their friends and loyalists to contest for senatorial and House of Representatives seats.
Some of the governors who have already indicated that nothing will stop them from contesting election into the Senate include Governors Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta, Theodore Orji of Abia, Gabriel Suswam of Benue, Babangida Aliyu of Niger and Mallam Isa Yuguda of Bauchi. The others are Liyel Imoke of Cross River State, Sullivan Chime of Enugu, Martin Elechi of Ebonyi, Jonah Jang of Plateau, Ibrahim Shema of Katsina and Saidu Dakingari of Kebbi State. The ambition of the governors has been a source of friction between them and the lawmakers from their states in the past few weeks. For instance, Governor Suswam and incumbent senator representing Benue North-East, Barnabas Gemade, have been at each other’s throat in the battle for the PDP ticket for the senatorial zone.
In the same vein, Governor Chime and the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu, as well as Governor Uduaghan and Senator James Manager, no longer see eye to eye as a result of fights for the senatorial tickets of their respective constituencies. Governor Imoke is also said to be interested in supporting a member of the House of Representatives to replace Ndoma-Egba. Governor Akpabio, chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum, has also been engaged in a slugfest with Senator Aloysiu Etok, currently representing Akwa Ibom North-West, where Akpabio hails from, over his interest in the senatorial seat. The governors asked the party to give them automatic tickets for the senatorial seats, regardless of the performance of the candidates they want to displace, or the positions they are holding.
It was learnt that a meeting between the PDP national chairman, Dr Adamu Mu’azu, and governors elected on the platform of the party late last month failed to reach a consensus on the issue of endorsement and automatic tickets for first term governors, Senate-bound governors and their preferred successors. Also, the national leadership of the party had in a recent statement declared that there would be no automatic tickets for governors, members of the National Assembly and other persons vying for the tickets of the party ahead 2015 elections. National Publicity Secretary of the party, Chief Olisa Metuh, at a press conference in Abuja penultimate Sunday, said automatic tickets for governors and legislators of the party could only be approved by the NEC, stressing that its endorsement of Jonathan did not apply to governors and other political office holders seeking re-election. According to Metuh, “The NEC of the PDP, besides national convention, is the highest decision making organ of the party. And it is, therefore, only the national caucus and executive that can handle such decisions.”
Also, the leadership of National Assembly had tried to intervene in the crisis with a proposal that at least one experienced senator per state should be retained to guide those who would be elected in 2015. The leadership of the National Assembly and the senate president, according to sources, particularly canvassed for the return of the deputy president of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, Senate leader, Ndoma-Egba and other principal officers because of the wealth of experience they have acquired in legislative matters and quality representation they have given their people. But some of the senators were said to have complained that their governors were already employing state machinery to oppress them. The senators were said to have also vowed not to vacate their seats for the outgoing governors.