On Sunday, August 5 2018, the Vanguard reported that 'the crisis rocking the All Progressives Congress, APC took a dramatic turn on the penultimate Tuesday on the floor of the Senate, as 14 senators elected on the platform of the party dumped it to People's Democratic Party, PDP and the African Democratic Congress.

It becomes noticeable from the trend of the recent political marketing at the upper chamber, that there is an intellectual game of mathematics being played by the two dominant parties in the Senate, which without doubt is a competition to influence, determine and leg up which party shoulders the 2019 Presidential power. Symbolically, both players have access to different cards of lobbying, intimidation, propaganda...

Analysts and Nigerians generally, seem to be keyed up on 'Which of the party plays the right card or which uses its card well on this political play of unknown result.

The res of the game is of 'numbers' and expectedly, 'Majority carries the vote'
It is as well observed that 'sentiments' are allowed in the ongoing game alongside, seduction, double-crossimg, hatred, stalking and selling out,which is quite evident in the most recent defection of the defunct minority leader of the defunct Minority party (PDP), Godswill Akpabio to APC.

Albeit, there is no distinct constitutional provision dichotomizing a majority party from a minority party.
Nevertheless, the constitution per Chapter V is not completely silent on the power and essence of 'numbers' in the legislative houses.
Hence the following are constitutional provisions as affecting or likely to affect the current trend in the Senate:

1. SECTION 56(2) provides thus;
"Except as otherwise provided by this constitution, the required majority for the purpose of determining any given question shall be a simple majority".
The provision without mincing words justifies that in the legislative houses 'only majority carries the vote' and by consequence makes it clear, the reason and essence of the game of number being played by the state actors.
Expressly, the party with majority has the say and can unanimously but constitutionally determine in their favour, at what time and sequence 2019 election is to hold.

They can as well with power of the majority manoeuvre exercise of legislative powers on INEC as constitutionally expressed to suit their political or candidature interest.

2.SECTION 50 of the constitution provides for the office of the president and deputy president of the Senate as the case may be, who are to be elected by the 'members' of the Senate (and not necessarily the majority party), However, recourse to Section 56(2) that the required number for a question or making such vote is simple majority.
Hence, there is a high tendency that the senate president or his deputy may emerge from the party with majority.

Evidentially, it could be said that the APC as the defunct majority party successfully elected the senate president (Bukola Saraki).

3. SECTION 50(2)(C) Further provides that the Senate President or the Deputy Senate President is to vacate his office, if he is removed from office by a resolution of votes of not less than two-thirds majority of the members of that house.

Representing this in figure, it implies that 73 senators are required to vote out the President of the Senate.

Now, the PDP who seem to be playing smart with the available cards are bent on protecting the President of the Senate who was wooed alongside other senators back into their party.

Such that 49 Senators of the new majority party (PDP) on Tuesday, have passed their vote of confidence and by so declared their support for the Senate President, thereby making it practically impossible to obtain the two-third majority(73) required to oust the Senate President.

4. SECTION 68(1)(G)
Interestingly, it is not too certain whether the provision of this Section68(1)(g) of the constitution is applicable to the Senate President as a member of the Senate. The section provides thus;
"A member of the Senate... shall vacate his seat in the house
(g) if being a person whose election to the house was sponsored by a political party , he becomes a member of another political party before the expiration of the period for which the house was elected.

From all available facts, the president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, (if considered as a member of the house) falls short of this provision.

However, his provision cannot determine his fate, as Section 50(2) already provides for procedure/circumstance for his removal.
For this, the principle of 'expressio unis est exclusio alterius' (express mention of a thing excludes others) comes to play.

However, it is quite conspicuous that the provison affects 'Ordinary Members' of the Senate who were elected on the platform of a party but has defected to another (the party floaters), who in this case are the 14senators from APC to PDP and Godswill Akpabio from PDP to APC.

Although, this is subject to the proviso contained I'm the Section 68(1)(g) thus:

'Provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was previously a member or of a merger of two or more parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored...'

The onus therefore rests on the claimant to prove that there was no division nor merger of factions.

5. SECTION 68(2)
Finally, Section 68(2) provides that the President of the Senate is to give effect to Section 68(1)(g) (I.e vacation of seat by defection).

It means that only the Senate President (Bukola Saraki, in this case) can determine whether the provision affects any of the alleged defectors. Therefore, until the Senate President gives effect, the defecting senator may not vacate his seat and in as much he belongs to the faction or 'majority party' of which the Senate President belongs according to the rule of sentiment.

As this Chess-like game of politics continues to unfold in preparation for 2019 elections.
It is imperative that young wigs take a grasp of novel legal issues.

Until the last card is played in this game(2019 election), there can be no winner nor loser, no victor, no vanquished.

As it is that both players are gaining points and as well losing some, it is fairly safe to say for now, that the PDP is sitting pretty.

Olufowose Samuel is a staff writer of Legal Kekenke.

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