Beyond the promised intervention by Dogara, it is not clear yet what these lawmakers, who fell by the wayside in their party primaries, have up their sleeves
Ndubuisi Orji and Fred Itua, Abuja
It’s election season. As expected, political actors are again at their best. They are not leaving any stone unturned in trying to woo the electorate. Lawmakers, drawn from the Senate and the House of Representatives, are not left out in the game as they are gradually deserting the Green and Red Chambers and relocating to their constituencies.
In the midst of the politicking, some legislators who rightly or wrongly, were schemed out during the recently concluded party primaries are plotting on how to take their pound of flesh. While some have out rightly lost out, those who are sure of their popularity, have defected to less popular political parties to continue to ply their trade.
In 2015, 77 new senators were elected into the upper legislative chamber. Some pundits believe that the trend was a result of an existing zoning arrangement in some senatorial districts across the country, where lawmakers are not allowed to serve for more than two terms in office. Then, states in southern part of the country were the worst hit. The year also witnessed an upsurge in the number of former governors who contested elections and were elected into the Senate.
However, with the party primaries concluded, senators who couldn’t secure their party tickets are set for war. Senators Gilbert Nnaji, Fatima Raji Rasaki, Gbenga Ashafa, and Barnabas Gemade are in the list of those who lost their primary elections. Senator Nnaji hails from Enugu State. He is a former member of the House of Representatives, where he held sway as Deputy House Leader. After two terms in the House, he contested against a former governor of Enugu State, Chimaroke Nnamani and came to the Senate in 2011. Upon his election, he was appointed chairman of Senate Committee on Communications. In 2015, he re-contested and emerged under controversial circumstances. Governor Nnamani is believed to have won that election, but was allegedly denied the victory. But Nnaji was defeated by Nnamani in the just-concluded primaries of PDP in Enugu State. Unlike the other senators, Nnaji is not seen as a formidable lawmaker who can spring up surprises on the floor of the Senate.
He had hardly contributed to any motion or bill on the floor of the Senate. Whenever he presents a motion or a report of his committee, he doesn’t veer off from his prepared text. Pundits are of the view that Nnaji who has so far spent 16 years in the National Assembly, has no reason to complain. Rasaki Rasaki is one of the six women in the 8th Senate. Until July, 2018, she was a member of the PDP. She defected to the APC, but lost her return ticket in Ekiti State to a former member of the House of Representatives, Opeyemi Bamidele.
Rasaki is not a vocal senator and may not rock the boat. She is also a reserved lawmaker, who seldom contributes to any deliberations on the floor of the Senate. With her loss, plans by APC to oust the President of the Senate just got more complicated. Ashafa Gbenga Ashafa is a two-term senator. He recently lost his APC nomination bid to a four-term member of the House of Assembly in Lagos State, Bayo Osinowo. Ashafa, a former Permanent Secretary in Lagos State, is the Senate Committee Chairman on Land Transportation. On the floor, he is vocal and defends APC and President Buhari. At the infant stage of the 8th Senate, he vehemently resisted the current leadership. He was part of those who dragged the Senate President, Bukola Saraki and others to court over alleged forgery of Senate Standing Rules. With his loss, it is uncertain where his loyalty will lie. Gemade, a veteran politician only spent six weeks as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), and dumped the party as soon as he was denied the ticket to return to the Senate. He opted for a relatively unknown political party in Benue State, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), where he secured a ticket. Gemade is a former chairman of PDP. In 2014, he defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). He secured its party’s senatorial ticket and went ahead to defeat the then incumbent governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswan. Until mid-2018, when the senator was nursing his defection plans, he was one of the key defenders of President Muhammadu Buhari on the floor of the Senate. At the peak of the killings in Benue, Gemade was still a fierce defender of Buhari. With his fallout with the PDP and APC, it is unclear where the senator stands in the upper legislative chamber. So far, he has maintained his cool and has not spoken yet on the floor of the Senate.
Victor Giwa, a public affairs analyst, in a chat with Sunday Sun, said that the loss or otherwise of senators, may not affect the smooth running of the Senate.
According to him, the number of those who lost is too insignificant to pose any threat.
He argued that in a contest, some people are bound to lose and win.
“As for me, I don’t think anything significant will change. Unlike what we had in 2015, where over 70 senators didn’t return, that didn’t happen. Many of the senators are first timers. They have won their tickets. Those who didn’t win are not on ground.
“I don’t also think that they will rock the boat as some people are predicting. The session is almost over. And I also think that APC has lost its chance to even remove Saraki as Senate President. Apart from the passage of the 2019 budget which is yet to be presented by President Buhari, this Senate is almost gone,” he said.
Similarly, in the House of Representatives, some of the lawmakers have fallen by the wayside in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.
These are members who were unable to secure their return ticket in the just concluded party primaries. Prominent among these members is Hon Nnenna Elendu-Ukeje, who represents Bende Federal Constituency of Abia State in the Green Chamber. Elendu-Ukeje, a very vocal member of the House was gunning for a fourth term ticket to return to the House, but unfortunately,, she lost her nomination in the PDP to businessman-cum-politician, Chima Anyanso. In Ebonyi, Hon Linus Okorie from Ohaozara /Onicha /Ivo Federal Constituency, was given a left hand of fellowship by the stakeholders in his constituency.
