Senate Deffections: The decimation of PDP

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The wave of defection hitting the opposition Peoples Democratic Party in the Senate in favour of the ruling All Progressives Congress is a thing of worry in many political quarters now. With the heightening trend ahead of the 2019 election, many are beginning to imagine how the political space may look like.

The rate at which the National Assembly members elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are defecting to the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, has become a thing of concern to political watchers in the country.

Suggestions that senators who campaigned on particular party platforms and programmes would maintain fidelity with their campaign promises irrespective of circumstances that may come their way. But remarkably it is not so for Senators Joshua Dariye, Yele Omogunwa, Nelson Effiong and Andy Uba, who at different times denounced the PDP on whose platform they came into the Senate to join the APC.

Following the declaration of April 2015 National Assembly election results by the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, the APC had 64 senators; the PDP, 46. Labour Party, LP, was to subsequently claim one seat from the PDP when Senator Ovie Omo-Agege ousted Chief Ighoyota Amori from the Delta Central Senatorial seat. But with the declaration of election petition tribunals, court-ordered rerun elections, and verdicts from some Appeal Courts, the number of senators in the APC and PDP was altered. In all, the ruling APC benefited most from the decisions taken.

Remarkably, the spate of defections has been largely welcomed by the APC. Indeed, Senator Kabiru Marafa had in an appeal to Senator Ike Ekweremadu, the deputy president of the Senate called on him to defect from the PDP noting that membership of the opposition party was the only stain in the senator’s sterling qualities. All four defections in the Senate have been opposed by Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who at various times declared that the seats belong to the PDP which he said would go to court to win back the seats.

In all four senators have defected from the PDP to the APC.

Joshua Dariye
SENATOR Joshua Dariye became the first PDP senator to defect on Thursday, September 22, 2016.

The former governor of Plateau State was first elected to the Senate in 2011 on the platform of Labour Party and defected to the PDP in the twilight of the last Senate and won re-election on the platform of the party on whose platform he served as governor between 1999 and 2007.

Senator Dariye is one of the former governors facing corruption charges, and it was not unusual when some thought that the defection was aimed to in him give him some protection.

He is being prosecuted by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC for allegedly siphoning the state’s ecological fund to the tune of N1.16 billion. For nine years, his trial was delayed until February 2015 when the Supreme Court affirmed the competence of the Abuja court to try him.

His defection was also seen as a homecoming of sorts given the fact that the new governor of the state, Mr. Simon Lalong was his loyalist and Speaker of the Plateau House of Assembly at the time of his travails as governor.

Andy Uba

SENATOR Andy Uba, who formally announced his defection on the Senate floor last Tuesday became the latest senator to defect from the PDP. Senator Uba, one of the most powerful men during the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency, like the others, cited the crisis in the PDP for his defection.

But beyond that is the popular claim that the senator who had in the past contested the governorship office of Anambra State twice is again set to re-contest the office in the forthcoming election in the state.

In defecting from the PDP, Senator Uba is bound to lose his position as chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts given parliamentary convention that the juicy committee should be in the hands of the opposition.

Nelson Effiong

SENATOR Nelson Effiong, representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, defected to the APC on January 19, 2017

The senator cited divisions within the PDP as his reason for leaving the party. On the eve of his defection party stakeholders met at the residence of Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio where tremendous pressure was brought to bear on the senator not to leave the party. Effiong, a former Speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly and who is from the same senatorial district as the governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel, however, refused to cave in.

His primary reason for defection was alleged to be the friction between himself and the governor who it is alleged has already arranged a female former minister from the area as his successor.

Yele Omogunwa
SENATOR Yele Omogunwa, representing Ondo South Senatorial District defected to the APC on Thursday, November 24, 2016.

His defection just before the Ondo State governorship election came as a shock to the PDP in Ondo State. It was seen as a response to the decision of Governor Segun Mimiko to position his Ondo Central Senatorial district for the succession. Until Mimko brought out Eyitayo Jegede, the senator had cordial relations with the mainstream of the party and the former governor.

“I am no more in PDP, but now a bona fide member of APC. My reasons for joining APC are personal,” he had explained after announcing his defection.

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