The People’s Democratic Party (PDP) may not enjoy the clear dominance of the National Assembly that has been its lot since 1999, going by the results so far announced for Saturday’s election.
The strong showing of such opposition parties as the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) indicate that the federal legislature may no longer be able to operate as if the nation were a one party state.
The defeat of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dimeji Bankole, was the first major indication that the party has lost more ground in the Southwest. That result was followed by another high profile loss in the state, when Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello lost her senatorial seat to the ACN’s candidate.
Mr Bankole, however, quickly conceded defeat and called on politicians to shun violence.
“The exercise is a good omen in our national quest to entrench democracy in our nation,” he said. “For me, the race was not a life-and-death duel. Of more importance is the building, maintenance and development of our democratic institutions and processes toward true national development and greatness.”
The ACN sweep
The implications are however far reaching than the fall of these two. In 2007, the ACN, then known as the Action Congress, had only representatives from Lagos State in the National Assembly.
This time around however, the party is sending senators from such PDP strongholds as Oyo, where the party has won the senatorial seats in Ibadan north and Oyo central. In the former district, Abiodun Awoleye of ACN polled 30,035 votes to beat Kazeem Adeniyi of the Accord Party into second place. In Oyo central, Ayo Adeseun of the ACN polled 105,975 votes to defeat Jumoke Akinjide of the PDP.
Similar trouncing of the PDP occurred in other Southwest states such as Osun, where Jide Omoworare defeated PDP incumbent, Iyiola Omisore. ACN’s Sola Adeyeye also won in the Osun central district, beating former governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola. The party’s Muda Oyetunde won the Osun west senatorial district to complete the haul.
In Edo, the ACN won six of the eight seats for the House of Representatives and the two Edo South and Edo North senatorial seats, leaving PDP with the Edo Central. The House seat for Akoko Edo was among those INEC postponed. That seat is currently being occupied by House leader, Tunde Akogun. Daisy Danjuma of the PDP lost her senate bid in Edo South to Ehigie Uzamere. Domingo Obende of ACN also defeated PDP serving senator, Yisa Braimoh.
The near complete defeat of the PDP in the Southwest by the ACN, which has been the most vocal opposition party in the National Assembly, means that apart from making the ritual comments against PDP policies, the party has more clout now where votes against bills it doesn’t want are concerned.
The CPC factor
The ACN and the ANPP have always been the dominant opposition parties in the National Assembly. But their numbers have never shaken the overwhelming influence of the PDP in the legislature.
The CPC, which is the newest party among the lot, is set to increase the number and power of the opposition. Being a party regarded as the more radical group, the CPC, which has done well in the Northwest, is set to provide serious opposition to PDP dominance.
The party has swept the votes in Katsina State, which used to provide mainly PDP senators and members to the National Assembly. It has also won seats in Kano, Gombe, Niger, Zamfara, Kaduna, Nasarawa and Bauchi among others. Nearly All these seats were won off the PDP members who used to occupy them in the national assembly.
Still the giant
There is however little doubt that the PDP will still provide the largest number of lawmakers in the parliament. It has won practically all the senatorial seats in the Southeast and the Southsouth. It has also shockingly won two of the three Senate seats in Kano and 11 of the House of reps seats. It has won both the senate and rep seat in Abuja, and most of the seats in the north central states of Plateau, Kwara, Kogi, Niger, Jigawa and Benue where senate president David Mark won after what initially looked like he was losing his bid.
National Chairman of the PDP, Bello Haliru Mohammed, commended Nigerians for participation in the exercise.
“I believe that we have seen portends good omen for the country. There is a free, fair and credible process. INEC has indeed improved. But beyond these, the Nigerian voters deserve commendation for turning out massively in spite of the polls shift. The women folk also deserve special commendation for their enthusiasm. I believe we are on the right electoral track in the country,” he said
By Olu Jacob, NEXT.