Wednesday, December 24, 2014 2:35 pm
Following their unsuccessful return bids, aggrieved Peoples Democratic Party’s serving senators throw the Nigerian senate into a scare as they move to remove the senate President David Mark
The serving Peoples Democratic Party senators were utterly shocked, courtesy of their dashed hopes at their respective senatorial districts where, contrary to a supposed understanding between the leadership of their political party; PDP, the Presidency and the leadership of the senate, they failed to secure their party’s tickets to enable them contest the forthcoming general elections and return to the National Assembly.
The PDP senators had been at daggers drawn with the leadership of their party, following the party’s complete surrender of the party machinery in the states to the governors in the quest to extract their support for the adoption of President Goodluck Jonathan, as the party’s sole candidate for the 2015 presidential election. The governors, having kept their part of the bargain with the national leadership of the party, embarked on self serving disbursement of tickets in their respective states, without any thoughts of the interest of senators representing their states at the National Assembly, many of whom were already gunning to return to the senate in 2015.
At the height of the battle with their party, the PDP senators refused to seat for days and threatened to frustrate the President who was then at the verge of sending in a request for the senate to endorse the extension of the partial emergency rule in three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states.
Sensing danger and a possible backlash against the 2015 ambitions of President Jonathan, the President prevailed on the Adamu Mu’azu led national leadership of the party to resolve the crisis. This in turn led to series of meetings and rapprochements where some senators whose governors were aiming to dislodge them were reassured of their return, while the governors, like Sullivan Chime of Enugu state and Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta state, shelved their senatorial ambitions to make way for the return of the deputy senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and others in that category.
A similar scenario, albeit on a lower scale, played out in the camp of the opposition All Progressive Congress, APC, where some senators also failed to pick the party’s ticket ahead of the 2015 polls. Despite the assurances of the senate leadership, at the end of the primaries, about 50 serving senators lost their bid to return to the red chambers having failed to secure their parties’ tickets with the worst hit being PDP senators.
Every election year since 2003, the senate has usually recorded mass exodus as many of the 109 senators fail to return, starting with losing re-election tickets, and then the election proper. And the scenario is set to repeat itself in 2015 when the Eight National Assembly will be inaugurated.
Reports indicate that across the 109 senatorial districts in the country, 50 out of the serving senators failed to get the nod of their parties to return . Many senators lost out in the highly charged political manouverings that characterized the primaries as some state governors exerted loads of influence in the bid to install their wards as reward for their support.
In states like Akwa Ibom where Governor Godswill Akpabio of the PDP wields enormous powers over who gets a political post, all the three senators representing the state currently at the senate lost out completely. Senators from Adamawa, Edo, Cross River and Kebbi states also suffered the same fate. With these outcomes, old timers in the senate, including Senate Leader, Victor Ndoma Egba, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Solomon Ita Enang and Bello Mohammed Tukur from Adamawa will not be returning to the senate after the elections.
In Abia, Delta, Ebonyi, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Kogi and Plateau states, two out of the three serving senators similarly lost their party’s ticket and would not be returning to the senate, at least not on the platform of their current party, the PDP. This situation in these states hailed the ambitions of senators Uche Chukwumerije, Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, Igwe Paulinus Nwagu, Gilbert Nnaji and Nenadi Esther Usman. Others include Margery Okadigbo, Nurudeen Abatemi Usman of Kogi Central, Boluwaji Kunlere of Ondo South; all of the PDP, as well as Mudashiru Oyetunde Husain of Osun West, APC.
Amongst these non returning senators however, are those who are sought for governorship positions like senators Aisha Jummai Arhassan of the Taraba state APC, Simeon Ajibola of the Kwara state PDP, Jibrila Mohammed Bindowo of Adamawa state APC, Benedict Ayade of the PDP in Cross River state, Ifeanyi Okowa, Delta state PDP, Ayogu Eze who unsuccessfully contested for the PDP governorship primary in Enugu state, Gyang Pwajok of Plateau State PDP, Umaru Dahiru of the APC in Sokoto state and Bagudu Abubakar Atiku of the APC Kebbi state.
Upon their return from the political fields after the primaries, those senators who lost out in their parties’ primaries blamed the national leadership of the senate for their woes. To them, especially those of the PDP fold, the senate leadership led by Senate President David Mark, had failed them after using them to defend the Presidency in the wake of the turbulence occassioned by the emergence of the breakaway faction of the party, the new PDP, as well as other numerous battles waged at the senate on behalf of the Presidency.