Out of the six members of the House from the Southeast states, Okorie is not the only one who did not get a return ticket. In the neighbouring Enugu State, Hon Chukwuemeka Ujam also fell by the wayside. In Delta State, Hons. Daniel Rayenieju, Lovette Idisi, Onyemaechi Mrakpor and Ahwinahwi Solomon crashed at the primaries. Hon Dickson Dickson Dyegh (APC, Benue) and Emmnuel Udende (PDP, Benue) also lost their nominations. Ditto for Hon Buka Goni, (APC,Yobe) and Hon. Sani Zoro from Jigawa State. Similarly, the fate of APC members from Ogun and Zamfara is currently hanging in the balance as a result of the controversy surrounding the ruling party’s nomination exercises in the two states. Although most of the members have been very quiet over their losses, the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara blamed the development on impunity in the political parties.
Dogara, who stated this while welcoming lawmakers from their annual recess promised that the House would intervene in the issue.
While congratulating the lawmakers who scaled through at the primaries, the Speaker noted that “others are said to have lost their nominations in circumstances, which remain contentious, to such, we shall do all within our powers to assist them in the various political parties to get fair opportunity. We have all made tremendous sacrifices and it is only fair that this is rewarded.
“The leadership is aware of the impunity that characterised the conduct of some primaries in which some of our members allegedly lost the ticket to contest in the next election. We have done our best to ensure internal democracy within parties, but it appears parties prefer to pander to the whims and caprices of some individuals rather than the law.”
Beyond the promised intervention by Dogara, it is not clear yet what these lawmakers, who fell by the wayside in their party primaries, have up their sleeves.
READ ALSO: Dogara: APC fails to carry out its threats
However, it would not be surprising if they find their way back to the House on the platform of other political parties.
Apart from members of the House of Representatives, who lost their primaries for the 2019 general elections, there are at least 24 others who might be conspicuously missing when the next National Assembly is inaugurated in June next year.
Among these members are those who have decided not to seek elective office for now and some others, who have already indicated interest to contest for either the governorship election on their respective states or to contest election into the Senate. Hon Yussuff Lasun is prominent among the House of Representatives members that are not likely to be part of the 9th Assembly is the Deputy Speaker, Hon Yussuff Lasun. Lasun, who currently represents Irepodun/Olorunda/Osogbo/Orolu Federal Constituency of Osun State, contested the All Progressives Congress (APC) governorship primary in the just concluded Osun guber election and lost.
Sunday Sun gathered that following the cold war that ensued between APC leaders and Lasun after the governorship primary, the deputy speaker did not obtain the party’s form for the House of Representatives primary.
Although his next political move is not clear, sources said that with the way the Osun gubernatorial poll played out, there is now a rapprochement between Lasun and the APC leadership.
The Deputy Chief Whip, Hon Pally Iriase, who represents Owan Federal Constituency of Edo State on the platform of the APC like the deputy speaker did not obtain nomination form for any elective office in the 2019 general elections. Earlier in the year, Hon Bashir Baballe (APC, Kano) announced on the floor of the House that he would not be contesting the 2019 general election, citing sundry reasons.
Similarly, Hon Adamu Chika (APC, Niger) announced publicly few months back that he would not be contesting the 2019 general elections. He noted, among other things, that he was not comfortable with the perception of members of the public about politicians, especially the members of the National Assembly. Also, Hon Ahmed Baba-Kaita will be missing in action in the House of Representatives in the next session.
The lawmaker, who used to represent Kankia/Kusada/ Ingawa Federal Constituency of Kastina State, was recently elected senator in the Kastina-North Senatorial bye-election. It is expected that he would be re-contesting for the Senate seat in the 2019 polls. Hon. Tony Nwulu represents Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency of Lagos State. Although he was elected into the House on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party he recently defected to the United Progressive Party (UPP), where he had already clinched the ticket for Imo State governorship election. In Kwara, Hons. Amuda Adamu-Kannike, Zakari Mohammed and Ahman Pategi and Rasak Atunwa obtained the PDP governorship form to participate in the gubernatorial primary in the state. However, Atunwa clinched the governorship ticket. It is not clear yet what 2019 holds in store for the others.
In a related development, Hon Kunle Akinlade, who is seeking to be governor of Ogun State on the platform of the APC lost the nomination. Also, Hon Sani Jaji Zamfara (PDP, Zamfara), Hon Johnbull Shekarau (PDP, Plateau), Hon Jafaru Ibrahim (APC, Nasarawa), Hon Devematic Ombughado (PDP Nasarawa) also sought for the governorship ticket of their parties. Apart from Ombughado, who clinched the opposition party gubernatorial ticket for Nasarawa State, others lost the primaries.
Hon Tajudeen Yusuf (PDP, Kogi), Hon Sunday Karimi (PDP, Kogi), and Adams Jagaba Adams, lost out in their bids to move up to the Senate.
On the flipside, Hons. Diri Douye and Evelyn Oboro from Bayelsa and Delta states respectively won PDP tickets for their respective senatorial zones.
Also, Hon. Betty Apiafi also from Rivers State clinched the PDP senatorial ticket for the 2019 polls. Similarly, the Chairman, House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon Emmanuel Orker-Jev from Benue State will be contesting the senatorial election on the ticket of the PDP. It will not be surprising if some of these members sought for higher political offices and lost, for one reason or the other, finds their way back to the lower chamber of the House of Representatives in the next session.