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PDP LOSING SEATS IN NATIONAL ASSEMBLY

By NBF News
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The numerical strength of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate last month depleted when the election petition tribunal in Kebbi State upturned the election of Senator Atiku Bagudu and declared former governor of Kebbi State, Adamu Aliero, winner of Kebbi Central senatorial seat.

Also, the party is suffering losses at the state level. Penultimate week, election tribunal in Benue State quashed the election of the Benue State House of Assembly Speaker, Terhemen Tazor, a PDP member and declared Avine Agom of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) winner of Makurdi North State Constituency.

This development seems to set the tone for the ruling party losing its tight grip at the National Assembly and in some states Assembly where it is in the majority. This is moreso since some seat held by the party and being challenged at the tribunal are also under threat.

From its control of the National Assembly in 1999, with 77 percent of the members, 84 percent in 2003 and 94 percent, in 2007, to less than 50 percent in 2011, it is obvious that the party is taking a down ward trend. Across the country, there are over 200 petitions arising from the National Assembly elections at the tribunal and over 150 of them are against the PDP elected senators and members of the Federal House of Representatives. Also, at the state Houses of Assembly, there are 130 cases and most of them are also against legislatures elected on the platform of PDP.

A breakdown of the petitions against NASS and state Houses of Assembly legislatures shows that there are 14 petitions against members of the PDP in the Senate and House of Representatives and six against the result in the state House of Assembly elections.

In Adamawa, there was no governorship election and the three petitions are against PDP members in the National Assembly. In Akwa Ibom, there are eight petitions against National Assembly and seven against the state Assembly, all are filed against the ruling party. The case of Akwa Ibom is most interesting. In one of the cases, over Eket federal Constituency, PDP members are at war against themselves. The war may cause the party to lose the seat.

In the case, before the Court of Appeal, Mr. Bassey Dan Abia, is asking that the judgment of a Federal High Court, Abuja declaring Hon Eseme Eyiboh winner be set aside. He's not, however, asking that he be declared the authentic candidate of the PDP in the election.

Hon Eyiboh had gone to court to challenge the election of Dan Abia, on the grounds that the primaries that gave him the ticket were held at Uyo, the state capital, instead of Eket, headquarters of the federal constituency, as stipulated by the Electoral Act and constitution. The court said that since Abia, who stood for the election, got his ticket outside Eket, Eyiboh, who was the sole aspirant in the re-run primary held in Eket Township Stadium, is the authentic candidate and therefore the elected member of the House of Representatives. He has since been sworn in as Rep.

The PDP is on the verge of losing the seat, going by the way the case is going. If the court answers Dan Abia's prayer and, therefore, declares that the lower court erred by pronouncing Eyiboh winner, it means that PDP did not have any candidate in the election. This is so, since the primary that brought Dan Abia was held at Uyo and therefore, is not recognised by law.

In the event that the appeal court overrules the lower court, the candidate of Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), who came second in the election, would automatically become the validly elected candidate for Eket federal Constituency.

In Bayelsa, where governorship election didn't take place, there are three petitions each against the PDP members in the National Assembly and the state House of Assembly. In Bauchi, there are seven petitions over the National Assembly elections, almost all are against the legislatures who won elections on the platform of PDP.

Borno has four petitions filed at the tribunal on the National Assembly elections, while14 cases are on the state House of Assembly. Cross River has only six cases on the National Assembly. Ebonyi has two petitions against two PDP members of National Assembly, while Cross River has six on the National Assembly. Delta has three cases on the National Assembly, while Enugu has seven.

Gombe State has two cases on the National Assembly and seven on the state House of Assembly election. There are 13 from Imo on National Assembly and one on the state House of Assembly. Kaduna has five on the National Assembly and six on the state House Assembly, while Kano has seven on the National Assembly. Kogi has 11 petitions on the National Assembly, while Kebbi has two on the National Assembly and six on the state House of Assembly. Kwara has two in all, one on the National Assembly elections and one on state House of Assembly poll.

Kastina has 11 cases on the National Assembly, while Lagos has 11, also on the National Assembly polls and four on the state House of Assembly. Nasarawa has six petitions each on the National and state House of Assembly, while Niger has four on the National Assembly polls. Ogun has six cases on the National Assembly elections, while Osun has one on the National Assembly and four on the state House of Assembly. Ondo has four on the National Assembly elections and one on state House of Assembly. Oyo has two on the National Assembly polls and three petitions on the state House of Assembly. Plateau has five petitions on the National Assembly elections and seven on the state House of Assembly poll.

Rivers State has the highest number of petitions. It has 14 on the National Assembly polls and 22 on the state House of Assembly. Taraba has four cases each on the National Assembly and state House of Assembly elections. Yobe has two cases on the National Assembly elections, while Zamfara has one on the National Assembly polls and 10 on the state House of Assembly. It is only Sokoto that does not have any petition in the tribunal.

The PDP, in 1999 came into the nation's political firmament with 65 of the Senate seats, leaving the remaining 44 for All Peoples Party (APP) and Alliance for Democracy (AD) to share. APP got 27, while AD got 17. Even at the House of Representatives, the ruling party controlled about 77 percent of the members.

In 2003, the ruling party trudged on, as it continued its victory dance, notching more Senate seats. From 65 Senate seats in 1999, it went up to 78, while the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP (former APP) had 26 seats. AD was almost trounced out of existence in the South West, where, from 17 senators it had in 1999, it went down to five. The reason for the depletion of AD in the South West was the second term bid of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, who is from the zone. The agreement he entered with the AD leaders, in the zone, to ensure his victory was a crushing blow for the party as it never recovered from it. In the House of Representatives, the PDP won 54.5% of the popular vote, which translated to 223 out of 360 seats.

By 2007, PDP had become a behemoth, following the collapse of AD in the South West and the intractable crisis that bedeviled the ANPP, leading to defection of many politicians. In 2007 also, in the Senate, the PDP took 85 out of the 109 seats, leaving 24 seats for the opposition. The ANPP also led the opposition with 16 senators, while the ACN and the PPA won six seats, and one Senate seat respectively. Elections after the 1999 polls have been characterised by defections from which the PDP have greatly benefited. A number of politicians changed parties because they saw in the ruling party a platform that offers a strong base.

In 2007, the PDP clinched 260 House of Representatives seats, leaving the other parties to share the remaining 100 seats. The ANPP, led the opposition with 62 seats while the Action Congress, now Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), followed with 32 seats. The PPA and the Labour Party (LP) won three and one seat respectively.

The 2011 showed that PDP is on the decline. From over 85 senators it had, including those gained from defection of lawmakers into it before the April general election, the party was able to secure 71 seats. Of this number, it has just lost one to rival Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) in Kebbi State. The South West zone that PDP took over in 2003 was reclaimed by ACN. In the last elections, ACN won 18 senatorial seats; CPC won seven and ANPP, seven. The All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) won one; DPP won one and Labour Party, four.

Also at the last April election, the PDP took a noose dive at the House of Representatives, winning 150 seats out of the 360 seats of the lower legislative house, which is a far cry form its previous performance.