With the recent upheavals in Nigeria’s political space, some members of the Senate are expected to defect from their parties in the coming days.
The speculation on the defection has been on for a long time but reached new heights on July 4 when a faction of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) announced the formation of a new party bloc, tagged Reformed APC, simply R-APC.
The group comprises mostly members of nPDP, and defunct CPC, ANPP and ACN.
A week later, the R-APC and 37 other parties signed a memorandum for a coalition that will ensure the defeat of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led APC come 2019.
Some senators were featured in this turn of events and several on–the-side consultations fueled the possibility of massive decamping.
Below are some senator who may leave their party soon and why
Since the breakaway from APC, Mr Saraki has not publicly announced whether he is part of the disgruntled R-APC or not. But many expect him to change party soon, especially as he has been seen holding meetings with PDP leaders and as some of his supporters have left APC.
Bukola Saraki Senate President
Mr Saraki’s travails in the APC is connected to his long-standing cold war with the presidency which started right from his inauguration as Senate President. After his swearing-in, Mr Saraki was slammed with forgery, false assets declaration and sundry charges by the federal government. Though acquitted, many of Mr Saraki’s supporters believe he is being harasssed for standing his ground against the presidency.
The Kogi West Senator is not keeping silent his bias on defection. After returning to the Senate in June, Mr Melaye requested to sit in the opposition wing of the Senate chamber. He has been sitting there since then and was also spotted at the venue of MoU signing of the Coalition of United Political Parties (CUPP). He also released a video where he claimed he missed his ‘home’, the PDP.
The unending political feud between Mr Melaye, and Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello is a major factor forcing the lawmaker out of APC. Having survived a recall process which he believed was orchestrated by Mr Bello, Mr Melaye will likely make his defection back to PDP in coming days.
The Kaduna Central Senator has hinted of his imminent defection in interviews and social media posts in recent times. Mr Sani would want out of APC primarily because of his feud with Governor Nasir El-Rufai.
The crisis dates back to 2015 when, after the elections, Mr El-Rufai made some appointments, and Mr Sani and others felt disregarded and marginalised.
Mr Sani has not been silent all along, criticising most of the policies of the state government and the governor’s party activities. When he was suspended from the party in 2017, he accused the governor of masterminding his ordeal.
His last words on defection was that he was still making consultations.
Like Mr Sani, the Kaduna North
senator may leave APC because of his feud with Mr El-Rufai.
The genesis of their disagreement is difficult to trace given the fact that Mr Hunkuyi’s younger brother was appointed commissioner and his elder, Idris Othman, was for many years a close associate of the governor.
Although his has not been as rough as the feud between him and Shehu Sani, all indications point that there is no love lost between him and the governor. Just recently, as in many other occasions, Mr Hunkuyi vowed to “do everything possible” to vote Mr El-Rufai out in 2019 governorship election in the state.
In February, the Kaduna State Governmemt demolished a building belonging to a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the state. Mr Hunkuyi, a leader of one of ‘Restoration APC,’ alleged that the demolition was masterminded by the state.
The score still lingers and may force the senator out of the party.
Though without any known confrontations, Mr Lafiagi is believed to be part of aggrieved senators who may defect from APC due to his loyalty to Mr Saraki.
The struggle for political space in Zamfara state has brought the governor, Abdulaziz Yari, and Senator representing Zamfara Central, Kabiru Marafa, at loggerheads in recent times.
The political quagmire took an interesting dimension in November 2017, when the senator alleged that the governor was not an indigene of the state. This followed the Senate’s refusal to confirm nomination of Ahmad Bello Mahmud as REC nominee for the state on the strength of a petition written to the committee on INEC by Mr Yari. In another appearance at plenary, Mr Marafa alleged that the governor and his deputy knew the militias laying siege on the state.
Mr Yari, in his response to the allegation said in a statement by his Special Adviser, Salisi Isah, that the senator’s comments were ‘mischievous, callous and misleading’.
The governor went further to threaten Mr Marafa’s 2019 ambition. “Yes we are going to kill him politically, we are going to bury his political ambition in 2019. He wants to be governor, he is not going to get it, even the Senate, he is not going to return,” he said in a statement.
The feud continues even as Mr Marafa was spotted at the venue of the signing of the CUPP MOU.
The Niger North Senator is not known to be having difficulty with his governor or any bigwig in his political party but he may defect due to his affiliation with R-APC members.
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
The handwritings are clearly written on the wall, suggesting the the former Kano State governor, Mr Kwankwaso, will make official his return to PDP soon. This may be borne out of two reason: first, his feud with the state Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje and his presidential ambition.
Early July, he boasted of his ability to defeat President Buhari if fielded by PDP.
“I’m a free man now and available to try my luck elsewhere but I know that PDP is the biggest party and as long as they follow democratic principle, Buhari will easily be defeated, but if they handpick and force any candidate on the party, they will fail,” he said.
The 2019 ambition of the senator representing Borno North appears capable of instigating his defection. His ambition is putting him at loggerheads with the Governor Kashim Shettima of the state.
The senator, who is currently nursing an ambition of occupying the state government house is not in the best of relationships with the governor who many believe is eyeing the northern senatorial seat in 2019.
To neutralise Mr Kyari’s ambition, Mr Shettima was said to have initiated moves to draft the senator representing the central senatorial district, Baba Kaka Garbai, into the governorship race to succeed him.
Mr Kyari may have to leave APC if his ambition will ever materialise.
The Kebbi APC has been battling with the emergence of two warring factions: “Buhari/Bagudu 4+4 (BB4+4)” and “Buhari/Bagudu Support Organisation (BBSO)” led by different political figures in the state.
Even though he had vowed to support their proscription, the crisis seems unending. Beyond this and more importantly, the preparation to win re-election in 2019 is staring the senator right in the eyes.
The senator , in an interview in September 2017 said, ‘nothing good can ever comes out of PDP’ but he was part of a meeting of aggrieved senators in May where the options of return to PDP or seeking fresh grounds topped the agenda.
The senator has been accused of hijacking the Gombe APC due to his overwhelming influence. To solve this, the national headquarters of the APC last year disbanded officials of the party in Gombe State and inaugurated a caretaker committee
But the crisis continues with no love lost between the Chairman of the committee, Bala Jibrin, and Mr Goje, sometimes degenerating into physical attacks by their supporters.
Mr Goje is one of the senators making consultations on their next moves.
Mr Misau has not hidden his displeasure towards the government of President Buhari especially in his comments on the Nigeria Police and its leadership.
In January, Mr Misau said the Buhari administration was populated with incompetent people who have now taken over the reins, with some of them acting as though they are above the president. His open confrontation with the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, whom he accused of corruption and incompetence also pitched him against the presidency.
Mr Misau also questioned Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption war citing the example of Babachir Lawal, the former SGF who was accused of embezzling funds meant for IDPs and still walking scot-free, including being a frequent visitor to the presidential villa.
With this affront coupled with his involvement in underground consultations, the Bauchi lawmaker may be on his way out of APC.
They may not have been involved in major crises but these senators have been part of underground meetings, especially with the CUPP:
Bala Ibn. Na’Allah
Story by Reuben Abati, former presidential spokesman.