By Kemi Busari
The All Progressives Congress (APC) still commands a nine-man margin majority at the Nigerian Senate, checks by PREMIUM TIMES indicate.
With 56 Senators still pledging allegiance to it, APC continues to maintain a lead it launched at the start of the eighth Senate.
The party’s majority is in spite of the fact the wave of defections last year which saw the Senate President joining his deputy in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party.
From 1999 when Nigeria returned to civil rule, the Senate is constitutionally drafted to compose of 109 Senators: three from each of the 36 states totalling 108, and the last one from the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The eighth Senate started with Kwara Central Senator, Bukola Saraki, as its president.
Officially, the APC had 64 Senators and PDP 50 for most part of 2018 but this changed in the seventh month following a spate of defections.
Mr Saraki won his election under APC but in July 2018, he defected to the PDP fuelling confusion on his stand as president and further, on the majority/ minority composition of the Senate.
One week before this, some 15 APC lawmakers had announced their defection from the party, 14 immediately joining PDP and the last, the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
The new numerical difference between the two parties then stood at 52 for APC to 50 from PDP.
Releasing a list of names of the APC lawmakers then, Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan, was optimistic that some of the defecting senators would have a rethink and return to the APC while emphasising that his party still has a majority.
In one of the numerous reactions that followed, senators Isa Misau and Rafiu Ibrahim, in a joint statement ,warned against any move to impeach Mr Saraki, noting that PDP lawmakers in the Senate outnumber those of APC. That was in August, 2018.
The controversy lingered until the Senate went on break in December.
PREMIUM TIMES’ Count
Upon resumption for the New Year in January 16, the Senate was expected to call for a head-count to determine the party composition of the Senate. This did not happen.
Apart from the fact that only a few senators attend plenaries, at no time did the leadership of the Senate contemplate making a count.
PREMIUM TIMES’ checks indicate that the APC still has the larger numerical strength at the Senate.
The check shows that the party has 56 senators currently in the Senate although some of them are not eligible for re-election.
PDP, which controls the leadership, has 47 senators.
The other six are shared among the minor parties: ADC, with three Senators; All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) having one each.
When reached for comments, Senate spokesperson, Sabi Abdullahi, did not answer calls. He also did not respond to text messages.
His deputy, Ben Murrau-Bruce, could not be reached on his known line.