Details yesterday emerged on how the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, outwitted the All Progressives Congress, APC, ahead of the National Assembly election, which Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon. Yakubu Dogara won as Senate President and Speaker of the House of Representatives, respectively.
In the build up to the National Assembly leadership election the APC was deeply divided in four different camps in the two chambers with APC national leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu leading the camps that were rooting for the candidature of Ahmed Lawan for Senate President and Femi Gbajabiamila for the Speaker of House of Representatives.
The other two camps were led by former governor of Kwara State, Senator Bukola Saraki for Senate President and Yakubu Dogara for Speaker of the House.
Despite series of meetings summoned by APC leaders to resolve the logjam, the opposing camps stuck to their guns and when there was no truce in sight, President Muhammadu Buhari came out to declare that he is ready to work amicably with anyone that emerges in the National Assembly election leadership.
Following the failure of APC leaders to resolve the impasse, there were speculations that the PDP may cash in on the schism within the APC to snatch the leadership of the National Assembly.
However, PDP sold a dummy to the APC that it is not interested in the contest for the leadership of the National Assembly, stressing that their major concern is to rebuild the party and provide virile opposition to the APC administration.
Briefing newsmen last Wednesday at the end of the weekly National Working Committee meeting, the PDP National Publicity Secretary, Olisa Metuh, said the party has opted to allow the lawmakers make their choice without any interference from the national leadership of the party.
According to him, “The PDP has decided to tell Nigerians that the party has no candidate for the position of Senate President and Deputy Senate President. What is important to the PDP at this critical time is how it can reposition to form a credible opposition party to offer alternatives and options to Nigerians on the policies and programmes of the ruling party.
“We are at present more worried about the heinous plot of some elements in the ruling party to influence membership of tribunals in order to attempt to upturn the victory of PDP in certain states. That is our focus and that is our worry.
“On the issue of the National Assembly, we believe that senators are mature, experienced, exposed and they hold the mandate of their people and we believe that the election of the Senate President and Deputy Senate President should be left to members of our party to decide on their own.
“We have no candidate. I repeat, we have no candidate for the position of Senate President And Deputy Senate President. We have made it quite clear. Ours is just to form a formidable opposition to handle alternatives and options,” Metuh said.
APC bought the PDP decoy wholesale, believing that PDP is only interested in what is going on in the Election Tribunals and will remain a mere onlooker in the battle for the leadership of the National Assembly.
With fresh optimism that PDP is out of the picture and APC will solely decide who emerges in the leadership of the National Assembly, APC leaders last weekend went ahead to conduct a mock election which was boycotted by supporters of Senator Bukola Saraki and Hon Yakubu Dogara.
Predictably, the choice candidates of Bola Tinubu were declared winners of the mock election.
APC followed up the mock election with a directive to all its members in the National Assembly to kowtow the outcome of the mock election when the parliament is inaugurated on Tuesday.
While some APC leaders were still celebrating the outcome of the mock election, PDP silently came out with its ace card when it convened a secret meeting in Abuja with all its elected federal lawmakers late on Monday night, barely nine hours to the National Assembly leadership election.
Saraki and his key supporters were also invited to the meeting where a deal was struck for PDP senators to give block votes to Saraki.
When the meeting, which had PDP leaders, including Chief Tony Anenih and National Working Committee members in attendance commenced, Saraki and his supporters were asked to excuse them.
The PDP lawmakers considered three key issues, including the option of fielding a neutral candidate for Senate Presidency, backing Saraki or backing Ahmed Lawan.
The option of backing Lawan was outrightly rejected and the lawmakers had to subject the agreement to support Saraki or an independent candidate to vote.
At the end of the voting, 28 supported Saraki while 16 voted for a neutral candidate.
Speaking after the voting, former Plateau Governor, Joshua Dariye, said since the meeting was conveyed to strengthen the bond between members of PDP, everyone that voted for neutral candidate should cast their votes for Saraki.
Senator Godswill Akpabio, who arrived after the voting, said he is in total support of the decision to back Saraki when he was informed of the outcome of the voting.
When Saraki was invited back into the meeting venue, he was told of the decision of PDP lawmakers but PDP also extracted an assurance from him that he will support Senator Ike Ekweremadu as his deputy for the PDP block vote.
When APC leaders woke up on Monday morning, words reached them that PDP had struck a deal with Senator Saraki and consequently summoned an emergency meeting with all APC elected lawmakers at the International Conference Centre.
Reports had it that President Buhari was scheduled to attend the meeting to persuade the lawmakers to tow the party line.
The meeting, which had supporters of Ahmed Lawan, was eventually called off when signals came that the Saraki and Dogara group will not honour the invitation.

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