By Uche Mbah
Facts are gradually emerging on the last minute deals that that saw the Peoples Democratic Party in disarray during the inaugural election of the National Assembly.
The all Progressives Congress, APC, swept both the upper and lower legislative chambers, with Ahmed Lawan, with Presidency support, emerging the Senate President and Femi Gbajabjamila taking over as Speaker of the house.
The Preparation for the elections, as reported by this Magazine, saw the relocation of Bola Tinubu, whose 2023 presidential ambition is no longer hidden, to Abuja to monitor issues. The aim was to lobby mostly the newly elected senators and members of the house who are new to the politics of the Hallowed Chambers. This cuts across party divides, and he worked assiduously on recruiting them ” by any means possible”, according to party sources.
With the exit of Bukola Saraki, the onus lay on the Deputy Senate PresidentIke Ekwermadu, to co-ordinate the PDP senators and keep them under the umbrella. The recent Court rulings have boosted the number of PDP senators to 52 as against 55 of the APC. One senator is neither PDP nor APC. After holding series of meetings, the PDP had decided on Ali Ndume, who is opposing Ahmed Lawan for the Senatorial seat. “The agreement was for Ndume to be elected with PDP block vote and his own followers from the APC. Ekweremadu will then be elected deputy senate president. Ekweremadu was given full assurance that the South East, through him, will be represented in the ninth Senate,” a source disclosed.
Unfortunately, they appeared not to have done their home work well despite series of meetings. With the APC in constant contact with their members, President Buhari personally went to Sheraton Hotel where the Senators elect were quartered and, according to information, instructed them to make sure Lawan was elected. They began to reach out to the senators elect.
“I have never seen such level of movement of money within Abuja in my life. Many young girls are bound to become overnight millionaires”, said a female source present in one of the hotels in Abuja where the Senators elect were quartered.
Such movements, sources said, cut across party divides. Various interest groups were duly represented, and the new Senators were particularly wooed.
One fact that played against Ekweremadu was the role he was alleged to have played in the nomination of Peter Obi as the PDP running mate to Atiku Abubakar. He was reported to have been piqued, and worked against it. This he had denied many times, but those who were sworn obi loyalists never forgave him. “These were people who had positioned themselves for various appointments and favors from the Atiku-Obi Presidency”, a source who should be in the Know told this magazine.
This appears to tally with facts on ground. Even during Ekweremadu nomination and eventual winning of the senatorial ticket, there were grumblings and dissenting voices mumbling whether the position of Deputy Senate Presidnent is his birth right. According to sources, obi himself is broadminded enough not to join in such pettiness. “But you cannot say that of his supporters who will want to act even without his knowledge”, this Magazine was told.
All these played out in the hallowed chambers during the election of principal officers. In fact, a PDP supporter alleged, in an on air program, that there was expected to be inancial inducement even within the voting arena.
“In the end, Ndume got only 28 votes, about half of the PDP votes. PDP did not give him the promised block votes”, said Martin Onovo, former presidential aspirant under the National Conscience party.
Ndume lost. “Ndume blames his loss on the PDP. That was why he abstained from voting either Omo Agege or Ekweremadu”, said a PDP source. That must have been a signal for his supporters to abandon Ekweremadu and vote Omo Agege. His loss may be atributed partly to protest votes.
With the elections, all position from number one to number seven in the democratic process are now manned by Northern Muslims except for Vice president Yemi Osinbajo. Femi Gbajabiamila is now a known Muslim.
And the South east have been completely excluded from the governance of Nigeria. “But it will not stand”, said Martin Onovo. “There are internal wranglings between them. It takes only one disgruntled person to spill the beans and the whole structure will collapse”.