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37 PDP members in the House of Representatives defect to APC

Thirty-seven members of the Peoples Democratic Party in the House of Representatives ended months of speculation on Wednesday as they formally defected to the All Progressives Congress.

The development increased the numerical strength of the APC from 135 to 172. With this, it now has a simple majority in the House as the PDP now has 171 members.

Seventeen other lawmakers are members of the All Progressives Grand Alliance, Labour Party, Accord Party and Peoples Party of Nigeria.

House of Representatives Nigeria
House of Rep. Nigeria
| credits: http://ikalevoice.com

The APC had 137 members at a point but Mr. Bamidele Opeyemi, a member from Ekiti State, defected to the Labour Party, while Mr. Benjamin Aboho (Benue State) moved to the PDP.

This left the APC with 135 members before the 37 former PDP lawmakers joined the party.

Thirty-six of the 37 ex-PDP members came from four states (Kano, Rivers, Kwara and Sokoto), whose governors had earlier defected to the APC.

The 37th member (Dogara) came from Bauchi State.

Curiously, members from Adamawa State, whose governor (Murtala Nyako) had also joined the APC, did not defect on Wednesday.

The defectors wrote a letter to the Speaker, Mr. Aminu Tambuwal, citing alleged “divisions and factions” in the PDP as their reasons for moving to the APC.

The speaker read out the letter and the names of the defectors on the floor.

They stood up to acknowledge their decision to abandon the PDP amid cheers and clapping by the APC lawmakers.

The letter reads, “We, the undersigned members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the PDP, wish to inform you that we have joined the APC.

“This action is as a result of the division (factionalisation) in the political party that sponsored our election into the House of Representatives.

“Furthermore, we write to inform you that following this division, the faction of the PDP, which we belong to, has formally merged with the APC.

“This communication is made pursuant to Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999, for your information, guidance and records.”

The letter was dated December 18, 2013.

Some of the prominent defectors are the Chairman, House Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Mr. Zakari Mohammed (Kwara); Chairman, Committee on Petroleum Resources (Downstream), Mr. Dakuku Peterside (Rivers); Chairman, Committee on Justice, Mr. Ali Ahmad (Kwara); Chairman, House Committee on Judiciary, Mr. Aminu Shagari (Sokoto); and Chairman, Committee on House Services, Mr. Yakubu Dogara (Bauchi State).

There was jubilation on the floor of the House as the APC members hugged the defectors and shook hands with them.

Most of the PDP members looked worried as they watched the unfolding drama on the floor.

However, some of them were heard shouting “PDP, power”; “PDP, power to the people”; “PDP, no shaking.”

The defectors soon filed past Tambuwal, shaking hands with him.

A member from Rivers State, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, tried to protest the defection.

Raising Order 57(5) of the House Rules, he told the House that the matter was before a law court.

According to Chinda, the same members, who defected on Wednesday, had filed a suit seeking an order restraining the PDP from declaring their seats vacant after their defection.

Chinda argued that since the substantive suit was pending before the court, it was not proper for the members to defect.

In his response, Tambuwal merely said, “noted”, and looked away from Chinda.

Another member from Enugu State, Mr. Pat Asadu, also protested that there was no crisis in the PDP, but he too lost out.

Asked to comment on the complaint of the PDP members, the Chairman, Committee on Justice, Mr. Ali Ahmad,who is also a defector, recalled that the House had long established that there was a faction in the PDP.

He added, “Recall that we took resolution number HR/RF/36/2013, vide votes and proceedings of Tuesday, September 17, 2013.

“The resolution came from a motion moved by Chinda himself, who stated that in view of the factions in the PDP, the House should pass a vote of confidence in the speaker.

“He is a PDP member and he moved that motion; so, the House already acknowledged that the PDP had factions.

“The motion was unanimously carried. We cannot come back today (Wednesday) and claim that there is no faction in PDP.”

It had been anticipated that the APC would assume the majority leadership of the House on Wednesday after it gained one member advantage over the PDP, but nothing of such happened.

The House still maintained its existing leadership structure on Wednesday.

When asked why this was so, Ahmad replied that the aim of the APC was not to hurriedly effect a change in leadership but to “make a bold statement as a political party.”

He said, “We have heard all sorts of things like we want to impeach Mr. President and all that; that is not our aim.

“People just go to the Villa (Aso Rock) and say all sorts of things about the House just to get favours.

“Our intention is not to wrest power from the majority or cause confusion in the polity.”

However, investigations showed that the APC was buying time to win over more members and be in “comfortable majority” before calling for a change of structures in the House.

“We want to get at least 181 members fully declared and recorded for the APC.

“With that done, we will be home and dry”, a key APC source confided in The PUNCH.

Findings indicated that close to 40 more PDP members might declare for the APC by January 2014.

“There are members from states, whose governors have not defected to the APC.

“These members have issues with their governors; it is a matter of time before they move to the APC”, another source said.

But the leadership of the PDP threatened to drag the lawmakers to court over their action which it described as treacherous.

It said after its National Working Committee meeting which held immediately after the news broke, that the defection did not follow due process..

A statement issued after the meeting by its National Publicity Secretary, Chief Olisa Metuh , reads in part, “The defection, if confirmed to be true, is treacherous and a huge betrayal not only of the PDP but millions of voters ,who worked hard for their election on the platform of the PDP in their respective constituencies.

“As lawmakers, the defectors must no doubt be aware of provisions of section 68 (1) (g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) which clearly states the conditions upon which a member of the Legislature will change platforms.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the courts of our land have declared that the PDP is one and not bedevilled by any factions.

“Any member of the National or State Assembly who therefore renounces his membership of a united PDP must be ready to face the consequences of defection in line with provisions of the constitution.”

The PDP therefore condemned what it described as a desperate attempt by selfish politicians to cause confusion in the polity.

















Source: Punch




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