Although at the moment the APC still enjoys a slim majority, but for how long would the party continue to maintain this slim majority?
Whenever I see the Majority leader, House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila, these days, I don’t know whether to sympathise with him over the hard times that have befallen his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in the House or tell him serves you right.
The APC is fast losing its status as the majority party in the House as lawmakers elected on its platform continue to leave in droves in search for political greener pasture elsewhere.
Since the House resumed from it annual vacation, it has been more or less a case of one day, one defection for the ruling party. It all started in July, shortly before the National Assembly commenced its annual break, when 37 APC lawmakers dumped the party for other political parties. They cited alleged division in the ruling party as the reason for their actions.
Prior to the defection, some disgruntled members of the APC had announced the formation of a splinter group in the party known as the Reformed All Progressives Congress (RAPC). The recent primary election for selection of candidates for the 2019.general election worsened things in the party, as it left many lawmakers disenchanted. The development has resulted in the exit of more members of the House from the APC, thereby further depleting the caucus. From July to date, no fewer than 50 members of the APC in the Green chamber, including the Speaker, Hon Yakubu Dogara, have left the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), African Democratic Congress (ADC), Social Democratic Party (SDP) etc. And there might still be some others, who are getting set to leave the party.
As each member leave, they have very strong words for the ruling party. One of the defectors, Musa Soba from Kaduna State in a very lengthy letter announcing his resignation from the APC accused the party of double standards and short-changing him.
“Mr Speaker, I have been personally short-changed by a system I so much trusted and believed in. I have also been serially deceived and defrauded by a political party I helped to nurture and sustain. However, it is the sharp division within the APC members and the mutual antagonism between the membership and the leadership of the APC more than any other factor that propelled me to take my exit,” Soba wrote.
Before now, it has been members of the opposition PDP that were migrating into the ruling party, citing non existent crisis.
After each defection, while the leaders of the opposition cried wolf, Gbajabiamila would stand up in the chamber and gleefully welcome the defectors while daring the PDP leader to go to court. Little did he know that the chicken would return home to roost so early. These days, when APC members announced their defections, I listen attentively to hear what Gbajabiamila or any of the leaders of the APC leaders in the House would say. But often time , they are quiet. Perhaps, humbled by the political adversity ravaging their caucus. Although at the moment the APC still enjoys a slim majority, but for how long would the party continue to maintain this slim majority? With the way things are going, it is doubtful if the ruling party would not become a minority in the Green Chamber before the end of the year.
…Ebonyi lawmakers as bench warmers
If you are from Ebonyi State, please come closer. When last did you see your lawmaker on the floor of the House of the House of Representatives, participating in proceedings? Okay, let me put it this way; how often do you see the member representing your federal constituency proposing a motion or contributing to debates on the floor.
Each day I walk into the hallowed chamber of the House of Representatives, the first set of people I look at are lawmakers from Ebonyi. When issues are tabled for discussion, I watch eagerly to see if any of the lawmaker from the state would make contributions; but most times I am disappointed. Disappointed, because majority of them are never around.
For those who do not know, there are six members of the Green Chamber from the Salt of the nation. These are “accomplished” men in their own rights. Out of these six, only two participates actively in the activities of the House, especially at plenary.
Apart from the two legislators, who have kept the flag flying high, the other four are a big disappointment to the lawmaking business. The rest just sit down and watch, whenever they manage to attend plenary. In fact, one of the Ebonyi lawmakers has a penchant for always sitting in his office watching television during plenaries, while his colleagues from other parts of the country are in the chamber sweating it out. What a way to represent a constituency. In the past two years, that I have been in the Green chamber, some of the Ebonyi lawmakers have not uttered a word in the plenary, not even to get angry and bang the table, so that the journalists can report it. Nothing.
Ironically, all the Ebonyi lawmakers like their counterparts in the other parts of the country are warming up to return to the House in 2019. The question is return to do what?
No doubt, since 2015, the lawmakers would have done some “empowerment” programmes like sharing wrappers, motorbike, instructional materials etc to their constituents, as proof of their “performance” as legislators. However, quality representation is far more than that. For the avoidance of doubt, Ebonyi is not the only state with bench warming legislators in the Green chamber, nearly all the states have them. However, after an analysis of the participation of lawmakers from across the country in the business of the House, one is tempted to write off the Ebonyi Caucus as among the least performing.