The House of Representatives on Wednesday went into a rowdy session when two members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) – Hon. Tony Nwoye (Anambra) and Hon. Udende Emmanuel (Benue) – defected to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
In two separate letters announcing their defection read by the speaker, Yakubu Dogara, both men cited what they said were factions in the PDP.
They noted that the PDP has been divided into three factions headed by Prof. Jerry Gana, Senator Ahmed Makarfi and Senator Ali Modu Sheriff.
Nwoye and Emmanuel’s letters stated that they do not wish to belong to any of the factions.
The announcement was welcomed by APC members who chanted the party slogan, “change, change, change” for several minutes before calm was restored.
However, Minority Leader, Hon. Leo Ogor, raised a point of order insisting that there was no faction in the PDP.
But his point of order was overruled by Dogara who said there was no need to debate the matter on the floor of the House, as such should be handled by the affected party.
It was however gathered that both men might have defected for personal reasons.
Nwoye is reportedly gearing up to contest the governorship election in Anambra State and is uncertain of the ticket of the PDP since he is not in good terms with the powers that be in the party.
Speaking to newsmen, Ogor expressed disappointment in the two members.
He insisted that there was no basis for their defection as there is no faction in the PDP, adding that no court had ruled otherwise.
“The Supreme Court ruling says for there to be a faction, some members of the executive of the party have to be a part of the faction. The convention took a decision of setting up an ad hoc committee to organise elections in three months,” he said.
He said he would approach the party first thing today with the votes and proceedings of the House.
“We would head to court to make sure they vacate those seats, then we go for bye-election to replace those interlopers. They think they can go to APC so easily, but they are wrong. So as long as we have a Supreme Court ruling on this matter, they are history,” Ogor said.
Ogor admitted that as minority leader, he was taken completely unawares by the defections.
“I am so shocked and highly disappointed. I would have thought they would have discussed this kind of issue with me. They know there is no faction but they are trying to create one.
“They did not do proper consultations on this. These are young men who do not know their right from their left in politics,” he said.
Similarly, the PDP threatened to ensure that Nwoye and Emmanuel lose their seats in the House.
In a statement signed by the Secretary of the Board of Trustees (BoT) of the party, Mr. Ojo Madueke, PDP said there was only one approved National Convention which took place in Port Harcourt on Saturday, May 21, 2016, which it said was in accordance with the PDP constitution.
The statement added that the party “approved some far reaching resolutions that had the unanimous support of those who attended the Port Harcourt convention with subsequent endorsements of another PDP political meeting that took place in Abuja on the same day”.
The statement added that the conveners of the Abuja meeting had since integrated their positions with the structures and resolutions of the Port Harcourt convention.
“Subsequent meetings of first, Board of Trustees members, and secondly, meetings with the PDP Governor’s Forum, leadership of National Assembly and former Ministers in PDP Government Forum, and a PDP Former Governor’s Forum, held and decided to work together,” the party said.
It also added that aggrieved members are being reconciled across the length and breadth of the country.
“The rank and file of the party have resolved to work together and PDP has never been stronger than it is now since its entry into the honourable role of a robust and principled opposition.
“Any suggestion of a faction, is at best ill-informed and ignorant, and at worst, is part of a grand plan to decimate the only political platform today that is ready, experienced and able to honour the nation’s invitation to have a credible opposition party that will hold government of the day accountable and thereby strengthen and nourish our young democracy.
“Let it therefore be understood by those of our members in the National Assembly who may be tempted to jump ship, or have already jumped, that on the basis of clear decisions of cases decided in the Supreme Court, they stand the risk of losing their seats in parliament if they go ahead with their latest indulgence,” PDP said.
The party added that it would insist on a declaration of vacancy and subsequent elections in the affected constituencies in the event of such “misguided defections”.
“The pattern of PDP electoral victories all over the federation since the 2015 general election shows that where there are elections arising from such vacancies, PDP will return a more credible and more loyal representative of the people,” the statement said.