WHAT fate now awaits the leadership of the House of Representatives in the light of the new development? Where does Speaker Aminu Tambuwal belong? Will he join the APC to keep his seat or sacrifice it? These are obviously questions earnestly begging for answers now that most of the G7 Governors have defected to the All Progressive Congress (APC).
The aggrieved governors are Chibuike Amaechi (Rivers State), Murtala Nyako (Adamawa State), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano State), Abdulfatai Ahmed (Kwara State), Aliyu Wamako ( Sokoto State), Sule Lamido (Jigawa) and Babangida Aliyu (Niger State).
As of now the Jigawa and Niger states governors have not pulled out of the PDP.
The Governors have been having a running battle since August 31, 2013 when they with Abubakar Baraje and other members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) including former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Ababakar, staged a walk out from the party’s Special Convention at Eagles Square to form what later became the new Peoples Democratic Party (nPDP) chaired by Baraje.
Shortly after the development, 58 members of the House of Representatives publicly switched sides to the Kawu Baraje nPDP after declaring their support for the governors.
The members included Abdullahi Balarabe, Abdulmumin Jibrin, Ali Ahmad, Abdullahi Muhammad Wamako, Abdullahi Muhammed Rico, Abdulmalik Usman Cheche, Adamu Bashir, Ahman-Patigi Aliyu, Ahmed Zerew, Aishatu Ahmed Binani, Aiyedun Akeem Olayinka, Alhassan Ado Garba, Aliyu Madaki, Aliyu Shehu, Aminu Shagari, Aminu Sulyman, Aminu Tukur, Andrew Uchendu, Bashir Baballe, Blessing Nsiegbe.
There were also Dakuku Peterside, Dawari George, Faruq Muhammed Lawan, Gibson Nathaniel, Gogo Bright Tamunu, Haliru Zakari Jikantoro, Hassan Adamu, Hussain Namadi, Ibrahim Ebbo, Ibrahim Tijjani Kivawa, Issa Bashir, Kabiru Achida, Khabeeb Mustapha, Maurice Pronen, Mohammed Sabo, Mpigi Barinada, Muhammad Ahmed Mukhtar, Muhammad Ibrahim, Muhammad Sani Kutigi, Mukhtari Muhammad, Musa Ado, Musa Sarkin-Adar, Mustapha Bala Dawaki, Mustapha Mashood, Ogbonna Nwuke, Rafiu Ibrahim, Sa’ad Nabunkari, Sani Muhammed Aliyu, Shuaibu Gobir, Sokonte Davies, Sufiyanu Ubale, Umar Bature, Usman Wada, Yusuph Dunari Sule, Yusuph Galambi, and Zakari Muhammed.
Following their sojourn in the nPDP, a virulent division erupted in the House between them and other members of mainstream PDP under the chairmanship of Alhaji Bamamga Tukur. Literally, the members were pro-President Goodluck Jonathan.
The division was felt on September 1, 2013 when Baraje led the group of G7 on a courtesy call on the leadership of the House.
Little had introductions and protocols been observed than a rumpus occurred in the House between the members of the two factions. Clothes were torn. Chairs were freely used in the melee that later became a free for all. Since then, the House has never been the same as there have been deep -seated animosities and aggressions among members.
The face-off reached its apogee at a point when motions and bills were turned down by members of the nPDP who seemingly formed an alliance with the opposition and outnumbered the mainstream PDP.
The grouse of the breakaway faction was hinged on the manner Tukur carried himself and his office. Some called him Lord of the Manor while others said he was becoming too autocratic and intolerant and subsequently demanded his sack.
But President Jonathan was not ready to sacrifice Tukur.
With this on the ground, the G-7 governors and the members declared “to your tents o Isreal”.
To this end, meetings after meetings, sometimes nocturnal, were held between the President and the breakaway faction all to no avail.
The matter also assumed another dimension when Tukur approached the court which eventually ruled in his favour. But that was far from solving the internal wrangling and bickering eating up the party.
It was to climax when the Governors began a massive consultation with those considered the ancient pillars of the PDP. This was in company of the likes of former Head of State, General Muhammadu Buhari and former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu, who are leaders of the APC.
