In a high political drama on Tuesday, 14 Senators and 37 members of the Federal House of Representatives unexpectedly decamped from the ruling Alliance for Progressive Congress (APC) to two opposition parties.
In the Senate, 13 of the decampees pitched their tent with the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and one moved to the African Democratic Congress (ADC).
In the 109-member upper chamber, the PDP now has 58 senators and the APC 48, with two other opposition parties holding the remaining seats while two members who died recently have not been replaced. However, the APC has disputed that it has lost its majority, claiming some members who are still with the PDP were now loyal to it. It’s been confusion galore characteristic of Nigerian politics where people go back and forth between parties.
The APC however still holds firmly to its majority in the lower house, 186 members, out of a total of 360. Thirty-two of the lawmakers defected to the PDP, while four members went to the ADC. The 37th decampee simply announced his resignation from the APC but kept mum over his next destination.
The unexpected development is the culmination of a running battle between the government of President Muhammadu Buhari and the 2-chamber national parliament, on the one hand, and the rift in the APC from which a splinter group recently left to work with the PDP, on the other.
Buhari has reacted confidently to the defections, saying said it would not impact negatively on the party’s fortunes at the forthcoming general election, due in February 2019. In a statement issued by his spokesman, the president urged members of the APC not to despair over the development which he described as a “seasonal occurrence.”
The PDP, welcoming the defectors to its fold, said they would be joint heirs in their new abode. Speaking to the press in Abuja on Tuesday, the national chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, called the defectors courageous men and women.
The new power relations in the national parliament mean that the federal government may find it more difficult to pass its legislations. Analysts are however divided on how the defections will affect the fortunes of the APC and the PDP at next year’s elections.