Only two out of 27 senators in the 8th Senate, who defected from the political parties that brought them to the Chamber to other political platforms, survived the tsunami that hit the outgoing Assembly in the February 23 National Assembly elections. The two successful senators, who have also made themselves controversial in the 8th Assembly, are Dino Melaye, representing Kogi West Senatorial District and Ovie Omo-Agege, representing Delta Central. While Melaye defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Omo-Agege cross-carpeted from the Labour Party (LP) to the APC. Some of the senators defected in 2016, which was a few months after the apex legislative chamber was inaugurated on June 9, 2015 while others cross-carpeted in 2017 and 2018.
However, the bulk of the opposition senators from the PDP were the ones who first defected to the APC while the majority of the APC members who dumped the party did so last year, during the peak of the political crisis that rocked the ruling party before the primary elections.
Although some of the defectors aspired to the governorship of their various states, none of them succeeded while others either lost tickets at the primary polls or at the February elections 2019 general elections. Two critical lawmakers, whose defection and loss attracted peculiar attention in the country, are the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the former Minority Leader of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio. No fewer than 13 senators dumped the APC on July 24, 2018, thinking that they would make better fortunes in the opposition camp in 2019. Saraki, whose leadership has been turbulent from the inception of the 8th Senate, due to his controversial emergence to the apex Senate seat, defected late in 2018.
However, contrary to his calculations, he met constructive total loss, as he lost his Kwara Central Senatorial seat in the February polls, while also losing all his political grips on Kwara politics both at the national and state elections. Similarly, Akpabio, whose defection from the PDP to the APC beat the imagination of most system analysts, on August 7, 2018, forwarded a letter of resignation to the President of the Senate and the Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha. In the heat of his campaign in the build up to the 2019 general elections, he assured President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC, that he would capture his state, Akwa Ibom, for the ruling party; a promise that created serious panic in the state, and obviously made the home government, under Governor Udom Emmanuel, to prepare for a bitter warfare at the polls.
Conversely, Akpabio crashed out of relevance as he lost his seat in the Senate and also lost the whole state to the PDP, which swept the three seats in the Red Chamber as well as the governorship and all the state assembly seats. Also, one of the senators who defected from the PDP to the APC and contested for the governorship of his state is John Owan Enoh (APC, Cross River Central). He actually got ticket to contest for governorship, but lost to the incumbent Governor Benedict Ayade of the PDP in the March 9 gubernatorial polls in Cross River State.
Senator Enoh formally announced his defection from the PDP to the APC on the floor of the Senate on May 9, 2017, and is the current Chairman, Senate Committee on Finance. Senators Sonni Ogbuoji (APC, Ebonyi South) and Hope Uzodinma (APC, Imo West) who were elected to the Senate on the platform of the PDP, defected to APC in 2018 and contested for the governorship of their states, but lost.
While Oguoji lost to the incumbent Governor, Engr. Dave Umahi, of the PDP, Hope Uzodinma lost to the former Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Emeka Ihedioha. Moreover, Senator Andy Uba, who represents Anambra South was elected to the Senate in 2015 on the platform of the PDP, but later defected to the APC in February 2017.
He re-contested the position, but lost to Ifeanyi Uba of the Young Progressives Party (YPP), during the last senatorial election. Another defector who lost in February is Senator Nelson Asuquo Effiong (Akwa Ibom South). He dumped the PDP on January 19, 2017 and joined the APC. While explaining the reason for his decision to leave his mother party on the floor of the Senate, the lawmaker mocked the PDP and its members, saying that no politician worth his salt would remain in the PDP and make meaningful representation.
Also, Senators Yele Omogunwa (APC, Ondo South), Fatimat Raji Rasaki (APC, Ekiti Central) are other serving senators in the present Assembly, who defected to the APC, but failed to return. In fact, Raji Rasaki did not get ticket at the primary election. Apart from Melaye, other senators who joined in the mass defection from the APC to the PDP, but were not lucky to make it back to the 9th Senate, are: Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South), Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South), and Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North). Others are, Hamman Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), Usman Bayero Nafada (Gombe North), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), and Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa Central). Meanwhile, it is pertinent to note that Gemade later defected to the Social Democratic Party (SDP), after the PDP stakeholders asked him to step down for the former Governor of Benue State, Gabriel Suswam, whom he defeated in the 2015 general elections.
Suswam, however, defeated Gemade in the February 23 senatorial election for Benue North East. Similarly, Senator Nyako later moved to the African Democratic Party (ADC), where he became the governorship standard bearer for Adamawa State in 2019, but also failed. Senator Shehu Sani, on his part, decamped from the APC when he was denied return ticket at the primary election to the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), but he still lost to the APC candidate during the election.
Senator Osinakachukwu Ideozu, representing Rivers West, also defected from the PDP to the APC, but lost out in the last election as his new party could not provide him a platform due to crisis. One of the earliest defectors is Senator Joshua Dariye, who came to the Senate under the PDP, rep-resenting Plateau Central, but dumped the opposition party on September 22, 2016, and joined the ruling party. Dariye, who is presumed to be a member of the 8th Senate, is actually serving a 10-year jail term, after being convicted of corrupt practices in the court of law a couple of months ago.