This saw the likes of former President Olusegun Obasanjo, former heads of state, Ibrahim Babangida and Abdusalami Abubukar hosting the governors in a bid to find solution to the matter.
But the matter assumed a dangerous dimension on Tuesday when the five of the aggrieved governors nPDP leaders defected to APC.
Surely, the development is expected to have a spiral effect on the House. There is apprehension that it
could scuttle the leadership of the PDP-led House.
How? It will make the PDP which used to be the majority, a minority party in the House.
This is predicated on the calculation that the members under the nPDP would also follow their governors to APC.
At the moment, the House has 360 members. Of this number, APC which is an offspring of ACN, ANPP, and CPC has 138 members.
At present, PDP has 208 members, while the opposition APC has 138 members. With the exception of Jigawa and Niger states whose governors said they are still part of the PDP, Kano, Kwara, Rivers, Adamawa and Sokoto states have a total of 48 lawmakers out of which about 40 are said to be with the nPDP.
Should the 40 PDP members in the five G7 governors states join the APC, the party’s lawmakers will now be 178, while the PDP will be left with 168. This will ultimately make the APC to be in majority leaving the PDP as the minority in the House.
Also if all the 67 nPDP members defect to APC, it will have a total of 205 members.
With this, the mainstream PDP or Pro-Jonathan lawmakers will take the back seat while APC would take the lead.
But there are big questions. Will Speaker Tambuwal whose State Governor, Wamakko and his colleague-lawmakers from Sokoto had gone to APC follow suit or play the dissident? Would he prefer to sacrifice his exalted office? What happens when the number is streamlined?
House will decide my fate— Tambuwal
However, on the heels of the development, the speaker said it was at the discretion of the House members to know whether they would follow their governors or not.
In a statement by his Media Aide, Mallam Imam Imam, the Tambuwal said they would follow the process if they wanted to cross carpet to APC.
He said: “Members of Parliament ( MPs )will decide collectively on when to defect. They have their internal process if they decide to cross carpet, let’s wait and see whether they can activate the process or not.”
Reps rule out leadership change in House
Meanwhile, the House said on Thursday that despite the defection of five nPDP governors to the opposition APC, nothing will change in its leadership as no member has so far communicated to the leadership of his intention to move.
Briefing journalists yesterday, Deputy Spokesman of the House Rep Victor Afam Ogene (APGA, Anambra) said until such a time when members formally declare their intention, the House remains the way it is.
He said Section 68 (1) of the Nigeria 1999 constitution as amended provides that members can only defect to another political party in group base on merger agreement but that what is happening in the PDP cannot be defined as such.
“In politics, things like this happen, but as a House, we remain one. Section 68 (1) (g) of the 1999 constitution, as amended, says people cannot cross carpet in group except in merger situation. But defection has to do with individual member, so if they’re defecting, the proper thing must be done by activating that section of the constitution.
“As at now, we are not aware of any member defecting to another party. Remember, going by our rule, until a party has 181 members, you can’t talk of having the majority.”
Before Ogene’s briefing, individual members spoke to Vanguard on the implications of the development.
It’ll make PDP a minority in the House – Nwuke
Hon. Ogbonna Nwuke, member representing Etche/Omuma Federal Constituency in the House of Representatives, said: “I think that the timing of the merger is perfect. It is coming in the face of unnecessary delays, unnecessary deceptions and some lack of faith in the negotiation between the President, officials of the PDP and the governors. I think that the governors had given hope to Nigeria and they have given a Christmas package to their supporters who indeed have been yearning for some change in the direction of Nigerian politics. So, I believe that the movement is significant at least for now, we can say to ourselves that we know those who are progressive-minded and we know those who are reactionary within the Nigerian system.”
On the likely effect on the House of Reps, he said: “Certainly, it will tilt the balance of power within the House. That is clear because what it means is that the PDP will move from a majority to becoming the minority within the House. That is the present impact it will have. I don’t imagine that it will affect the leadership of the House under Speaker Tambuwal. What is key is that as it stands now, the PDP is in minority. Their status has changed. The leadership of the House will certainly become minority in the House while those within the APC will certainly become the majority.”
