Senate president Bukola Saraki on Tuesday, July 31, finally announced his defection to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). The announcement is not, however, unexpected. It is rather long overdue.
Many loyalists of the Senate president had earlier defected to the PDP and he (Saraki) has been seen on several occasions fraternizing with PDP stalwarts.
Besides, since the inception of the APC administration, Saraki’s APC membership has been questionable.
The twists that greeted the election of the Senate president in 2015 first sent a signal of how Saraki’s relationship with the APC would be.
How Saraki emerged Senate president
Immediately after the APC won the presidential election and the majority seats both in the Senate and the House of Representatives, the party adopted Ahmed Lawan to become the Senate president.
Since it has the majority in the House, it was believed, and expected, that the APC would not have any problem installing its preferred candidate as the president of the Senate.
However, Saraki had other plans. He made a surprising political move; he made an agreement with PDP senators to support him in his bid to lead the Senate and in return, ensured that a PDP member, Ike Ekweremadu, emerged his deputy.
Premium Times reports that on the day the formal election for Senate president was to be held, while majority of APC senators, about 50, were waiting for President Muhammadu Buhari who had invited them to a meeting with him at the International Conference Centre, Saraki and other “rebel” senators of the APC moved into the National Assembly complex, where the police had thrown a cordon to prevent workers and reporters from entering, for the “election” of principal officers.
A total 57 senators loyal to Saraki, most of them PDP members, unanimously “elected” him after he was nominated by Senators Dino Melaye and Sanni Yerima.
Saraki was hurriedly sworn-in as the new Senate president even as the majority of his APC colleagues were at the ICC waiting for President Buhari.
The APC was furious with Saraki’s emergence. Party leaders like Bola Tinubu worked to ensure he was removed and a fresh election held. However, all the efforts to remove Saraki were unsuccessful.
Perhaps to further spite the ruling party or ensure his loyalists were properly rewarded, Saraki also reportedly ensured that juicy committees of the Senate were reserved for either his APC loyalists or PDP senators who backed him.
Meanwhile, since Saraki announced his defection to the opposition PDP, reports have filtered in that he is already plotting how he will retain his position as the Senate president.
A close aide to the Senate president reportedly said that he (Saraki) was going to explore constitutional provisions to ensure he does not leave the seat he fought for.
The source added that although it is not clear which party between the ruling and the opposition controls the majority of lawmakers in the Senate, the 1999 Constitution (as amended) does not prevent anyone from a minority to lead the upper chamber.
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