NASS Leadership: With Saraki, Dogara, New PDP Finally Shares In APC Power Equation

Tuesday’s election of former Kwara State Governor, Bukola Saraki, as Senate President, and Yakubu Dogara as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, has effectively given the defunct “new” Peoples Democratic Party, nPDP, a place in the power equation within the All Progressives Congress.
Both Messrs Saraki and Dogara belonged to the nPDP, a breakaway faction of the then ruling PDP, which fused into the APC in October 2013.
The APC, registered in July 2013, is a product of the merger talks between four defunct opposition parties.
The parties are the Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change, All Nigeria Peoples Party and a section of the All Progressives Grand Alliance.
With its fusion into the new party, the nPDP became not just the fifth block within the APC but a major one having come with five governors, former Vice President Atiku and other senior members of the PDP, including a former acting national chairman, Kawu Baraje.
The former governors are Aliyu Wammako (Sokoto), Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa), Rabi’u Kwankwaso (Kano) and Andulfatah Ahmed (Kwara). Though they belong to the nPDP, Sule Lamido (Jigawa), Babangida Aliyu (Niger) stayed back in the mainstream PDP.
In December 2013, about 37 members of the House of Representatives, who were from the nPDP, defected to the APC while Mr. Saraki led 10 other senators to join the new party in January 2104.
The senators were Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Mohammed Ndume (Borno South), Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), Magnus Abe (Rivers South East), Wilson Ake (Rivers West), Bindo Jubrilla (Adamawa North), Abdullahi Gobir (Sokoto East) and Aisha Alhassan (Taraba North).
Obviously, the entry of the PDP members strengthened the new party.
However, in the months that followed, the composition of the national leadership of the party did not quite favour the PDP entrants. Apart from producing the deputy national chairman (South), Segun Oni, the nPDP did not pick another major position in the APC.
While the ANPP produced the national chairman in John Oyegun, the ACN produced the deputy national chairman, Lawal Shuaibu.
The ACN block is believed to have cornered more positions apparently because of the perception that it was the senior partner in the merger of the parties. It came to the merger with six governors and several senators. ANPP came with three states while and CPC and APGA had one each.
In the build up to the presidential primary election of the APC, five members of the party showed interest.
While Muhammadu Buhari came from the CPC bloc, Messrs Atiku and Kwankwaso came from the nPDP bloc and Governor Rochas Okorocha came from the APGA block. The fifth aspirant, Sam Nda-Isaiah, was not a member of any blocs having joined the APC after its birth.
Although, Mr. Buhari of the CPC picked the presidential ticket, his deputy, Yemi Osinbanjo, a protégé of a national leader of the party, Bola Tinubu, was nominated from the ACN segment of the APC.
Those conversant with the workings and intrigues in the APC say the nPDP bloc merely saw the opportunity to fill the National Assembly leadership positions as one that it would not miss.
Consequently, Messrs. Saraki, Dogara, Abdulmumin Jubril and a few others showed interest in occupying the office of Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives.
The Senate Minority Leader, George Akume, who was a member of ACN and Ahmed Lawan from the ANPP block also showed interest in the race for Senate Presidency.
However, Messrs Akume and Lawan later teamed up to run on a single ticket as senate president and deputy senate president.
The joint Lawan-Akume ticket, allegedly engineered by Mr. Tinubu, left Mr. Saraki as the only contenders from the nPDP.
Indeed, during the campaign for the positions of the leadership of the National Assembly, they frowned at the overbearing influence of the former Lagos State governor. For instance, the straw election conducted by the leadership of the APC was the handiwork of Mr. Tinubu, the lawmakers believe.
They believe Mr. Tinubu, who was the leader of the ACN, promoted the candidacy of his fellow Lagos man, Femi Gbajabiamila, who was the minority leader in the House of Representatives.
Not a few believe that the former governor worked and partly bankrolled the election of Mr. Buhari as the APC presidential candidate last December.


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