It is a welcome development— Sumaila
Also speaking, Hon. Suleiman Abdurahman Kawu Sumaila, Deputy Minority Leader, said: “We received with the joy the long-awaited merger of our beloved political party the All Progressives Congress with the group of G7 governors of the nPDP. It is a welcome development that will forever shape the political history of Nigeria. With this merger, a new chapter has now been opened in our collective struggles for the emancipation of the Nigerian people from the 14 years of internal slavery, bondage and suppression under the PDP.”
It won’t affect PDP –Bawa
Chief Whip of the House, Hon Mohammed Ishaka Bawa (PDP,Taraba), said the development would not affect the PDP.
”As the Nigerian constitution provides, they have the right to freedom of association; they have the right to launch any political party of their choice. Nobody is in PDP by force. You can decide to leave at any time you wish to. But what I want Nigerians to know is that PDP will continue to wax stronger despite all that is happening.
This is not the first time in PDP; this is not the first time in the political development of Nigeria. I’ll like to take you back to 1983 when some progressive governors decided to leave their party; we had Nwobodo, Abubakar Barde, Abubakar Rimi and a host of them who left their party, but what was the result after they left?
”If that is their wish, the constitution guarantees them that freedom. In PDP, we have 1001 ways of consolidating ourselves. In 2011, there were some strong members of the PDP that left, including former Vice President Atiku Abubakar, but the PDP still won.
”It depends on the calculation and the members that show interest. Is it all members that show interest? We’re not aware of any member that wants to move with his governor. Until a letter is sent to Mr Speaker and read on the floor of the House we cannot decide to count to know the number of people who defected. PDP will never be minority in the House up to 2015; I can assure you that. The members will not automatically leave; they’ll remain in the party.”
They’re free to join APC— Igbokwe
Speaking in like manner, Hon Nnanna Igbokwe(PDP, Imo), lawmakers who wished to defect are were free to do so. “They are free to join any party they like, that is the beauty of democracy. But to say that it will affect the PDP, I don’t think so.
This will make our democracy to become more robust; it will make us to go back and strategise. I would have loved that the issue causing the standoff was resolved amicably. PDP is a big party and I know that it will overcome the challenge posed by the exit of these people”.
Other Reps speak
Also reacting, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila, Opposition Leader in the House, said: “We receive them and all others who are committed to change and who are progressive in inclination with open arms. The change that all Nigerians desire has only just started”.
Hon. Dakuku Peterside (PDP, Rivers) said, “it is a watershed in our democratic journey and hope rekindled.
The beneficiary is the Nigerian people, democracy and democratic culture can never be the same again and our democratic institutions will be strengthened by implication . Never again will the people be taken for granted”.
To Hon. Abiodun Faleke (APC, Lagos), “this is the best for Nigeria at this point of our democratic journey.
The House of Representatives will witness better performance with this development, I believe”.
Hon. Aliyu Madaki (PDP, Kano), said: “This landmark event has shown us that our democracy is growing and strong too.
If people can have the freedom to choose where they want to belong, I think, as a people, we should be commended. “For me, I see this as a way forward for our democracy and with this, the future is not only brought for our democracy but the entirety of Nigerian people.
I believe Nigerians will see begin to see a more vibrant federal legislature because there is a new order in place”.
Hon. Lanre Odubote (APC, Lagos), added: “It’s a development to our polity as it will save us from the impunity and corruption that pervade the system since 1999.”
Rep Sani Madaki, PDP, Kano said he join Kwankwaso in APC. “We’ll follow our governors; there’s no doubt about it. We can’t continue to stay and face injustice. This is the moment we’ve been waiting for, and this will eventually change the leadership in the House.
Also, Rep Razaq Bello-Osagie, APC representing Oredo Federal Constituency, Edo said: “The G7 governors are Nigerians whose rights are protected in the 1999 constitution including the right of association with an alternative and truly progressive APC platform. Nigerians have lost faith in the ability of PDP as a party to provide leadership in a country so blessed with human and material resources.”