11 PDP senators announce defection to APC

By The Rainbow

Finally, the 11 senators elected under the auspices of the Peoples Democratic Party who had been waiting on the wings have jumped ship to the rival All Progressives Congress (APC).

A formal letter to this effect has been delivered to the Senate President, David Mark, on Wednesday and it is expected to be read on the floor of the Senate.

The letter was submitted to Mark yesterday morning by Senator Bukola Saraki (Kwara Central) during plenary.

With the defection of the 11 senators, APC’s ranks in the Senate swelled. However, PDP still retained its majority in the upper chamber of the National Assembly. The current configuration of the Senate was altered to PDP - 61, APC 44, Labour Party (LP) - three, and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) - 1. Although the letter contained 16 names, only 11 of them appended their signatures to it. It was learnt that the five other senators had opted to stay back in PDP. Those who signed the letter besides Saraki were Abdullahi Adamu (Nasarawa West), Umaru Dahiru (Sokoto South), Danjuma Goje (Gombe Central), Shaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Aisha Alhassan (Taraba North) and Magnus Abe (Rivers South-east). Others were Ali Ndume (Borno South), Bindowo Jubrilla (Adamawa North), Wilson Ake (Rivers West) and Ibrahim Gobir (Sokoto East). Senators who backed out from the defection plan were Ahmed Zannah (Borno Central), Barata Ahmed (Adamawa South), Saidu Alkali (Gombe North), Basheer Mohammed (Kano Central) and Ahmad Maccido (Sokoto North). The letter read: 'We the undersigned senators of the Federal Republic of Nigeria elected under the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wish to notify you that we have severally and jointly joined the All Progressives Congress (APC). 'This action and decision is (sic) as a result of the division and fictionalization (sic) of PDP that sponsored our elections into the Senate. 'In view of the above, we write to inform you that following the division and factionalisation in the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), we have formally joined the All Progressives Congress. This communication is made pursuant to Section 68(1)(g) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) for your information, guidance and purposes.' The defection letter was the climax of a series of events on their planned defection, which formally commenced on September 2 last year when 22 senators broke away to join the splinter group in the party called New PDP. The move followed a walkout staged by five governors along with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar and PDP's former Acting National Chairman, Abubakar Baraje, alongside others. Preparatory to the defection, 13 senators last week had addressed a letter to Mark titled, 'Sustenance and Protection of the Unity of National Assembly as An Institution', where they urged him not to declare their seats vacant when they defect. The letter was signed by Saraki, Adamu, Abe, Ake, Lafiagi, Goje, Alhassan and Ndume. Other signatories included Dahiru, Gobir, Jubrilla, Ahmed and Zannah. The letter was dated January 20, 2014. However, by the time the notice of defection was written, two of them, Zannah and Ahmed, had withdrawn.

It was reported that  Dahiru had gone back to see the senate president, informing him that he had changed his mind.

A report indicated that the Senate President  did not read the letter on WEdnesday because he had insisted that the letter must be written individually by each of the senators desirous of crossing carpet, saying since they were not collectively elected, they should not defect collectively as well. It was also reported that  Mark invited the defecting senators to a meeting last night in a last minute effort to persuade them not leave PDP. In the first letter written last week, the senators who said they viewed the threat to declare their seats vacant with serious concern, also described the threat as mischievous and capable of undermining the independence of the legislature and simultaneously taking the mandate given to such senators. They also alluded to a court order asking the concerned parties to maintain the status quo until the final determination of the matter on the defection before an Abuja High Court, arguing that in view of the order, the matter of defection could not be subject to debate or discussion in the Senate. The letter further read: 'We hereby note that this is not the first experience in the Senate where some senators have moved to political parties of their choice as a result of one reason or the other, whereas such has not caused any political tension or intimidation. It is our resolve that the Senate should maintain and sustain this principle and precedence. 'It is our resolve that we do not support any attempt that the seat of any senator proposing to defect to another political party be declared vacant except by recall process from their constituents or by the pronouncement of a court of competent and final jurisdiction, rather than politics of intimidation, harassment and or comment that could jeopardize the peaceful co-existence of the unity of Nigeria. 'We finally enjoin the leadership of the National Assembly to continue to accommodate all legislators irrespective of their views, believing that our country can make progress when we tolerate, respect one another and the rule of law.'

The other Senators in the list that did not sign are; Ahmed Muhammed Maccido from Sokoto North, Saidu Ahmed Alkali from Gombe North, Basheer Garba Mohammed from Kano Central, Ahmed  Zanna from Borno Central and Ahmed Hassan Barata from Adamawa South.

There are chances that more Senators will defect to the APC as it was not clear why the five Senators did not sign.

A political analyst and lawyer, Osahon Ihehene, told Channels Television that  there was no ideology behind the defections, as they were all triggered by selfish interest.

'The politicians are defecting for their personal interest they are selfish people. It has practically nothing for the Nigerian electorates.

'The man feels his interest would not be protected in the party he is at the moment and he decides to move. All they are doing is trying to protect their own interests.

'There is no difference between PDP and APC. The only thing that joined them is just selfish interest and corruption and nothing more,' the lawyer said.

He said that section 68 of the Nigerian Constitution stipulated that a lawmaker can only defect to another party where there is division in a party or merger of two political parties.

Mr Ihehene insisted that what the lawmakers were playing out was selfishness, saying that 'everybody is just thinking of what he can gain'.