- Dogara urges aggrieved members to seek legal redress as minority leader kicks
- APC takes over Ondo assembly with 18 lawmakers
James Emejo in Abuja
Citing division within the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), a member of the House of Representatives on the platform of the party representing Jos South/Jos East Federal constituency of Plateau State, Hon. Edward Pwajok, wednesday defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
His defection was witnessed by the Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong who was present during plenary on the House floor.
It is rare to have a governor grace a defection ceremony.
Pwajokâ€™s defection also came barely two months after another member of the House, Saleh Hassan who was elected on the platform of the PDP from Benue State defected to the APC.
Pwajokâ€™s defection was announced at plenary by Speaker of the House, Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
He cited divisions and irreconcilable differences in the PDP as his reason for leaving the party.
He said the party is currently divided from the national level to the ward level in his state following divisions between the factions in the national leadership.
He said the PDP was irreparably damaged, adding that its present woes were largely self-inflicted following the admission of Ali Modu Sheriff into the party against opposition from concerned members.
He said even one of PDP factional leaders, Ahmed Markafi had recently advised members to defect to other parties, adding that it had become a source of worry going by such admonition by supposedly top official of the party.
He said: â€œI am left with no option but to appraise my membership of the party and go along with my constituents…
â€œI hereby renounce my membership of the PDP and after due consultation with my constituents, I have decided to join the APC with effect from today.â€
However, shortly after his defection was announced, Pwajok proceeded to the Speaker who congratulated him.
He was also received with warm embrace by the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila (APC, Lagos) before proceeding into the waiting hands of Lalong, who was earlier welcome into the chamber.
But the House Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor (PDP, Delta), had raised a point of order, urging the speaker to declare Pwajokâ€™s seat vacant.
He further argued that the PDP was not divided as claimed by Pwajok and pointed out that Ali Modu Sheriff remained the authentic National Chairman of the PDP.
After about 10 minutes of the defection scenario, other PDP members expressed concern that the Speaker had allowed too much time on the item as the House became a bit rowdy- amid jubilation and point of orders between members of both parties.
However, Dogara, on a lighter note, vowed to give an hour for the celebration of any defection from the ruling APC to PDP.
Both Dogara and Gbajabiamila however, advised the PDP to proceed to court if they have any grievances to address on the issue.
Pwajok later told journalists that as a lawyer, he was ready for any legal action from his former party
He said the governorâ€™s presence showed he is held in high esteem and portrayed in positive light as one with valuable asset to meet the aspirations of the people of his state.
Pwajokâ€™s defection brings the total number of APC members in the House to 227 while the PDP members are reduced to 124.
Other parties account for other 10 seats.
In a related development, another five members of the Ondo State House of Assembly who were elected on the platform of the PDP yesterday defected to the APC.
The defectors are the former Deputy Speaker, Mr. Fatai Olotu, Mr. Akinyele Fasogbon, Mr. Kuti Towase, Mr. Bimbo Fadoju and Mr. Tuyi Akintimehin.
With defection of the five lawmakers, the APC, which at the inauguration of the assembly in 2015 had only five members in the assembly, now has 18 lawmakers and now in the majority.
Welcoming the defectors at the event that was held at the International Event Centre, the state Governor , Mr. Rotimi Akeredolu, predicted that the state assembly would soon be totally taken over by the ruling APC.
The assembly has 26 members.
Akeredolu said with the way things are going, more PDP state lawmakers would decamp to the ruling party in the next few days.
Akeredolu said: â€œThe assembly will soon belong to the APC and I want to tell you that we have no enemy among the legislators. All of them are willing to work with us, they are ready to work for the state, we have a wonderful assembly.
â€œ I believe these lawmakers (defectors) will talk to other colleagues (in the PDP) and they too will join us.â€
He urged the party leaders across the state not to discriminate against the new party men, saying they should be carried along always in all the party activities in their various local government areas.
Speaking on behalf of other defectors, the immediate former deputy speaker, Olotu, who resigned his from the position following the crisis of the assembly, said they were wooed by the achievements of the Akerelodu-led administration in the last few months of assuming power in the state.
He particularly commended the governor over his efforts in resolving the recent leadership crisis that rocked the assembly.
He expressed his readiness and other defectors to support the party adding that they would add value to the APC.