The continued call on the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu to defect from the Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP), to the All Progressives Congress, (APC), is creating fear and apprehension among members of the PDP caucus at the Senate.
Senators told our reporters that with the new wind of peace permeating the caucus of the APC at the Senate, Ekweremadu could be easily edged out.
Ekweremadu punctured the tradition of the National Assembly in June 2015 when he defeated Senator Ali Ndume (APC, Borno) to emerge the Deputy Senate President in an APC-dominated chamber.
After his victory, Ndume was placated with the Senate Leader seat, which he occupied until last when he was removed.
A Nigerian daily had reported that the removal of Ndume triggered the call for Ekweremadu’s defection to the APC on Tuesday when Ahmed Lawan, (APC, Yobe) emerged as the Senate Leader.
Spokesman of the Senate Unity Forum, (SUF), which campaigned for Senator Lawan for the Senate Presidency, Senator Kabiru Marafa (APC, Zamfara) started the call on Ekweredamu’s defection and since then, others have joined in the call.
The daily also reported that the Ndume’s treatment, according to a source, could be meted out on Ekweremadu.
The source said in the report that, “Even though Ndume’s removal was not against our rules, the strategy used was unprecedented and tricky. Ekweremadu can be treated in same manner and nothing would happen.”
Another Senator said the strength of the PDP at the Senate had been weakened by the emergence of Lawan.
When Senator Marafa was contacted on what would be the next line action if Ekweremadu refused to defect to the APC, he reportedly said, “If we reach the bridge, we will cross it. But for now, we are appealing to him to do so.”
On another occasion, Senator Mohammed Hassan, (PDP, Yobe) said: “It is not true that we are in fear over Ekweremadu’s seat. There is nothing bad for them to be wooing him to their party. We too are calling on the Senate President, Bukola Saraki to join us in the PDP.”
A respondent of The DEFENDER however viewed Senator Mohammed Hassan’s submission as insincere, being, according to him, that the same PDP Senators he said were not in fair over Ekweremadu’s seat did not only stage a walk out during session when an Ondo State Senate defected from the former strong party to APC recently but also they caused row for days threatening to withdraw support from Senate President Buhari Saraki for allowing the PDP Senator’s defection to succeed.
From the look of things, the respondent said, “the APC both as a party and legislators in the National Assembly particularly the Senate are now beginning to show that they are serious with governance.”
The respondent was reacting also to the warning on Thursday by the Ahmed Makarfi-led faction of the PDP, which said the call for Ike Ekweremadu’s defection to APC to save his position was call to anarchy. He said there would no anarchy except that whoever who foments trouble because of that would be treated as trouble maker and handed to the law.
The statement said: “Fortunately, there is no section or clause of the Nigerian Constitution (1999 As Amended) that provides that one must be a member of the Ruling Party before he/she can be elected into any position in the Senate or the House of Representatives.
“Equally, it is very distasteful and uncharitable for any senator to stand on the floor of the Hallowed Chamber and ask his colleague to violate the Constitution by cross-carpeting from his own party to join the ruling party. Note that it is Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and not Senate of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“It is indeed laughable for Senator Marafa to cite the internal issues in the PDP as a reason for Senator Ekweremadu to decamp. For the umpteenth time, let us reiterate that there is no faction in the PDP. A party is only factionalised when its organs are in disarray but this is different in the PDP where all the organs are intact behind the National Caretaker Committee under the chairmanship of H. E. Senator Ahmed Makarfi, CON. A mere rebellion by a small interest group within the Party cannot be referred to factionalisation of the Party.”
Prince Dayo Adeyeye said in the statement that any attempt to remove Ekweremadu was a call for anarchy.
Forgetting the past quickly
It is however not clear if the PDP faction recalled that before the former Africa’s biggest party devolved into the Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff imbroglio, strong and clear indications emerged on Saturday September 27, 2015 that senators elected on the platform of the party were plotting to take over the position of the Senate President, occupied by APC, in the event that embattled Senator Bukola Saraki was forced to vacate the seat. That was when they thought that all their politicking, causing rows everywhere and backing Saraki not to succumb to the instructions and summons of the CCT, would no longer save him from the axe of the Danladi Umar-led Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), following a 13-count charge brought against him by the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB), bordering on false declaration of assets in 2003.
The PDP Senators at that time were certain of the success of their plots because they banked on the calculation of existing numbers. The APC, which initially had 60 senators, had at that time had 59, following the death of Senator Ahmed Zannah. PDP had 49 senators. To elect a Senate President, a simple majority was required – whereas to impeach same, a two third majority vote was required hence the plots on several occasions by the opposition to ensure that Senate of the Federal Republic fell into their hands so that they could do what they had several pronounced to be ensure that Buhari’s government would not work.
But neutralising all the warnings and condemnation by the PDP, the respondent told The DEFENDER that, “If you notice, you would see that in the last one and half years, what we have seen of governance came only from the executive as the National Assembly, instead of supporting the President in lifting the country higher, was preoccupied with anti-party activities teaming up with opposition PDP in running down the excellent moves of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Executive Council to change the country for better.
“Also in the last one and a half years, the PDP that Nigerians drove out of power have been so vocal as if we are still in PDP regime. You would also observe that anything that would bring positive change to Nigerians brought to the Senate by Buhari, before now, had always been objected to. I don’t need to tell you many of those things that the seemingly PDP dominated APC’s Nigerian National Assembly had done before now.
“With the latest development, from the first day that Senator Ali Ndume was removed, I knew that APC was getting serious as a party and that the National Assembly was now beginning to see itself as part of the Change Regime of President Muhammadu Buhari and that any one of them in the Senate that has personal problem will now begin to be allowed to answer his name without using that to rub on others in a way capable of any longer affecting the progress of Nigeria and Nigerian people as we witnessed in the past.
“Any sane person close to Nigerian politics should know that Ali Ndume’s removal was not because his colleagues did not like his face but because, it was the price he has to pay in helping put Nigeria back to shape. As for Ekweremadu, he shouldn’t have needed any soothsayer to tell him what the next line of action would be talking about his own position as PDP in the office as Depute Senate President in an APC dominated Senate, which could not have happened in the years that his own party stayed in power since 1999.
“It is only unfortunate that many Nigerians don’t know what is good for them talkless that they know what they want. That explained the disappointing attitude of many Nigerian public speakers who contributed to national discourse when Ekweremadu emerged in 2015. Many of us thing that a legislature of mixed political arrangements would bring about checks and balances forgetting that Nigerian politicians have not developed to that level.
“If they have so developed, can you tell me what contribution Ike Ekweremadu’s occupation of the position of Deputy Senate President has made to Nigeria’s progress so far other than the anti-APC, anti-Buhari programmes that his party continued to carry out on the floor of the Senate? If therefore the Senators of the APC would deep it fit at this time to remove him, it is a long awaited development that many Nigerian good minds will hail because in 2017, Nigerians expect no less than vast improvements on the achievements of 2016 and that can best be done only when the APC takes charge fully,” he said.