A major political tremor hit the House of Representatives yesterday, with 37 members of the new Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) defecting to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The APC is now in the majority. It has 171 members. The PDP, hitherto in the majority with 208 members, is in the minority, with 167 members.
A letter by the intending defectors was first read by the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, to the members in the Chamber.
The December 18 letter is titled: “Communication of Change of Political Party”, addressed to the Speaker.
“We, the undersigned members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), wish to inform you that we have joined the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“This action is as a result of the division/faction in the political party that sponsored our election into the House of Representatives. (see House Resolution No: HR/36/2013, vide votes and proceedings of Tuesday, 17 September, 2013 as attached).
“Furthermore, we write to inform you that following this division, the faction of the PDP, which we belong to, has formally merged with the All Progressives Congress, 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, please.
In all, 11 members from Kano, Sokoto (10), Rivers (eight), Kwara (six) and one each from Katsina and Bauchi defected to the APC.
From Kano State are: Nasir G. Sule, Ahmad A. Zarewa, Aliyu Sani Madaki, Bashir Babale, Alhassan Ado, Munir Dan’ Agundi, Aminu Suleiman, Abudulmumin Jibrin, Musa Ado, Musthapha Bala and Mukthari Mohammed.
Those from Sokoto State are: Kabiru Marafa Achida, Aminu Shagari, Isa Salihipu Bashir, Abdulahi Mohammed Wamako, Saadu Nabunkari, Aliyu Shehu, Shuaibu Gobir, Musa Sarkin-Adar , Abdullahi Balarabe and Umar Bature.
From Rivers State are: Andrew Uchendu, Asita Honourable, Sokonte Davies, Dakuku Peterside, Mpigi Barinada, Pronen Maurice, Dawari George and Ogbonna Nwuke.
Kwara State has on its list: Ali Ahmad, Rafiu Ibrahim Adebayo, Aiyedun Akeem Olayinka, Mustafa Moshood, Aliyu Ahman- Pategi and Zakari Mohammed.
Two other members, Nasiru Sani from Katsina State and Yakubu Dogara from Bauchi, were also on the list.
They all wrote their names in their handwriting and signed with the proviso at the top of the pages that states: “ We the undersigned hereby certify that we have perfected all arrangements to move from PDP to APC, today 28 November, 2013”, showing that the defection had been planned for an earlier date.
The announcement of the defection was greeted with a roar by members in applause from the APC members and protestation from the PDP members.
The names of the defecting members were read out by the Speaker. Thereafter, all the members involved filed out amidst the ovation. Led by the leader of the opposition, Femi Gbajabiamila, they went to shake hands with the Speaker.
There were shouts of “APC! APC! APC!”. PDP members on the floor also countered with shouts of “ PDP! PDP! PDP!” as they tried to outshine their APC counterparts.
Old APC members in the House then went round the chamber, shaking hands with the new members and chatting with them in groups.
The defection by the 37 members puts an end to the speculations on their political future. It was a culmination of weeks of meetings and speculations.
Efforts by a member, Kingsley Chinda (Rivers PDP), to get the Speaker to reverse the defection was not accepted.
Chinda said it was sub-judice for the House to accept the defection of the members to APC as a case on the matter filed by the members themselves “is still alive and pending”.
He urged the speaker to ensure “that they defect at the proper time”.
“I have listened to your point and have taken note,” the Speaker rejected. That ended the matter.
Earlier, the House said it had accepted the$ 77.5 per barrel benchmark. Tambuwal, who announced the decision after a short closed-door session, said the MTEF and benchmark issue had been finally resolved.
A motion to allow the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, to bring the 2014 budget estimates today was also passed.
The House also adopted the Conference Committee Report on the 2014-2016 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and Fiscal Strategy Paper.