Senate President David Mark has told President Goodluck Jonathan and the ruling Peoples Democratic Patty (PDP) that he would not declare any Senator’s seat vacant following the imminent defection of members of the nPDP to the opposition APC, Sunday Trust heard in Abuja yesterday.
Mark had on September 17 this year told the Alhaji Abubakar Kawu Baraje leadership of the nPDP that he would not declare any senator’s seat vacant as a result of the factionalisation of the ruling party.
PDP National Chairman Alhaji Bamanga Tukur had then threatened that the defecting lawmakers in the National Assembly risked losing their seat in parliament.
A ranking senator who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Sunday Trust yesterday that, on Wednesday, the Presidency and the PDP met with the Senate President at the presidential villa where they asked him to immediately declare the defecting senators seats vacant.
“But the Senate president told them that he would not do that because no senator has written to him formally notifying him of his intention to leave the PDP. He also told them that even if a senator writes, it is not in his powers to do so as only the courts can make such a declaration,” the senator said.
With 12 PDP senators joining the APC, the party now has 41 legislators in the Red Chamber. Bello Hayatu Gwarzo, the Senate Chief Whip, has declined to join the APC. From Rivers State, senators Magnus Abe and Wilson Asinobi Ake are with Governor Rotimi Ameachi. Also the three Sokoto senators, namely Ahmed Mohammed Maccido, Umaru Dahiru Tambuwal and Ibrahim Abdullahi Gobir are now in the APC.
In the same vein, senators Abubakar Bukola Saraki and Mohammed Lafiagi are with the APC while Senator Simeon Ajibola told journalists yesterday that he has never identified with the G7 group and will remain in the main stream PDP.
Some PDP senators who have fallen out with their governors had in September identified with the G22. They include Aisha Jummai Alhassan from Taraba State.
Similarly, senators Mohammed Danjuma Goje and Saidu Ahmed Alkali from Gombe State are with the nPDP, but it not is clear if they too will join the APC. Already, the Labour Party (LP) has two senators from Ondo State and one from Plateau State.
From Nasarawa State, former governor Abdullahi Adamu has joined the APC, while it is not clear whether Suleiman Adoke, who has been part of the nPDP faction has joined the APC.
The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) has Senator Chris Anyanwu from Imo State as its only senator. The ruling PDP still controls the Senate with 59 senators in its fold.
While Senator Simeon Ajibola (PDP, Kwara), believed the merger would not shake the PDP because, to him, most of those who left for the APC are lightweight politicians, Senator Ahmad Lawan (APC, Yobe), has described it as a new development in the political evolution of Nigeria. To him “it will deepen and entrench democracy in our journey as a nation since there will be a stronger opposition which is as larger and bigger as the ruling party at the centre.”
Senator Lawan maintained that Nigerians would now benefit from the rivalry of manifestos and programmes of the two major political parties.
Sources in the Senate said the defecting senators might have decided not to formally announce their defection on the floor of the Senate but will continue to identify with the APC “until the right time”.