APC’s Tall Order to National Assembly Members By John Ameh
The struggle for political relevance between the Peoples Democratic Party and the All Progressives Congress is set to get messier in the days ahead, as the countdown to the 2015 elections gathers momentum.
Thursday’s communique by the Interim National Executive Committee of the APC added a new dimension to the tussle.
The main opposition party, after the eight meeting of the NEC held in Abuja, directed its members at the National Assembly to “block all legislative proposals, including the 2014 budget” from President Goodluck Jonathan.
Part of the communique, which was signed by the Interim National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Lai Mohammed, reads, “APC hereby directs its members in the National Assembly to block all legislative proposals including the 2014 Budget and confirmation of all nominees to military and civilian positions to public office until the rule of law and constitutionalism is restored in Rivers State.”
The position of the party was a reaction to the political crisis in Rivers State, in which the APC has accused the Presidency and the PDP of using state machinery, especially the police, to hound opposition politicians. In particular, the party alleged that the state Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, had suffered “serial, unprovoked and unwarranted assault on his person, his constitutional rights and those of the government and people of Rivers State.”
The directive to the National Assembly members is a tough one, though it seems the right step to take by the APC in the face of the power tussle. The National Assembly plays a game of numbers. For example, right now, the party has only 33 of 109 senators, while the PDP has 72. Labour Party has three members, while APGA has one.
The above scenario shows that the PDP is still in the majority in the Senate. For the Senate, this directive seems dead on arrival. However, anything can change if the APC can raise its numerical strength in the Senate to well above the PDP’s 72.
Where the APC may push its weight around is in the House of Representatives. As it stands today, the party controls 172 of the 360 members of the House. This gives the party a slim majority over the PDP, which has 171 lawmakers.
Other parties share the remaining 17 lawmakers in this order, LP, eight; Accord, two; APGA, five; DPP, one; and PPN, one.
Behind the scenes, the APC boasts close to 181 members. This unofficial figure is not known to the general House, but the APC insists that there are unnamed PDP members “who are APC members at heart.” The party believes that these members will always support its stance on any issue before the House.
For the APC to have its way in the House, some facts must come to play. Decisions in the House are taken through voice votes of either “nay” or “eyes.” With a numerical strength of 172 to PDP’s 171, much depends on which side shouts the loudest when the presiding officer asks the question. Under the rules of the House, the presiding officer (Speaker or Deputy Speaker) has awesome powers. Much depends on which side he believes has shouted loudest.
The Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, is a PDP member, though speculation are rife that he is being wooed to defect to the APC. He has not done so yet. His Deputy, Emeka Ihedioha, is a PDP member to the core.
Whenever he presides, it is most likely he will rule that the 171 side has shouted loudest and carries the day! Then, there are 17 non-PDP and non-APC members. Will they all support APC, choose to remain on their own or support PDP? For the APC’s directive to succeed, the party needs to lobby these 17 members, just as it is obvious that PDP will do the same. The winner will be the one who has done the best of lobbying. Besides, to succeed, the APC can insist on electronic voting or insist on invoking the order, which provides that the House should be divided for members to be counted physically before a decision is taken.
In this way, every member is counted and the final vote is known before any proposal is passed to the advantage of the side with the highest number of votes.
It is a complicated issue and not as easy as the APC’ directive seeks. However, the party can make good its plan to poach more PDP members and be in “comfortable majority” as it has always stated.
Do not hesitate to leave your opinion in the comment section below.
To contact Abusidiqu.com for Article Submission and Advertisement or General inquiry, send a mail to email@example.com