The opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) has directed all legislators elected on its platform to vote for the duo of Sen Ali Ndume and Hon Mohammed Bago for the positions of senate president and speaker respectively, in today’s national assembly elections.
Ndume and Bago are APC members, but aren't the governing party's handpicked candidates for the offices.
The 9th national assembly convenes and elects its presiding and principal officers today, June 11, 2019.
The PDP directive is a clear departure from the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) riot act to its legislators.
The APC has endorsed Sen Ahmad Lawan and Hon Femi Gbajabiamila for the offices of senate president and speaker respectively.
Pulse has learnt that in a deal reached by certain camps in the ranks of the senators-elect, should Ndume and Bago emerge, PDP senator Ike Ekweremadu and PDP Rep Leo Ogor would be voted in for the offices of Deputy Senate President and Deputy Speaker respectively.
The PDP played a similar card in 2015, with Bukola Saraki and Yakubu Dogara emerging as senate president and speaker respectively. Both men were not the APC's choices for the positions even though they were APC members at the time.
Ekweremadu, a PDP senator, was elected deputy senate president of the 8th senate.
The National Working Committee (NWC) of the PDP arose from a late night meeting held on Monday, June 10 and resolved to throw its weight behind Ndume and Bago.
A game of numbers
The APC has 62 senators on its books while the PDP has 44 senators elected on its platform.
Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus says his party would not stand by and watch the APC turn the nation into a dictatorship.
Secondus says the APC has already muzzled the judiciary, the press and that should the governing party be allowed its way, it would seize the legislature and turn the national assembly into a rubber stamp.
“Indications are clearly showing that full-blown dictatorship is brewing in our country”, Secondus says.
“When a supposed democratic government brazenly muscles all the other arms of government, the legislature, the Judiciary, and even the press, the fourth estate of the realm, we should be worried at what is loading in our polity”, he adds.
Secondus adds that his warning has become absolutely germane given the dictatorial tendencies of the APC administration as seen in the last four years, and their continuous propensity to disregard the rule of law and other principles of democracy.
According to the PDP boss, intelligence available to the party shows that the presidency and the APC have concluded plans to use intimidation and coercion against legislators not ready to do their bidding and foist handpicked leaders on the legislators.
Secondus also asked legislators of the 9th assembly to guard their independence jealously and reject intimidation tactics that would be deployed in today’s election.
The APC claims that about 61 senators-elect (out of 109) have pledged to vote for Lawan on Tuesday.
The party also claims that about 230 Reps (out of 360) have pledged their votes for Gbajabiamila.
The NWC of the APC has also adopted Sen Ovie Omo-Agege for the position of Deputy Senate President and Hon. Muhammed Idris Wase for the office of Deputy Speaker.
The NWC of the APC held emergency meetings from Saturday June 8 to Sunday June 9, 2019 to arrive at these decisions.
The APC has been working round the clock to ensure that what transpired in the 8th senate in 2015--when senate presidential and speakership candidates who weren't endorsed by the party won the elections--doesn't repeat itself.
The APC has often reminded its legislators to toe the official party line on all matters on the basis of a doctrine called “party supremacy”.
There has been plenty of horse trading, deal cutting and midnight consultation meetings ahead of today's vote, with politicians booking all flights into Abuja and all hotels in Nigeria's capital city.
Voting for presiding and principal officers of the national assembly would commence at about 10am on June 11, 2019. Pulse would bring you all that transpires from the venue LIVE.