Defection of 37 legislators, an absurdity

By David Ekomwenrenren

Defection of Governors and National Assembly members- Nigerians must surely hold our political class responsible in the event our nation becomes a wrecked-ship. Being a statement by the Benin National Congress.

In view of the ugly and ominous atmosphere that has beclouded our polity in recent times, it has become sacrosanct for well meaning individuals and groups to speak up, even at the risk of being labeled as 'militants' with a view to calling the political class to order. The struggle for power must be exercised with moderation, else we throw the proverbial baby and bath water into the lagoon. We have watched with disdain and utter consternation the despicable tendencies by our political leaders, especially leaders of the opposition parties across the nation, with particular reference to the spate of defection from their original party on the basis of which they were elected into another party contrary to the constitution of the land. More worrisome is the defection of thirty seven law makers, when in actual fact, they are very elected officers that drafted the amended sections of the constitution, which they equally fast-racked into law. Naturally, they are supposed to be restrained by the very relevant sections of the constitution which debar an elected officer from defection into another party, without satisfying manifest attendant clauses.

Having regards to the perceived persecution which some political actors claimed they have been through in the hands of their leaders in the PDP, they failed in their bid to create the relevant alibi that will make their cross-carpeting justiceable. For instance, Section 68 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution as amended which states: “A member of the Senate or of the House of Representatives shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member 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 that House was elected; 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 political parties or factions by one of which he was previously sponsored.”

It is worthy of note that on Friday, October 18, 2013, a Federal High Court sitting in Abuja and presided over by His Lordship, Justice Elvis Chukwu, had ruled that there was no division in PDP and thus restrained the self-styled new PDP from using the colour and logo of the PDP under the chair of Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Recall that the Court had also ordered the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to refrain from recognising, dealing and relating with the new PDP.

It should be further noted that prior to the ruling, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had on Friday, October 10, 2013, expressly declared that it did not recognize the now defunct new PDP, thus putting paid to the factionalisation plot being orchestrated by members of the defecting-group-group of legislators.

The Commission, in a letter with reference number INEC/LEG/PDP/19/111/245 signed by the Acting Secretary, Mr. U.F. Usman, addressed to the National Secretary to the now defunct new PDP, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, had acknowledged receipt of his letters dated 1st and 23rd September wherein he had requested for the Commission's recognition of the Alhaji Kawu Baraje-led NWC.

The Commission had noted in the letter: “You will recall that the Commission monitored the National Convention and Special National Convention of the PDP held on the 24th of March 2012 and 31st of August 2013 at the Eagle Square, Abuja, after notices to the Commission.

“A National Working Committee (NWC) was elected at the two conventions with Alhaji Bamanga Tukur as the National Chairman. The Commission will not withdraw recognition from the leadership of the PDP elected at the conventions duly monitored by the Commission. Be guided.

In the circumstance, the seats of the thirty seven legislators ought to be immediately declared vacant, and they will be demonstrating uncommon patriotism if they resign their seats and join their new found party, rather than playing hide and seek politics, or attempting to the denigrate the very laws that they passionately worked upon with tax payers money. This is most unfair and a ploy that could endanger our polity, if not checked and resisted by the mass of the electorates.

In a nutshell, as a socio-cultural organization that believes in proactive interventions, Nigerians are collectively urged to condemn in totality the brazen attempt by a set of politicians to sacrifice our collective aspirations for a peaceful, stable and enduring society for the whims and caprice of their political godfathers. We should not wait until our nation is plunged into socio-political fiasco before taking the desirable steps to prevent it, the time to hold our leaders accountable for their irresponsibility is now, because its obvious that they are taking the masses for a ride. The Congress will not support President Jonathan for a 2nd term, until we are satisfied that he has delivered all his promises on the so called transformation agenda; but all the same, we will have to condemn the seeming unpalatable behavioral tendencies of our opposition figures who are dangerously dragging the elasticity of relative peace and tranquility in Nigeria.

Dr. David Ekomwenrenren , Director of Publicity and Intelligence.