•Opposition party’s senator defects
By Deji Elumoye and Chuks Okocha
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) yesterday exchanged brickbats of allegations that some opposition bigwigs are planning to join the ruling party.
The Chairman of the Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee of the ruling party and Yobe State Governor, Mai Mala Buni, set the stage for the squabble when he alleged that more political heavyweights from other political parties will soon defect to the APC.
He spoke against the backdrop of the defection of PDP’s Senator Elisha Abbo (Adamawa North) to the ruling party.
Abbo defected a week after Ebonyi State Governor, Chief Dave Umahi, dumped PDP for APC.
With Abbo’s defection, the number of seats controlled by the ruling party in the Senate now stands at 60.
However, the main opposition party has told Abbo to be ready to lose his seat since the constitution frowns upon defection, except in stipulated situations, which the senator didn’t meet.
Buni in his remarks at a meeting with the APC Senate caucus yesterday, assured them that APC was expecting massive and unprecedented defections “ever witnessed in the political history of our great country, and by the grace of God, APC will undoubtedly remain Nigeria’s leading political party.”
He said the party recently witnessed the defection of some political bigwigs and return of some party members to the ruling party with the resolution of conflicts in some state chapters of the party.
“Today, we are proud to say that the conflicts in most, if not all of the states, have been settled.
The party now proudly parades political heavyweights in their respective states, who have either returned to the party or freshly joined the party. We have the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, former PDP National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade, several members of the National Assembly, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr.
Danladi Kifasi, Senator Isa Hamma Misau, Alhaji Salisu Takai, among others. Our recent big catch is no less a personality than the Executive Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Mr. Dave Umahi and several legislators of the state assembly are indeed great milestones in our restoration process.”
While expressing concern over the lack of credible membership register in all the 36 states and Abuja, Bunu said some members who left the party in 2018 and joined the opposition party, still have their names in the party register, while many others who joined the party from 2014 to date do not have their names in the register.
According to him, it is now imperative for the party to revalidate its membership register, expunge names of those who had left the party, and include those who have joined the party from 2014 to date in compliance with Article 9:4 of the party Constitution.
“Similarly, the annual membership dues payment, which has almost been totally neglected overtime is a clear violation of Article 9:1(I) of the Party Constitution. The committee, therefore, finds the membership revalidation exercise as necessary to capture all members to promote internal democracy in the party.
“I am glad to inform you that preliminary plans had been concluded for the commencement of the first phase of the exercise in the next few weeks with the expectation to cover members both within the country and those in diaspora,” he added.
Buni also stated that the party was planning to amend its constitution so it could be ready for presentation to NEC for approval before the expiration of the committee’s tenure “which is quite necessary for the growth and development of the party.”
Reacting to Buni’s claim, the PDP described the APC as an unfocused political party, which only unfocused politicians will join.
It described the APC as a sinking political party that cannot manage a victory.
The National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, said there was no attraction in a sinking political party like the APC.
“Only politicians that are not focused will be joining a party like the APC. The APC has brought ruins to Nigerians. Look at what the APC administration has brought to Nigerians. Everybody is now suffering because of unfocused and disorganised politics the party has brought to Nigerians,” he stated.
The PDP also told Abbo to be ready to lose his seat at the Senate as the constitution is clear on such defection.
With Abbo’s defection, PDP now has 42 senators; APC 60 and Young Peoples Party (YPP) has one. But six seats are vacant and are to be filled through by-elections to be conducted by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), on December 5, 2020.
Abbo had sent his letter of defection to the President of the Senate, Dr. Ahmad Lawan, who read it at plenary yesterday.
In his letter, he described President Muhammadu Buhari as the best president since 1999 to pay attention to the welfare of the citizenry.
“Thus, in living up to the expectation of the good people of Adamawa North Senatorial District, I hereby defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) with effect from today being Wednesday, the 25th day of November 2020,” he said.
Reacting, Ologbondiyan said: “He (Abbo) is fully aware of the constitutional implication of his decision to defect to another party; which is that he cannot continue to occupy the seat of the PDP in the Senate.
“The place of any senator who changed parties except on the ground provided by the constitution is very clear and the PDP will not allow Senator Abbo to run away with our mandate. It is impossible.”