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ABOUT 22 Senators elected on the platform of PDP may be on their way to the All Progressive Party (APC).
This is despite Wednesday’s trouble shooting visit to the Senate by the embattled National Chairman of the PDP, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, to stop the cross over, coming soon after the defection of five PD governors to the APC.
A Senator familiar with the development told The Nation yesterday that “it’s just a matter of time for us to consummate our plan to move to the APC.”
A similar move in the House of Representatives is already generating tension in the chamber following a move by some members to sack principal officers like Depputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, Majority Leader Mulikat Akande- Adeola, Deputy Leader Leo Ogor, Chief Whip Isiaka Bawa and Deputy Chief Whip Ahmed Mohammed.
However, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal is said to have prevailed on the members to soft pedal. The Senate source said Tukur’s visit might have been prompted by the planned defection to “massage our back and give us false hope.”
The source said that “after the successful defection of the five governors to the APC, the National Assembly is the next theatre of defection.”
The source added that the three Senators from one of the Northwest states were so “pissed off with Tukur” that they walked out on him during the Senate visit.
One of the angry Senators was said to have thundered, as he walked out: “Tukur did not know how I contested and won my election; he will not also know how I will contest and win the next election.”
The source did not name the about-to-defect Senators because as he put it, “it is not in my place to announce the names of anybody who wants to leave PDP.”
“As we speak, those of us who have made up our minds to seek a new platform for our political future are not fewer than 22 in this Senate,” he said.
But he hinted that two to three senators will move from each of Jigawa, Sokoto States, Adamawa, Kano, Gombe, Kwara, Rivers and Borno States where two to three senators and one each from Nasarawa, Taraba, Kebbi and Niger States.
“We know the five governors who left PDP, we know Senators and House of Representatives members who are their (governor’s) loyalists. Very soon, the era of speculation will be over when everybody will answer his name,” he said.
Asked why Tukur left out the House of Representatives during his visit, the source said “it may be due to the perception of the leadership of the House as rebels, rightly or wrongly. It may also be that the leadership of the party considers Senators more strategic in its scheme of things.”
PDP currently has 72 members, APC has 33, LP 3 and APGA 1 in the Senate. Meanwhile, Speaker Tambuwal has stalled move by some Reps to oust certain principal officers of the House on the heel of the planned defection of PDP members to APC.
The number of APC members in the House has is believed to have risen beyond the stipulated 181 in the House rules with the defection of the five PDP governors to APC. The strength of the APC in the House was tested during this week’s plenary proceedings as they blocked a motion perceived to be against their interest.
A member of the APC in House who spoke under anonymity,said: “APC has exceeded 181 as at today. Before the PDP governors joined us, the number was 137. As you know, the rules stipulate 181. Once that is reached, the configuration changes.”
This position was confirmed by Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila of the APC, who posited that the strength of members of the party in the House is over 181. “The new arithmetic of the lawmakers in the House is 137, existing APC members plus 57 new PDP members that recently joined, making a total of 194 members,” another APC lawmaker said. APC members were initially moving for the removal of the Deputy Speaker Emeka Ihedioha, the majority Leader Mulikat Akande- Adeola, the Deputy Leader, Leo Ogor, Chief Whip, Isiaka Mohammed Bawa and the Deputy Chief Whip, Ahmed Mukhtar Mohammed. But ahead of the APC’s plan to unveil the strength of its members in the House.
Speaker Tambuwal moved to douse tension over the change in the power structure of the House. Gbajabiamila, who was in America when The Nation called him, said the unveiling is coming “soon.”
A member of the House and Chairman of the House Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) Hon. Dakuku Peterside was of the opinion that the change in power structure would bring a better Nigeria, “There has been a lot of alignment and realignment. There’s a whole new political current going on in the two chambers of the National Assembly.
One thing that is certain is that the power configuration must change. “Now, the change in power configuration will come with consequences and implications. It might affect the leadership of the parties in the National Assembly, and again it will also affect the way the NASS relates with the Executive arm of government.
“It might be negative or positive, but ultimately, it will be for the good of the Nigerian people. For the first time, there will be effective checks and balances. It will no longer be family affairs. The days of family affairs are gone and gone for good. The politics of Nigeria will never be the same again.”
The APC , sequel to a meeting held at the Kano State Government Lodge in Kano early this week with the leaders of the APC and governors elected on the party’s platform and governors who defected from the PDP, had mapped out an agenda for the change of the leadership in the House of Representatives. But Tambuwual, after the meeting in which he was present, was said to have appealed to the opposition over the matter.
The Nation learnt that one of the reasons for the appeal was that there would be division in the House should such sweeping changes in the leadership cadre of the House be effected.