A row is likely in the two chambers of the National Assembly over defections from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

The lawmakers are due back in plenary on Tuesday after an end of year break.

Before they went on recess, 37 members of the PDP in the House of Representatives defected to the APC, giving the opposition party the majority of 172 members.

Some senators are expected to announce their movement to the APC next week. The PDP is jittery.

Senate President David Mark said yesterday that the PDP would do its all to halt the defection of its members to the opposition party.

Mark admitted that the gale of defections from the PDP posed a major challenge – in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Kola Ologbondiyan.

Also yesterday, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Rules and Business, Ita Enang, said elected representatives who defect to other parties would automatically lose their seats.

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Enang, who spoke to reporters in Abuja, said the consideration of the 2014 budget, conclusion of the Constitution amendment process, amendment of the Electoral Act and the passage of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) would top the Senate’s agenda on resumption.

Mark’s statement, which comes ahead of the PDP’s National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting, also fixed for next week, said the party’s leaders would unite to save it.

The statement quoted Mark as saying: “We will arrest the current situation and save our party from further disintegration.

“Some Nigerians are talking about Tsunami in the PDP because of the defection by some members of our party holding elective and non-elective positions.

“But, as leaders, we will not sit by and continue to allow this drift. We shall do the needful and ensure that we save our great party.”

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The Senate President admitted that the development is a challenge but assured that “genuine efforts would be made to reconcile our party men and women and bring peace and unity in the party”.

He was optimistic that the Senate remained a united family, saying that what affects the welfare and well being of Nigerians would be the interests of the Senate.

Enang insisted that those who defect from their political parties after they are elected automatically lose their seats since electoral positions are contested on party basis and not on individual basis.

He said: “The party is sovereign and if one is not granted the ticket by his party, the political ambition of the person suffers a setback.

“Therefore, when legislators are elected into the National Assembly, they are voted in on the basis of the political party to which they belong and not on individual grounds.

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“It is the political parties who win the elections, and as such the seat belongs to the political party and not the individual.”

The lawmaker admitted that the Constitution and the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights guarantee freedom of association, and thus “every Nigerian has the right to join a political party, merge with a political party and form an alliance with another political party”.

On the agenda of the Senate on resumption next week, Enang said the Upper Chamber would give priority to the consideration and passage of the 2014 budget, amendment of the Constitution and the Electoral Act and pass the PIB.


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