EXCLUSIVE: Fall of PDP from majority to minority in NASS

Sharon EboesomiMay 11, 202410 min

Once touted as the biggest political party, the PDP has receded drastically in fortunes from majority to minority in the National Assembly within the last 25 years of the federal legislature 

The PDP logo

For certain, the mantra of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) of being the largest party in Africa has been stopped dead. In the past few years, the party has experienced a wave of defections despite its 16-year domination of Nigeria’s electoral politics, which was made possible by its geographical spread across the nooks and crannies of the country. 

In spite of occasional internal combustions like abrupt changes in leadership, the party managed to stay in the commanding heights of national politics, bestriding the national assembly like a collosus. And then the general elections of 2015 came like a tsunami of seismic proportions. The centre could no longer hold and the cookies started to crumble. 

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Formation of the PDP

The G18, a group of eighteen distinguished but enraged Nigerians, took a historic action in 1997 that led to the foundation of the PDP, which was led by Alex Ekwueme, the country’s former vice president under the Second Republic. Later on, this group increased to 34 members, at which point it changed its name to G34. Demilitarisation of Nigerian politics in its entirety and without exception was the group’s core goal.

The PDP won all three of Nigeria’s presidential elections between 1999 and 2011, giving rise to Olusegun Obasanjo, Umaru Musa Yar’adua, and Goodluck Jonathan. The party was led by no fewer than eleven national chairmen from 1999 to 2015.

60 years in power boast busted

It was Vincent Ogbulafor, former national chairman of the PDP, who reportedly boasted that the party would remain in power for 60 years unchallenged. With an undisputed majority in both the Senate and House of Representatives, and with contry at most of the 36 states of the country, it was not difficult to make that boast. But like bubbles, empires rise and empires fall. Only that the wear-out of the political umbrella came earlier than expected. The emergence of the All Progressive Congress (APC) challenged the status quo successfully in 2015. And since then, the PDP has been in a constant state of crisis, living off life support.

PDP’s hey days in the National Assembly (NASS)

The erstwhile ruling party held sway in the NASS. This was demonstrated by the fact that between 1999 and 2011, it produced the presiding officers in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The other parties, including the precursors to the APC, were left to make do with constituting the minority caucuses of both chambers. Below is a table showing the names of the presiding officers of the NASS since 1999:

Senate President Term of Office Political party Speaker (House of Reps) Term of Office Political party
Took office Left office Took office Left office
Evan Enwerem 3 June 1999

(4th Assembly)

18 November 1999 PDP Salisu Buhari 3 June 1999

(4th Assembly)

23 July 1999 PDP
Chuba Okadigbo 18 November 1999

(4th Assembly)

8 August 2000 PDP Ghali Umar Na’Abba 23 July 1999

(4th Assembly)

3 June 2003 PDP
Anyim Pius Anyim 8 August 2000

(4th Assembly)

3 June 2003 PDP
Adolphus Wabara 3 June 2003

(5th Assembly)

5 April 2005 PDP Aminu Bello Masari 3 June 2003

(5th Assembly)

5 June 2007 PDP
Ken Nnamani 5 April 2005

(5th Assembly)

5 June 2007 PDP
David Mark 5 June 2007(6th Assembly) 5 June 2011 PDP Patricia Etteh 5 June 2007 30 October 2007 PDP
Dimeji Bankole 1 November 2007

(6th Assembly)

6 June 2011 PDP
David Mark 6 June 2011

(7th Assembly)

6 June 2015 PDP Aminu Waziri Tambuwal 6 June 2011

(7th Assembly)

29 May 2015 PDP

(Later defected to APC on 28th October, 2014)

Bukola Saraki 9 June 2015

(8th Assembly)

9 June 2019 APC Yakubu Dogara 9 June 2015

(8th Assembly)

9 June 2019 APC
Ahmed Ibrahim Lawan 11 June 2019

(9th Assembly)

11 June 2023 APC Femi Gbajabiamila 11 June 2019

(9th Assembly)

11 June 2023 APC
Godswill Akpabio 13 June 2023 

(10th Assembly)

Incumbent APC Tajudeen Abbas 13 June 2023

(10th Assembly)

Incumbent APC

The party configuration of the NASS

Prior to the emergence of the APC, other parties that existed alongside the PDP include: the Social Democratic People (SDP), All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA). African Democratic Congress (ADC), Action Alliance (AA), All Nigerian Peoples Party (ANPP), Action Congress of Nigeria, Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), Alliance for Democracy.

After the APC was founded and a large number of PDP members defected to its fold, the former ruling party consequently began to lose its majority status in both houses of the National Assembly. Not only did it lose control of the majority status in parliament, it also lost the leadership (presiding officers) of the Senate and House of Representatives.

Formation of the APC

The Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), as well as a breakaway faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and the ‘new PDP’, a faction of the PDP that was in power at the time, came together to form the party in February 2013. The resolution was signed by Senator Annie Okonkwo on behalf of APGA; Tom Ikimi, the ACN; Ibrahim Shekarau, the ANPP’s merger committee chairman; and Garba Shehu, the CPC’s merger committee chairman. On July 31, 2013, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) granted the fledgling platform permission to become a political party.

NASS elections results from 1999 to 2015

To demonstrate the changing fortunes of the former ruling party, the table below shows the strength of the PDP and APC in the NASS since the 4th assembly:

Year Senate (PDP) Senate (APC) House of Representatives (PDP) House of Representatives (APC)
4th Assembly (1999) 59 Not Formed 206 Not Formed
5th Assembly (2003) 76 223
6th Assembly (2007) 85 262
7th Assembly (2011) 72 203
8th Assembly (2015)  49 60 140 212
7th Assembly 

(2019)

45 64 115 217
10th Assembly 

(2023)

37 59 119 176

And like a bad dream, the PDP moved from being the majority in both chambers of the National Assembly to being a part of the minority caucus while the APC stands as the majority in both chambers.

10th NASS Membership: OrderPaper has curated a detailed database of members of the 10th National Assembly – Senate and House of Representatives – for citizens to track the stewardship profiles of their representatives.

Sharon Eboesomi

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