By Chidiebere Onyemaizu
An earth-shaking reconfiguration is looming in the Nigerian Senate. There are indications that a number of Principal Officers of the red chamber-excluding President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu- are set to lose their positions as gale of defections hits the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC in the coming months.
The APC is currently in the majority in the upper chamber but insiders told The Source that at least 35 of its Senators, including defectors from the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are set to dump it. While majority of the APC Senators, the Magazine was informed, are headed for the PDP which sources say will soon undergo complete rebranding with new name, motto, slogan and insignia, some of the other Senators are eyeing other parties. For example three APC Senators from the North Central geo-political zone are wrapping up plans to jettison their party for the Social Democratic Party, SDP while two Senators from the South west are on their way to the African Democratic Congress, ADC promoted by Former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Though the soon-to be rebranded PDP is inheriting majority of the APC defectors, the opposition party is also set to lose two of its Senators from the South east to the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA. One of the Senators is said to be Stella Oduah representing Anambra North Senatorial district in the Senate. If APGA eventually gains two new Senators, the party will be boasting of three Senators in the upper chamber. Senator Victor Umeh, elected in January this year, is the party’s only Senator.
With about 30 APC Senators expected to join its ranks soon, the PDP which has close to 50 Senators already in the Senate will effortlessly achieve a comfortable majority. Leading the pack of defectors, The Source learnt, is the Senate President, Saraki. Saraki was a PDP governor for eight years in Kwara before berthing at the Senate in 2011.He was among PDP chieftains, including governors and federal lawmakers who rebelled against the Party in 2013 under the aegis of ‘New PDP (nPDP) and, fought re- election seeking President Goodluck Jonathan to a standstill and eventually joined forces with the then fledgling APC to install Muhammadu Buhari as President in 2015.
However, after emerging Senate President in June 2015 against the wishes of demi-gods in the mainstream APC, relationship between the former Kwara state governor and his new party has been anything but cordial.However, he has been able to build close-knitted relationship with his colleagues so much so that many Senators from the APC and PDP can go to battle on Saraki’s behalf blind folded.
The confidence Senators repose in Saraki, it was learnt, became firmer following his implication in the Offa bank robbery.Many Senators are said to be angry over the development, describing it as politics taken too far. Credible National Assembly sources told The Source that it is on this ground that some of the defecting APC Senators are doing so in solidarity with Saraki.
Meanwhile, in the reconfigured Senate, APC will become a minority party and with it comes lose of its positions in the Senate leadership. Sources are emphatic that APC will lose positions of Senate majority leader, Deputy leader, Chief whip and Deputy Chief Whip.
The PDP is also confronted with problems, inheriting APC defectors notwithstanding. For example, Senate Minority Leader and former Akwa Ibom state governor, Godswill Akpabio is tipped to transmute into Senate Majority Leader but it is being argued that there is need to make former members of the party returning to its fold to feel at home hence a section of the party is canvassing former Kano state governor and an nPDP kingpin, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for the position, a situation that is not going down well with some chieftains of the party who insist that treachery should not be rewarded with a pat on the back.