By Emman Ovuakporie
IN a bid to grab the leadership of the House of Representatives, chieftains of the All Progressives Congress, APC, and the defected PDP members are in a move to woo the Deputy Speaker, Hon Emeka Ihedioha, and other principal officers of the House.
Sunday Vanguard reliably gathered that the move became necessary after the defection of 37 members of the ruling party.
Ihedioha is seen as a die-hard PDP member and may not want to dump his well rumoured gubernatorial ambition.
But our source countered this saying “our party chieftains will soon meet with him and advise him to allow the present Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha to complete his two terms. “
The source added: “Then he can conveniently got the governorship position in 2020 and run under our platform, the APC.
”Once this has been achieved, we can change guards in the present leadership structure in the House. “
He explained further that “by so doing, the 7th Assembly will maintain the unity and cohesion it has enjoyed since inception. “
The APC needs just nine members to take charge in the House following last Wednesday’s defection of 37 PDP members to the opposition party. This resulted in the increase of the number of APC members from 138 to 172.
PDP that had a comfortable controlling majority with 208 members had the figure slashed to 171.
APC needs a simple majority of 181 members to displace PDP and take over the leadership of the House.
Labour Party, All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) and Accord Party have some members in the chambers.
While Labour has eight members, APGA has five and Accord four .
The PDP too is not resting on its oars as their leader, the Deputy Majority Leader, Hon Leo Ogor, has been running from pillar to post.
According to Ogor,” the load is heavy but I’m equal to the task and PDP will bounce back stronger than before”.
He went on: “All the noise they are making is a mere storm in a tea cup; we are ready for any showdown.“
Also, Hon Kaka Kyari Gujbawu(PDP, Maiduguri Federal Constituency believed that all the defecting members would come back.
Gujbawu explained that the PDP caucus in the House was moving fast to halt a further drift .
He said: “What has happened in the House is disturbing. We know that we are faced with a huge challenge and we are working to stop further assault”.
Those who would be worst hit are some principal officers . The Speaker, Hon Aminu Tambuwal, is unlikely to be affected no matter the side the pendulum swings because both PDP and APC members are comfortable with him. But such cannot be said of his deputy, Ihedioha, and the Majority Leader, Hom Mulikat Adeola -Akande. Perhaps what will save Ihedioha is his cordial relationship with Tambuwal and the moves to woo him into APC. The Wednesday defection was marked by an interesting drama.
The drama started soon after the lawmakers commenced the business of the day. The first shocker was an executive session which lasted less than 10 minutes, making it one of the shortest closed door sessions in the history of the 7th Assembly.
Immediately on resumption to the plenary from the closed door session at about 11.56am, Tambuwal announced that the House had adopted the report of the joint committee on harmonisation of the crude oil benchmark and the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).
He said, “In our closed door session this morning we discussed the MTEF and the benchmark for the sale of crude oil and adopted $77.5 for the 2014 Budget estimates.”
But the shocker came when the Speaker announced that he had received a communication from a group of 37 members of the PDP announcing their defection to APC. The announcement caused a stir in the chamber.
APC legislators gave a ricocheting applause to the announcement.
In the letter read to the House by Tambuwal, the lawmakers claimed they decided to leave the PDP because of the division in the party.
PDP members immediately shouted ‘no!no!’ The Speaker continued after the noise subsided.
Reading from the letter, he said, “Our 37 colleagues elected under the platform of PDP have decided to join APC as a result of the problems in our party and we have merged with APC according to Section 68 of our 1999 constitution. “
He had barely finished when Hon Kingsley Chinda (PDP,Rivers) raised a point of order, citing Order 9 Rule 57 of the House rules . He reminded the House that there was a judicial matter still pending in
court over defection of PDP members to APC.
APC members and the defecting lawmakers interjected and shouted him down.
The Speaker however responded to Chinda’s observation and promised to look into the point of order. He said ,
“I’ve listened to you attentively and I’ve taken note. “
Tambuwal’s response was hailed by APC lawmakers.
The Speaker quickly announced the names of all those that defected. This led to another round of joyful noise by the APC members.
Each member as his name was called received a loud ovation from the vociferous APC lawmakers . They later filed out to have a handshake with the Speaker.
However, Tambuwal raised the point of order raised by Chinda and explained that he was aware of a court ruling barring him and the Senate President on the matter in question. He pleaded with the House
to allow him seek legal opinion on the ruling and report back to the House.
The new APC legislators include Hons Abdulahi Balarabe (Sokoto), Abudulmumin Jibrin (Kano), Ali Ahmad (PDP, Kwara), Abudulahi Wamako (Sokoto), Aliyu Pategi (Kwara), Ahmed Zerewa, Aishatu Ahmed (Adamawa), Aiyedun Olayinka (Kwara), Alhassan Garba (Kano), Aliyu Madaki (Kano), Aliyu Shehu (Sokoto) and Aminu Shagari (Sokoto).
Others are Aminu Suleiman (Kano), Aminu Tukur (Adamawa), Andrew Uchendu (Rivers), Asita Honourable (Rivers), Bashir Babale (Kano), Blessing Usiegbe (Rivers), Dakuku Peterside (Rivers), Dawari George (Rivers), Gibson Nathaniel (Adamawa), Gogo Bright Tamuno (Rivers), Isa Bashir (Sokoto), Kabiru Achida (Sokoto), and Maurice Pronen (Rivers).
Also in the group are Sabo Mohammed, Mpigi Barinada (Rivers), Mukhtari Muhammad, Musa Ado (Kano), Musa Sarkin-Adar (Sokoto), Mustapha Dawaki (Kano), Mustapha Mashood (Kwara), Ogbonna Nwuke (Rivers), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara), Sa’ad Nabunkari (Sokoto), Sani Aliyu (Kano), Shuaibu Gobir (Sokoto), Sokonte Davies (Rivers), Umar Bature (Sokoto), Yusuph Dunari Sule (Jigawa), and Zakari Mohammed (Kwara).
With 172 members, the APC has a slim majority and will need nine members to reach a simple majority of 181 to enable the party elect the leadership of the House.
APC members are hopeful that their brothers in the Labour Party can easily be poached to have a clear majority in the House. PDP on the other hand has lost sleep as Ogor and the remnant PDP members are prepared to fight back like wounded lions.