THE Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), is launching a desperate last move to stop dissenting Senators and Reps from crossing over to the rival All Progressives Congress (APC).
In the event of failing to stop them from defection, the party has decided to get the leadership of the National Assembly to declare their seats vacant.
No fewer than 22 PDP senators are believed to be on their way to the APC. The number of reps is yet unknown.
The leadership of the PDP, according to sources, is highly scandalised by the recent defection of five of its governors to the APC and has sworn to stop its National Assembly members who are sympathetic to the governors by all means.
It was gathered that the embattled National Chairman of the party, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, has already met Senate President David Mark and Speaker Aminu Tambuwal of the House of Representatives to prevail on senators and reps suspected of planning to defect to reconsider their move or forfeit their seats.
The affected lawmakers are adamant, according to sources.
The senators, largely made up of members of the defunct Kawu Baraje-led New PDP, had shunned a peace move launched by Tukur to dissuade them from defecting to the APC.
Twenty of the New PDP senators boycotted a peace meeting called last Wednesday by the national leadership of the party. Only two of them attended the parley which was meant to give the party an opportunity to convince the lawmakers of the need for them to stay in the party.
Also in the House of Representatives, scores of PDP legislators are reportedly putting finishing touches to their planned mass defection to the APC.
Sources said barring unforeseen circumstances, the lawmakers may officially announce their defection on the floor of the House this week.
“It is no longer a secret that nearly 80 legislators in the lower chamber are now APC members. What is left to be done is an official announcement and that may just happen this week in spite of pressure and intimidation from the ruling party,” a source told The Nation.
Investigation by The Nation revealed that the leadership of the two chambers in the National Assembly has been under pressure to move against the planned defections by threatening the lawmakers that all defecting PDP lawmakers will have their seats declared vacant.
It was gathered that both Senator Mark and Speaker Tambuwal have declined to make any such announcement on the ground that since no lawmaker has notified them of his or her intention to defect, it will be unwise to precipitate crisis in the National Assembly with such threat.
One source said: “Determined to intimidate the New PDP legislators in the National Assembly, the party has been urging the leadership of the two chambers to take a position on the declaration of the seat of decamping PDP legislators vacant.
“But the Senate President and the Speaker turned all such overtures down. They are both of the opinion that unless there is a notification to the effect that a lawmaker is defecting, it is not proper for them to be the one to start a crisis by making such statement.”
Determined to brow beat the lawmakers into abandoning their planned defection, the leadership of the PDP, according to reliable sources, may have decided on another approach to the knotly issue.
“After serious consultations, especially following the refusal of the federal lawmakers to honour the invitation of the national chairman last Tuesday, the PDP has resolved to take the fight to the lawmakers in the National Assembly by formally reminding the leadership of the need to declare the seat of any defecting PDP lawmaker vacant.
“The idea is to remind those planning to defect of the danger of losing their seats. The party has been saying this since the defection crisis started but we think it will be taken more seriously if it is announced on the floors of the House and the Senate.
“If the leadership of the National Assembly wants a letter before acting, the national chairman of the PDP is now prepared to give them a letter to be read to our members reminding them of their obligations to the party that gave them a platform to go and represent their people at the national assembly,” our source said.