Plan by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to probe its members for voting the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidates in the recent election of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President as well as the House of Representatives Speaker and Deputy Speaker is now causing ripples in the opposition party.
Although the PDP directed its members to back Alhaji Ali Ndume for Senate President and Umar Bago for House of Reps Speaker, the result of the elections showed that many of the lawmakers ignored their party’s directive.
Spokesman for the PDP, Kola Ologondiyan, told reporters at the end of the 86th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting of the party that a committee would soon be set up to unravel the roles played by PDP legislators in the election of the leadership of the National Assembly. Ologbondiyan’s announcement is now causing disquiet within the party with members taking different positions.
Earlier during the meeting, the National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus, had condemned what he called the disloyal attitude of PDP senators and Reps members who defied the directives of the opposition party and voted for Senator Ahmed Lawan and Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila. Shortly after Lawan and Gbajabiamila emerged winners the PDP had first said it would not sanction its senators and members of the House of Representatives for not heeding the directive of the party on the candidates to vote for during the election.
The party’s Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Diran Odeyemi, said, “There is nothing new in what happened and it is not unexpected… There is no reason to sanction anyone and come to think of it, it was an open secret balloting which does not leave room for identifying who voted for or against the party’s directive.”
Hours to the NASS leadership elections, the PDP had adopted Senator Ali Ndume and Hon. Umar Bago as its choices for Senate President and Speaker respectively. It thereafter directed its members in the upper and lower chambers to vote accordingly. However, many Senators and Reps elected on the platform of the party defied the directives and voted for other candidates.
In the contest, Senator Lawan garnered 79 votes to beat PDP backed Ndume, who scored 28 votes. Also, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege of the APC defeated Senator Ike Ekweramadu of the PDP in the election of the Deputy Senate President, scoring 68 votes to his opponent’s 37 votes.
Gbajabiamila floored PDP’s choice, Bago. The results confirmed that many PDP lawmakers gave their votes to the APC backed candidates contrary to PDP’s directives.
“This is easy to establish because both Ndume and Ekweremadu did not secure the entire 44 votes of the PDP senators. Bago’s total vote scored also fell extremely short of the numbers of members we have in the House of Representatives,” a party source told our correspondent while justifying the decision of the party to investigate the voting pattern of its members, and possibly punish erring members at the end of the investigations. He expressed displeasure at what it called the embarrassed by the roles played by some PDP members in the National Assembly during the election.
“Their personal interest clashed with party interest, and they failed to do what is expected of them by allowing personal interests to drown that of the party. The party is indeed embarrassed and our leaders have decided to ensure that henceforth, party discipline is taken seriously,” he added.
Sources told The Nation that many chieftains of the party are opposed to moves to probe the matter. According to very reliable party sources, Secondus’ decision to announce a committee that will probe the voting pattern of the lawmakers is at best a “personal opinion backed by a few aggrieved party leaders who suffered personal losses due to the outcome of the elections.”
A party leader from the southeastern part of the country confided in our correspondent that some PDP governors have expressed their dissatisfaction with the announcement ,and urged the party leadership to put the development behind it and concentrate on providing quality opposition to the ruling APC. It was also learnt that many PDP Senators and Reps members have vowed not to appear before the committee if ever constituted.
“Take for example, the governor of my state who openly endorsed Gbajabiamila when the later visited him; will he allow federal lawmakers from his state to be ridiculed by the committee? A ranking Senator from a South-South state went round with Senator Lawan during the campaign for Senate Presidency, what will the party do about that? The senator has even vowed not to appear before the committee.
“Aside governors and Senators, many party chieftains were taken by surprise to hear the announcement by Secondus. “He didn’t consult widely before saying what he said. Don’t also forget that when he was asked a few days after the election of Lawan and Gbajabiamila if the PDP would punish its members who voted for the duo, he said the party would not do anything of such. That is exactly his personal opinion. “We have it on good authority that the new decision to probe and punish is the idea of one of our governors in the South-south who felt personally insulted by the outcome of the elections.
This governor, had also without consulting others, influenced the last minute directive given by Secondus to our legislators to vote Ndume and Bago. They think they own PDP. More shocks await them.”
The Nation gathered that some PDP governors, senators and other chieftains have formally protested to the National Chairman, expressing their objection to the decision to probe the outcome of the NASS leadership election. It was gathered that many of them warned the national leadership of the party to avoid any action capable of throwing the party into a fresh crisis while urging it to rescind its decision to investigate ‘a dead issue that is of no significance to the growth of the party.’