The Chairman, Senate Committee on Environment and Ecology, Bukola Saraki, has said that the decision by some senators, who have chosen to decamp from the Peoples Democratic Party to the opposition, APC should be respected, as the trend of defection “is not new.”
Speaking on the letter of defection which led to disagreements between senators on both sides of the PDP/APC divide, as a result of the Senate President’s refusal to read the letter on the floor of the Senate, Saraki said that “the practice has always been in the past that when Senators or members of the House of Representatives change their party for whatever reason, they come to the floor and indicate their interest by writing to the leadership, quoting section 68 of the constitution. The leadership reads it and it goes into the records of the Senate that you have defected to another party.”
He added that the laid down procedures “had been working very well in the past but unfortunately now, it seems not to be working as it used to.”
He said arguments that the senators who decamp will lose their seats are false as the trend is not new in the country. “I think between the House and the Senate, there are over 20 cases since 1999, where people had defected quoting the same section.
“There’s not been any hullabaloo about it. There’s been no noise. It’s gone smoothly. People have left the opposition party to the ruling party, now it’s the other way round, people are quoting and trying to hold on to what doesn’t exist.
He added that “as of today, there’s no law that stops any of the senators or members of the House of Representatives to say that they have left their party.”
“The issue at the end of the day is that most of these decisions are based on your constituencies. At the end of the day, that’s what we represent.
“We have moved. We have taken those decisions. I think that it needs to be respected.
The former governor of Kwara State advocated for consistency in government process, adding that “every time we do things to suit the situation, it goes back to bite us and haunt us later.”
He argued that the case concerning defection is the same in both legislative houses and should not be treated differently. “One would wonder if the legal experts who are advising the Senate President are totally different from those advising the Speaker. I mean, it’s the same case.”
Defection To APC
Asked why he defected from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress, Mr Saraki cited impunity as one of the reasons he left the ruling party for the opposition.
“I think largely, it is due to the kind of dissatisfaction that we’ve seen in the affairs of the party over a while with regards to key issues like the level of impunity, the regard for the rule of law, the level of inclusiveness, the consideration of the wishes of the people and party members at the different chapters, not ready for us to engage more in participatory democracy.”
He added that those who defected in Kwara State did so because the leadership of the party had interfered in the State chapter’s primaries.
“Leading to our local government election, we had carried out primaries at the party. The party had come from Abuja to supervise our primaries.
“We were going to election, after electing our flag-bearers and then 24 hours before election, somebody who sat in Abuja, decided to just write another 193 names (of councilors) and sent it to the state INEC commissioner to say that these are the authorised candidates of the party,” he said.
Saraki also addressed rumours that he may contest in the forthcoming presidential elections.
Speaking on Sunrise Daily, Mr Saraki said those criticising his activities are quick to attribute them to a personal ambition to become President.
Return To PDP
The Senator has said that it is too late to return to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. Asked if the change in the party’s leadership will make him turn back, he said it was too late despite the new Chairman of the PDP being ‘a nice chap.’