The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is launching investigation into the role played by its members in the election of leadership of the National Assembly.
PDP had adopted Senator Ali Ndume and Hon. Umar Bago as President of the Senate and Speaker of House of Representatives respectively, and directed its members in the National Assembly to vote accordingly.
However, the Senators and Reps elected on the platform of the PDP defied the opposition party and voted for other candidates.
In the contest, Senator Ahmad Lawan, who is the All Progressives Congress (APC’s) preferred candidate for Senate Presidency, polled a total of 79 votes to beat his only challenger, Ndume, who scored 28 votes.
In a similar circumstance, Senator Ovie Omo-Agege (APC, Delta Central), also floored Ike Ekweramadu, in the election of the Deputy Senate President.
Omo-Agege, whom many did not give a chance in the race, defeated Ekweramadu, the immediate past Deputy Senate President, by 68 votes to 37 votes.
The same scenario played out in the House of Representatives where Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila floored PDP’s choice and APC member-elect, Umar Bago.
Gbajabiamila secured 281 votes to Bago’s 76 in the House where PDP has 135 members.
The implication was that many PDP lawmakers defied the opposition to cast their votes for their preferred candidates.
In the race for Senate Presidency, PDP’s candidate and APC senator – Ali Ndume – did not garner the entire 44 votes of the PDP senators. Even with Ekweremadu on the ballot, the numbers still fell short of PDP’s population.
Consequently, the National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, at the PDP’s 86th National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting yesterday, described the election as a bazaar, adding that the positions went to the highest bidder.
He expressed displeasure at what it called the embarrassing roles played by some PDP members in the National Assembly during the election.
Secondus reminded the members in the National Assembly that party loyalty demands that they stick to the party at any given situation.
“When personal interest clash with party interest, personal should drown into that of the party, that’s what real democrats are expected to do,” he added.
According to the National Chairman, the level of corruption that preceded the emergence of the National Assembly leadership was capable of undermining the desired robust legislative activities.
He regretted that the APC that claimed to be fighting corruption was the one perpetrating the vote buying.
“The bazaar that took place during the election of National Assembly leaders clearly gives a picture of the anti-corruption status and how the APC has become home for looters,” Secondus stated.
He noted that the introduction of ‘green card’, ‘vote and snap’ fraud by the ruling party during the election was an unprecedented dimension to the growing corruption index of the administration.
The party chairman pointed out that the consequences “this brazen corruption would have in the legislative activities of the 9th Assembly” began with the refusal of the Senate to kill a motion to debate the June 12 speech of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Only a conquered parliament with credibility challenge can shy away from discussing a major address of a president just sworn into office, but that is a sign of what is to come when choosing legislative leadership in heavily monetized by a regime that claims to be fighting corruption.
“Having ‘purchased’ the leadership of the parliament, we expect the cabals to now fully take over and dictate the show at the legislature,” he said.
He noted that the hopelessness in the security situation in the country was underlined in the recent statement of the military hierarchy early in the week trying to blame the soldiers for the continued Boko Haram incursions.
“This is after they had severally declared the Boko Haram sect to be technically defeated.
“The killing of soldiers and civilians by Boko Haram terrorists in the North-East and the bandits in the NorthWest has continued unabated.
“Few weeks ago, angry youths in Katsina, the home state of the president, had to dump the bodies of 18 persons killed by the bandits in government house for the government to bury and taste the pain of burying.
“How else can a people whose government cannot provide basic things like security demonstrate their anger and frustrations?
“The truth remains that under the watch of President Buhari and APC, Nigeria and her citizens have been degraded and people are no longer proud of their country,” he stated.
Senate Minority Leader, Enyinniya Abaribe, assured that party members in the National Assembly will put APC government on its toes.
He described President Buhari’s June 12 speech as empty and a fantasy.
PDP National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, who briefed journalists at the end of the meeting, said a committee whose membership has not been disclosed, would unravel what went wrong in the election of the leadership of the National Assembly.
In a swift reaction, National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, dismissed the allegations of the opposition, saying the ruling party does not have a culture of bribing anyone in a bid to win an election.
Issa-Onilu described the allegation as a plot by the PDP to seek relevance through persistent attacks on the ruling party.
“It is not in the tradition of our party to bribe. You saw the way we did our elections, we didn’t go to CBN to open the vault and move millions of dollars like the PDP did in 2015 to do general election, how much more National Assembly election where we have clear majority,” he said.
Similarly, Acting spokesperson for the House of Representatives, Hon. Khadijat Bukar Abba-Ibrahim said there was nothing like a “bazaar’ or ‘highest bidder” as alluded by the PDP leadership.
Abba-Ibrahim denied that there was any inducement from the APC to anybody to vote for the Senate President, Speaker and their deputies.
According to her, the APC had an overwhelming majority in both houses and the members of the party worked in tandem with the directive of the party leading to the emergence of the presiding officers.
She said the APC presented credible and competent candidates, hence the opposition parties had no choice but to vote for them. “What happened was that our party presented credible and competent lawmakers and the opposition too had no choice but to vote along with us.
“We did not participate in any bazaar, neither was there anything like voting for the highest bidder. As far as I know, there was no inducement, but members voted out of their own volition. So for anyone to insinuate that it was a bazaar is not correct.
“The APC only proved to Nigerians that it is poised to navigate the next level and it is really reformed and prepared for governance,” she said.
On his part, spokesman of the 8th Senate, Aliyu Sabi, said that the elections of the presiding officers were purely internal affairs of the lawmakers, which did not need input from external bodies.
He said: “”If PDP people had won, they won’t be talking about bazaar or no bazaar.
“They are now talking about vote-buying because their attempt to rock our boat failed. The promises we made are being implemented. Elections have come and gone, it’s time to work together as people holding the mandate of the citizens in trust.”