Speaker Tambuwal to Formally Defect to APC on Tuesday
The All Progressives Congress (APC) is set to officially take over the leadership of the House of Representatives this week with the planned defection of the Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, and some lawmakers to the party.
A source at the weekend that barring any last minute changes, Tambuwal might defect from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to APC tomorrow when the House reconvenes from the yuletide holiday.
He said plans had been concluded for his defection along with other PDP lawmakers to the opposition party.
It was gathered that while plans were being made for Tambuwal’s defection, it was however not certain how many lawmakers would defect with him to APC.
In the wake of the defection of five PDP governors to the opposition party, 37 lawmakers have crossed over to APC to give it a slim majority in the House, notching up its numerical strength in the House to 174 lawmakers with that of PDP dropping to 172.
Should Tambuwal defect to APC as being planned, PDP would lose its leadership of the lower chamber of the National Assembly and this will make the opposition party to be in control of the lower chamber.
It will also be the first time, since the rebirth of democracy in the country in 1999, that an opposition party will be in control of a critical chamber of the legislative arm of government.
The speaker has traditionally been produced by the ruling party, which is the PDP and if Tambuwal moves, as being planned, it will be the first time the House speaker, who is the number four citizen of the country by virtue of his position, will be defecting to another party.
Going by Tambuwal’s body language since he became speaker, he has felt more comfortable with the opposition, especially the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), one of the constituent parties that formed APC, which helped him to clinch the speakership after he and some lawmakers rebelled against the party’s zoning arrangement.
Under the PDP zoning arrangement, the speakership was zoned to the South-west, but with support from ACN, which is the ruling party in the geopolitical zone, ACN lawmakers teamed up with renegade PDP lawmakers to elect Tambuwal, who trounced PDP’s anointed candidate for the post, Hon. Mulikat Akande-Adeola, to emerge the speaker.
Since then, Tambuwal has fraternised more with the opposition party than PDP.
Only recently, while responding to PDP’s pleas to stop the party lawmakers from defecting to APC, he replied that he would not stop any lawmaker who wants to defect from doing so.
He also ignored his party’s directive to declare vacant the seats of the 37 lawmakers who had crossed over to APC.
On the speaker’s planned defection, a source said: ‘‘By Tuesday, the speaker will be gone from PDP. Arrangements have been concluded and he is leaving along with others to achieve a comfortable majority for the opposition APC. He has been consulting and now that he has finished consulting, he feels the time is now to make the move.
“Moreover, the opposition leaders have been putting pressure on him to cross over. The timing is especially urgent to frustrate the reconciliation efforts promised by the president following Tukur’s resignation on Thursday.’’
On what the speaker stands to gain from the opposition since PDP had already promised him the governorship ticket in Sokoto for the 2015 election, which he has rejected, the source added: ‘‘He has a better offer from the APC.’’
Another lawmaker not excited by the speaker’s expected defection warned that it would amount to an unprecedented betrayal for him to dump the party that gave him the platform to rise to prominence even when he rebelled against it.
He said: “Why is he so desirous of handing the leadership of the house to APC? Is it just because he is hell bent on destroying the PDP for his own selfish interest.”
The lawmaker, who craved for anonymity, accused the speaker of actively encouraging other lawmakers to defect to APC.
‘‘We are aware he has been actively wooing his party members with juicy offers of House positions to defect to the opposition APC to pave the way for his own defection. This is the worst form of betrayal anyone can dish out to his party. His heart and soul for long have been with the opposition. It was only his physical frame that was with us, now he wants to unite them into one. What kind of speaker does that to his party? All the while, he appears to have been a mole in PDP. Maybe it is now time for him to reveal himself and stop the pretence. I am deeply disgusted,’’ he said.
Another lawmaker, who claimed ignorance of Tambuwal’s defection bid, however advised the speaker not to defect ‘‘because PDP is still the party to beat.”
He added: “I think his political future is safer with PDP than with APC. No matter the problems we are facing now, the party will resolve them and come out stronger. What is the guarantee that APC won’t have problems? As a matter of fact, it is already having problems, especially in states where PDP governors defected to join APC. Look at Sokoto, Kano,
Adamawa and even in Ogun State, there was a serious shooting and many people were injured because of an internal crisis.
“I hope APC won’t claim it is the snipers in Obasanjo’s letter that are already at work. So defection is wrong.’’
He stated further that ‘‘if it is true the speaker is set to defect, it will forever haunt him because nobody will ever trust him in Nigeria again. I think he is too smart not to see the danger to future political career because of immediate political gains.’’
But the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Chief Olisa Metuh, stated that the party was unaware of Tambuwal’s defection plan.
“We are totally unaware of that and I doubt it. I think it is a rumour. He was with us at NEC last week and he was very relaxed and exchanged banter with everybody, including the president. So I don’t think he will do that. Don’t forget, he is a leader of the party and the party holds him in high esteem. The party has been good to him, so I don’t think he will do that. We are even expecting him at the NEC meeting tomorrow (Monday),” he said.
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