Senate: Lawan, Saraki split PDP senators, governors

By The Citizen
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Plans to get Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators-elect and members of the House of Representatives-elect to vote en bloc for principal officers during today's inauguration of the Eighth National Assembly collapsed yesterday.

There was also a split among the PDP governors on who to support between Senator Ahmed Lawan and Senator Bukola Saraki for Senate president.

Some senators and members-elect rejected the suggestion by Ekiti State Governor Ayodele Fayose that PDP senators should vote Saraki.

Lawan at the weekend emerged the choice candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after a mock election by the party's senators-elect. But the Saraki camp rejected the straw poll and vowed to contest for the position on the floor today.

The APC is the majority party in the Senate, with 59 senators-elect. The PDP has 49 senators.

It was learnt that at a meeting held by the PDP caucus on Sunday night in former Senate  President David Mark's residence in Apo, Abuja, the divided PDP senators-elect and their governors were said to have threatened to draft one of them into the race if the APC failed to agree on a consensus candidate.

Some of the PDP senators said to be rooting for Saraki allegedly suggested that they should forge a vibrant opposition on Tuesday by voting against the APC consensus choice as a signal of what form of opposition to expect in the Senate in the new dispensation.

The PDP senators were said to have contended that voting against APC's preferred candidate would signpost a resolute stand to keep the PDP alive.

A source at the meeting said a former principal officer in the Seventh Senate was the brain behind the proposal.

The source said most of the senators disagreed vehemently with the suggestion.

Those opposed to the suggestion, it was learnt, averred that toeing the line of action would only serve the interest of a few, particularly the governors, rather than that of the PDP as a party.

The source noted that most of the senators agreed that 'we should wait and see what the APC senators will come up with'.

He said: 'The surprise of the night was that some of the governors who former President Goodluck Jonathan laboured to install were those at the vanguard of the Saraki project, a man who practically destroyed PDP.

'Most senators at the meeting viewed supporting Saraki as robbing Peter to pay Paul.

'They contended that it will be bad politics to reward a man who took up arms against his party, destroyed it and moved to build another one.'

The meeting was said to have ended without the Senators taking a final decision on who to back for Senate president.

A former acting National Publicity Secretary of PDP Chief Bode Ojomu, yesterday warned the party against supporting any of its defectors from either being the Senate President or the Speaker.

Another source said: 'At the end of the day, we could not agree on bloc votes for any of the candidates for the Senate and House of Representatives. Governor Fayose pleaded with party leaders to see the battle as one between the PDP and Asiwaju Bola Tinubu. He begged the party to 'clip' Tinubu's  wings.

'But some senators-elect warned Fayose against going personal. They queried the morality behind PDP supporting candidates who defected from the party to the APC. They alleged that their defection led to the defeat of PDP at the polls.

'The governors were also split on who to back for the National Assembly offices.'

'At the end of the day, we could not reach a consensus on casting our votes en bloc for either of the candidates. I can tell you that everyone is on his own.' The Nation