How PDP Outwitted APC with Saraki’s Adoption as Senate President by Chuks Okocha

DAVID MARK

The meeting took place at the residence of the former Senate President, David Mark, at the Apo legislators quarters, and had in attendance 47 senators-elect, with Mark and Ike Ekweremadu presiding.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) National Working Committee (NWC) members led by the acting National Chairman, Prince Uche Secondus, and other NWC members were also in attendance.

The PDP members had three options to weigh: either to adopt Senator Bukola Saraki, present and support a neutral candidate as the Senate president, or to support Senator Ahmad Lawan.

The option of adopting Lawan was quickly dismissed, just as the second option of supporting a neutral candidate was also knocked out. Then came the first option of adopting Saraki as the PDP candidate.

However, at this juncture, the meeting was divided. But after deliberation, the matter was put to vote. After the vote, 28 PDP senators wanted Saraki adopted while 16 of the party’s senators wanted to adopt a neutral candidate.

THISDAY, however, gathered that Senators Mark and Ekweremadu abstained from voting while one vote was voided.

It was at this stage that the meeting agreed that Saraki should be supported having polled 28 votes among the 49 PDP senators present.

Having taken the decision, the former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, got up and spoke on behalf of those in support of the PDP senators who were favour of sponsoring a neutral candidate for the Senate presidency.

He said since democracy was all about abiding by the decision of the majority, he and his colleagues had decided to support the majority decision.

At this stage, the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Senator Godswill Akpabio, stepped into the meeting and was briefed on what had transpired at the meeting.

Upon being brought up to speed on what had happened in his absence, he said  he was in total agreement with the decision that had been taken.

The meeting then ushered in Saraki to inform him of the decision taken by the PDP to adopt him and vote for him during the election.  The meeting came to an end at about 1.05a.m. Tuesday morning.

To reaffirm the decision of the PDP senators, the National Publicity Secretary, of the party, Olisa Metuh, sent out a statement at 1.16a.m., which read: “The PDP has adopted Senator Bukola Saraki for the position of Senate President.

In the same vein, the PDP adopted Hon. Yakubu Dogara for the position of the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The party therefore urged its senators and members-elect in the National Assembly to act accordingly.”

When the news filtered out in the wee hours of Tuesday that the PDP had adopted Saraki as its candidate for the senate presidency, the National Publicity Secretary of All Progressives Congress (APC), Lai Mohammed, sent out a message that President Muhammadu Buhari would be meeting the APC National Assembly members at the International Conference at 9a.m.

This was despite the fact that there was a subsisting letter from Buhari that the National Assembly would be inaugurated at 10a.m.

By 8.30a.m., the APC lawmakers had arrived the International Conference Centre for their meeting with Buhari, and by 9a.m., many of them were seated.

But as they waited in vain for Buhari’s arrival, at 10.15a.m., news filtered in that the Senate was being inaugurated and election of the Senate president about to take place.

With this news, the APC lawmakers scampered to their cars and started rushing to the National Assembly. But their movement was hindered by the heavy traffic within the Central Business Area of Abuja.

In what under normal circumstances should take between 10 to 20 minutes to drive to the Three Arms Zone where the National Assembly complex is located, it took some of the APC National Assembly members more than 40  to 50 minutes to get to the gate of the complex.

By the time they arrived in the Senate chamber, they were indeed late and therefore could not vote.

However, some supporters of Lawan who were present, did not vote as they could not understand what was happening, especially when the Clerk of the National Assembly, Abubakar Salisu Maikasuwa, called for nominations after Saraki had been nominated.

At this stage, the former Governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwanso, and Kabiru Marafa walked out of the Senate chamber.

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