THISDAY HEADLINE: PDP Takes Over Senate as 14 Senators Defect from APC

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It was a bad day for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) Tuesday as a gale of defection swept through the National Assembly with 14 of its leading senators defecting to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).


The APC also lost weight in the House of Representatives, where 32 of its members crossed carpeted to the side of the PDP.

The ruling party also lost four members to the African Democratic Congress (ADC), while one other resign without stating which party he will join.

The political realignment reconfigured the federal legislature as the PDP took control of the Senate with 57 senators to the APC’s 49, while the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has one senator. Two seats are vacant.

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The Senate Majority Leader, Senator Ahmad Lawan, however, disputed this position Tuesday night, insisting that in spite of the defection, the APC still has 52 senators to PDP’s 50; APGA three; and two vacancies.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC attempted to downplay the gale of defections Tuesday, wishing the carpet crossers well in their future endeavours.

“I wish all of our party members who today defected, the very best in their future undertakings,” the president said in a statement by his Senior Media Assistant, Malam Shehu Garba, adding: “The APC has done its best to stop the defections, and I must commend the party leadership for working tirelessly to unite the party and position it for future victory.”

The APC National Chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, was, however, less conciliatory as he dismissed the defectors as big masquerades without electoral values.

The party’s National Publicity Secretary, Malam Bolaji Abdullahi, on his part toed a more temperate path, saying the APC respected the right of the defectors to political association and enjoined the remaining members to remain calm.

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Efforts to ward off the defections had collapsed on Monday night as the angry members of the APC massed in the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) had refused all entreaties to persuade them to stay back.

The first sign of hostility was the invitation to Senate President Bukola Saraki by the police, asking him to report at one of its stations in Guzape, Abuja for interrogation of the April 2018 Offa bank robberies.

Saraki had responded that the invitation was a political game to prevent the impending defections from the APC.

Tuesday morning, he was proved right as the police blocked his convoy from leaving his Maitama, Abuja residence around the same time security operatives laid siege to Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s house in Apo, Abuja.

The security efforts were futile as Saraki made it to the Senate to preside over the day’s proceedings that witnessed the reconfiguration of the power blocs in the upper legislative chamber.

The APC senators, who defected as contained in a joint letter written to that effect and read at plenary by the Senate president, were Dino Melaye (Kogi West), Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South), Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) and Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North).

Others were 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).

Worried by the development, the Senate Leader, 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 came 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 are being made by the leadership of the party to solve the internal crisis rocking the party.

But the Senate president in his response, described Lawan’s submission as belated in the face of executive recklessness against him and Ekweremadu who was not allowed to attend the plenary session as a result of security siege slammed on his house by operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) and Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

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 due to all efforts by some people that believe that today’s sitting must not hold because some members want to move or defect.