Mass defection of political officeholders across the major political parties in Nigeria appears imminent in the House of Representatives ahead of the 2023 general election, Vanguard has learnt.
The defection is a mad rush for politicians who are realigning and repositioning themselves for more political victories.
It will be recalled that the twilight of 2020 legislative year in the national assembly witnessed a gale of defections with many of the main opposition lawmakers from the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, leaving to join the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC.
On December 15, 2020, two members of the House, Hon. Datti Yako from Kano State and Danjuma Shittu from Taraba State exited their respective parties for APC.
While Yako left the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Shittu left the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA).
Their defection letters read by the Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila cited leadership crises in their respective states as reasons for ditching the parties upon which they were elected.
Similarly, on December 17, 2020, Hon. Sam Onuigbu, a two-term member representing Ikwuano/Umuahia Federal Constituency of Abia State in the House also dumped PDP for APC.
The lawmakers’ departures, however, drew the ire of the minority leadership which demanded that their seats be declared vacant.
But the speaker, Femi Gbajabiamila declined, saying it was the responsibility of the courts.
He recalled past defections which benefited the PDP as a former ruling party.
Of particular mention were those of the former Senate President, Bukola Saraki and former Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
“Some years ago, the Senate President and the Speaker of the House decamped to the PDP. Did you ask for their seats to be declared vacant? Now, that former Speaker has left the PDP and rejoined the APC. Are you saying I should declare his seat vacant?
“Is it me or you or the court that should interpret the constitution? I am not the court”, Gbajabiamila said, hitting the gavel in acceptance to the defections of Onuigbu.
Vanguard’s investigation weekend, however, indicated that more defections loom within.
The paper could authoritatively inform that the APC would welcome two more lawmakers from Abia in the coming weeks.
A source from the State who is also a federal lawmaker told Vanguard that though it’s a personal decision, two lawmakers will soon join APC.
“You know it is a personal decision. But what I know is that two PDP lawmakers will soon join APC”, he said.
It was further learnt that what is principally necessitating the exit of the lawmakers is their little of no chance with the PDP to secure a returning ticket having served two terms on the platforms.
When contacted to speak on the matter, the leader of the PDP caucus in the House, Hon. Kingsley Chinda from Rivers State asked members to wary about their willful exits from the political parties that elected them into the House when there is no division or crisis.
Chinda warned that someday, the legal provisions on defection may apply to their legislative seats in the National Assembly.
“On the issue of defection, my position is that members are free to take political decisions particularly when it comes to the party you want to associate with but while doing that, they must also be conscious of the provisions of the law, that’s the legal implication.
“Where you choose to leave a party on whose platform you were elected for another political party and there is no division in your party, I think that the honourable thing to do is to, on your own, forgo the seat and allow INEC to conduct a fresh election to fill that position. If you do wish to come back, you can still contest under your new party.
“It is because we lack respect for our laws that is why we are having problems and challenges in our society. So, we cannot in one breath be talking about the rule of law and in another breath neglect the rule of law.
“Yes as members of a various political party, if anybody leaves APC for PDP, I will feel happy and commend him but even at that, it doesn’t in any way erase the legal implications of such movements.
“So, I will advise that while you are free to leave, let us be conscious of the provisions of the law and let us be honourable enough to allow the law to take its full course.
“I pray to see one member who one day will announce his defection and at the same also succumb to the provisions of the law and also ask that his seat be declared vacant for him to go back to the polls under his new party if he wants to come back to the Parliament”, Chinda said.
Vanguard News Nigeria