Nigeria: How Senate Leader Failed to Stop Mass Defection From APC

Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki

There was mild drama in the Senate on Tuesday as the Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, tried to stop the mass defection of some lawmakers from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

PREMIUM TIMES reported how 15 senators left the ruling party, Majority announced they were joining the main opposition party, PDP.

They said they made the decision to decamp after due consultation with their constituents and stakeholders in their constituencies.

Shortly after the letter of the first 14 lawmakers was read by the Senate President, Mr Lawan stood up to oppose the defection. He said disagreement in the APC does not translate to factionalisation of the party, which is the basis upon which a lawmaker could abandon his party.

The chamber was then thrown into a rowdy session as the newly-defected lawmakers disagreed with his statement and tried to stop him from talking.

However, after a few moment, Mr Lawan continued. He said it is true the APC has its own internal challenges and members have internal disagreements.

He, however, demanded that the announcement of defections be "contained" so as to let leaders of the party address the issue.

"We all know how so much efforts by so many stakeholders to address the issues that bedevil this party and disagreements do not translate to factionalisation.

"I feel our senators of the APC stock will not have to move to another other party. I also believe that because the issues are under serious discussion by the major leaders and stakeholders of this party, I will ask Mr President that, that announcement be quarantined - contained; and give us leaders of the party an opportunity to use all avenues to address.

"Mr President, very seriously speaking, this matter should be stepped down until we exhaust...

In his response, Mr Saraki made reference to the absence of the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, at plenary due to the siege laid by security operatives at his Abuja residence.

"Your point of explanation is noted. I'm sure that you have seen the seat beside you is absent. As we speak now, the deputy senate president cannot get out of his house, he's under siege," he said, saying he escaped a similar experience.

"This is not something that has started today, it will not end today. People have gone and come back, but these kind of actions do not allow for what you are speaking. You have been here for many years and as such - DSP - as we are speaking cannot come out of his house," he said.

He thereafter announced that another senator, Abdulazeez Nyako, added his name to the list of defectors.

Mr Saraki said he noted the Senate leader's stance, but could not prevent lawmakers from leaving the APC.

"I don't believe it should come to this level where people are kept under siege for something at the end of the day is personal to them. So it is noted," he added.

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