The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is now in charge of the leadership of the National Assembly and, save for a change of the current presiding officers, the party will determine the legislative direction of the parliament for the next nine months.
The eventual takeover of the legislative arm of government by the PDP became possible yesterday with the defection of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the PDP.
Dogara’s defection to the PDP came barely two months after Senate President Bukola Saraki ditched APC for the PDP. Saraki doubles as the chairman of the National Assembly while Dogara is the deputy.
With this development, three out of the four presiding officers of the National Assembly are now in PDP. Saraki, Dogara and Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu belong to one fold while Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Sulaiman Lasun Yusuf, is a lone APC member at the top leadership level.
Leadership Friday can report that Lasun is an aggrieved member of the APC in the aftermath of the Osun State governorship primary election and going by his recent utterances about the party.
It would be recalled that some constituents had last week reportedly obtained PDP nomination forms for Dogara to recontest the seat of Bogoro/DassTafawa Balewa federal constituency of Bauchi State in the House of Representatives, a development which gave credence to the speculations of his possible defection to PDP from APC.
APC swiftly reacted penultimate Thursday, describing Dogara as a paper-weight politician and inconsequential in his home state of Bauchi.
The APC national publicity secretary, Yekini Nabena, who released the party’s statement in Abuja on Dogara’s earlier reported defection to the PDP, said the Speaker fitted those described by President Muhammadu Buhari as “the weakest people whose senses of expectation do not align with our vision.”
Meanwhile, at the brief event to submit his nomination forms at the PDP national headquarters in Abuja yesterday, Dogara declared that he was still in shock over his decision to leave his former party.
He further dared those who threatened to retire him from politics to meet him at the polls even as he described the APC as a party full of bouncers, adding that he would rather be hated for who he is than be loved for who he is not.
Dogara said he was still in shock over happenings within the APC, particularly at the national level, adding that he would reserve the details for another occasion.
He said, “When I recover from my shock, I will now tell my story in a way that is devoid of sentiment so that people can clearly understand the reason why I am taking the decision that leads me to the PDP today. And I will certainly do that.
“But permit me to say that in the APC when we moved in, obviously they are not all devils. There are wonderful people in APC but there are equally some people who have a ravenously wayward sense of personal entitlement.
“And this really is the problem with the APC. When it serves their interests, they say the party is supreme. When it doesn’t serve their interests, they castigate the party, including the leadership of the party. They do what they will while others are required to do what they must. And in such environment, I am disabled.
“We have a lot of bouncers in the party. And in such a situation where I had a very clear conscience, even though a lot of people were happy with me, but I can tell you that I would rather be hated for who I am than be loved for who I am not”.
Explaining his decision to return to the PDP, the Speaker noted, “I have decided to come back to my original root because the truth is that when we went into APC after the general elections, there was never an occasion in which we were not reminded that we do not belong.
“When there are discussions, you will hear reference to the fact that those who joined us from the PDP are our problem. So, that discussion will end from today since we have left.
“So, I have decided to join my brothers – members of this great party, the PDP, so that we can chart a new frontier in our state, Bauchi, and for our dear nation, Nigeria.”
The Speaker explained he was not quitting the ruling party because he was afraid of losing the party’s ticket to contest in 2019.
“I am not bothered about contesting election; what bothers me is the state of my state; the situation of our people and the state of this country. So, even if you give me a ticket to work in a situation where my conscience is totally not aligned with, to be candid, I cannot function effectively there,” he said.
Speaking on the relationship between him and the governor of Bauchi State, Mohammed Abubakar, the Speaker said he was ready for the challenge of those who said they would retire him from politics.
Speaking for the party, the deputy national chairman of the PDP, Elder Yemi Akinwunmi, welcomed the Speaker and hailed the capability he showed in managing the House of Representatives.
He, however, noted that there will be a time when the party would formally welcome him.
Lawmakers Set For Stormy Session On Resumption
Barring any last-minute change, both chambers of the National Assembly will open for legislative business on Tuesday, September 25, 2015, after the annual vacation embarked upon by lawmakers since July 2018.
PLUSMILA MEDIA Friday learnt from credible sources that APC and PDP lawmakers are set for a showdown over the decisions of Saraki and Dogara to quit the ruling party.
While APC maintains a slim majority in the Senate, it still commands an overwhelming majority in the House.
However, there are indications that the Assembly may not resume on the said date owing to party primaries slated for about same time in order to allow members of the National Assembly, who are aspirants, to participate.