Joined by their folks at the opposition APC, the aggrieved senators mutted a change at the senate leadership with their grouse targeted at Mark for not doing enough to ensure their return. They started initiating moves to kick-start his removal as the senate President. One of the aggrieved senators of the PDP stock summed up their frustrations thus, “We thought the party would take note of what we did and also, note our loyalty to the party and reward us. Rather, we were not even protected in these primaries. Can you imagine the party leaving us at the mercy of governors?”
Some of the vocal and prominent PDP senators, who had defended the party by every available means whenever the opposition APC senators opposed some of President Jonathan’s policies were miffed that both the senate leadership and the National Working Committee of the party could not reciprocate the gesture in their favour. Instead they were left at the mercy of their state governors who are known to have other preferred candidates.
The aggrieved senators reportedly hijacked a pending plot by some senators to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Jonathan which was expected to be presented at its plenary, and refocused the impeachment drive against the senate President instead. Reports indicate that the Senate Minority Leader, George Akume and the Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki, were considered for a possible replacement for the senate President. The choice of either of the senators was said to be for the purpose of retaining the senate presidency in the north central.
The momentum gathered by the move against the senate President evoked a rash of denials from the senate which rose stoutly in defence of Mark. Leading the pack of Mark defenders was the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Information, Media and Public Affairs, Enyinnaya Abaribe, who vociferously dismissed the allegations of a plot to remove David Mark and described the reports as unfounded and misleading, existing only in the imagination of the author.
He claimed that the senate as presently constituted, is one united body which has not found its leadership wanting or in any kind of misdemeanor that could have warranted any plot to remove the senate president or any member of the leadership. He added that the senate under David Mark’s leadership has in existence, a well-tested internal mechanism through which it regulates its own activities if any wrong is detected. He reaffirmed that the senators had unflinching confidence in the senate leadership of Mark.
“Senators have implicit confidence in the leadership of the senate ably led by Mark and there is nothing now to suggest or confer any iota of truth on the media insinuation of any form of schism that could warrant the removal of the President of the Senate. Senators operating as a body of one united family, have never at any time found any ground to move against its leadership or even thwart the long-standing camaraderie the upper chamber is known for, irrespective of political party affiliation.” said Abaribe, who is not part of the aggrieved senators having retained the party’s ticket to contest and possibly return to the senate after the 2015 polls.
Following a similar pattern, Mark’s Media Adviser, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, also dismissed the alleged plot to remove his boss noting that there’s no such plot. He re echoed Abaribe’s position that the report of the plot to unseat his boss existed only in the imagination of the authors of the report.
The rush to nip Mark’s impeachment threat in the bud is understandable as his party, the PDP, in his state of Benue, had adopted him as its sole candidate for Benue south senatorial district ahead of the 2015 senatorial election and preparatory to his return as the senate president when the Eight National Assembly is inaugurated. His staunch political ally and minister of Interior, Comrade Abba Moro, who read a communique at Mark’s adoption stated that the senate President was adopted in recognition of his quality representation at the senate adding that the people of the zone were satisfied with his performance and have therefore pledged to support and re-elect him.
Mark’s state governor, Gabriel Suswam, had also announced that there is no vacancy in the Benue South senatorial seat presently occupied by Mark noting that the decision to return the senate President to the Senate in 2015 is irrevocable. “We in Benue state have endorsed the candidature of Mark to return to the Senate. The position of senator Mark is not contestable. We want him back and there is no question or argument about it. Mark remains our choice. There is no vacancy. As Benue state is united behind President Goodluck Jonathan for 2015, we are also solidly behind Mark for the 2015 senatorial seat,” Suswam added.
Senator Bukola Saraki, who was reportedly tipped as possible replacement for the senate President has also distanced himself from the alleged moves by aggrieved PDP senators to impeach Mark and stated that the masterminds are on their own.
A statement issued by his office in Abuja, categorically and unequivocally stated that the senator has no knowledge of and is not part of any plan by a group of senators or any individual to impeach the senate President. The senator categorically advised the aggrieved senators who lost out in the primaries to carry their own cross.“It is our candid opinion and belief that any senator who lost his bid to return to the senate should lay on his bed as he found it, and senators, as individuals, should bear their own cross”.