…opposition closes ranks to fi ght ruling party Tukur denies dragging NEC to court
The fortune of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, is set to deem further as the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal is set to formally decamp to the rival All Progressives Congress, APC, in January.
The Speaker’s decision came as a shock to the leadership of the PDP, who earlier in December had extracted commitment from the House leaders that member’s defection will no longer be tenable.
This is as PDP’s National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur denied that he was filing a legal action to prevent the National Executive Council, NEC, of the party from removing him.
Our correspondent gathered that the Sokoto State chapter of the APC has mandated its Tambuwal Local Government chapter to formally present a membership card to the Speaker who has been asked by the state Governor, Aliyu Wamakko to formally declare his stand.
Tambuwal has been seen as a beautiful bride by both APC and PDP, and has attended meetings with both parties.
It was gathered, however, that Tambuwal would retain his seat as Speaker due to the numerical strength of the opposition party if he decides to decamp.
It will be recalled that the defection of some members of the House of Representatives elected on the platform of the ruling party into APC has brought the number of the federal lawmakers of the opposition party to 172. The PDP presently has 171.
The likely defection of Tambuwal will further alter the equation in favour of APC in the House, with its membership increasing to 173, with PDP coming down to 170.
It was being speculated that other members of the House were also planning to join Tambuwal to pitch tent with APC.
Tambuwal was elected on the platform of the ruling party from Sokoto State.
Already, his colleagues from the state have followed the path of Governor Wammako to decamp.
One of the principal officers of the House, who confided in our correspondent, told National Mirror that Tambuwal had perfected the plans to move into the opposition party.
“The Speaker of the House (Tambuwal) is moving into APC and that movement is sure. The speaker is to formally declare for the opposition party as soon as the House reconvenes from recess.
“But Mr. Speaker is going to retain his seat as he is set to tap the numerical strength of APC in the House to retain his seat. The defection of Mr. Speaker is going to alter the political equation in the House substantially because many other members of the House are likely to join him to move to APC.
“The speaker has made up his minds and he has perfected the strategies with the leaders of APC and he is not likely to go into APC alone as some of his colleagues in the House have also decided to follow him into the opposition party.
“The transition of Mr. Speaker is going to be smooth and his seat is not going to be threatened in any way. The movement of the speaker is going to deal a death blow on the ruling party. Just let us wait for the outcome of the suit challenging the defection of some House members into APC by the leadership of PDP.
“There is going to be exodus of members, including members of the National Assembly, out of PDP, if the court judgement allows defection,” added the federal lawmaker, who craved anonymity,” the source said.
Reacting to the defection plot, Special Adviser on Media to the Speaker, Imam Imam said that those reports remain rumours and as a matter of rules, they have refused to react to speculation.
He said: “The Speaker is in PDP, he remains a PDP member and there is nothing to suggest that he is moving to another party.
“All of those reports remain speculation and like you know as a matter of policy, we do not react to specualtions. The Speaker has not defected.”
In a related development, Tukur, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Prince Oliver Okpara, denied insinuation that he plans to sue the party’s NEC.
The national chairman disassociated himself from such move, describing it as unthinkable and unimaginable.
He wondered how he could initiate such an action against a body he is part of and an organ of the party that has the highest say and policy making body in the party.
His words: “How can somebody destroy his own house? The intended legal action only exists in the minds of the writers of the false story. I am a member of the PDP NEC and I respect the body and the members.”
Meanwhile, the Presidency has said that unprecedented policy decisions were taken and major projects executed for the good of Nigerians in spite of pockets of distractions during the year 2013.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs, Dr Doyin Okupe stated this in a statement issued in Abuja yesterday.
Okupe noted that contrary to impressions being created by the opposition, Nigeria under President Goodluck Jonathan has moved significantly forward in many sectors than it was in 2011.
The Presidential aide said the transformation, which has taken place in the area of transportation, agriculture, power and other critical sectors are the routes which all developed nations had taken before now but which unfortunately had not been taken by Nigeria before now.
Okupe said: “It is an incontrovertible fact that Nigeria under Jonathan has reduced its food imports by about forty percent and increased its local production of rice, cassava, sorghum, cotton and cocoa in percentages ranging from 25 to 56 in the last two years.
“For the first time since independence, the Nigerian agricultural sector is attracting unprecedented Foreign Direct Investment. Over the past 2 years, the sector has attracted $ 4 billion in private sector executed letters of commitment to invest in agricultural value chains, from food crops, to export crops, fisheries and livestock.
“The number of private sector seed companies grew from 10 to 70 within one year. Over $7billion investments from Nigerian businesses have been made to develop new fertilizer manufacturing plants, which will make Nigeria the largest producer and exporter of fertilizers in Africa.
“It is also noteworthy that agricultural lending as a share of total bank lending has risen from two percent to six percent in two years.”
According to him, the major component of the power sector reform, which is the privatisation of the generation and distribution of the sector, was successfully accomplished in 2013, thus putting Nigeria on a sure path of steady power supply in no distant future.
He explained that with the completion of the privatisation process this year, as well as the completion of 10 National Integrated Power Projects, NIPP, Nigeria for the first time, has moved away from vertically integrated state owned and poorly managed electricity industry to a modern private sector-led fully regulated market with the right incentives capable of attracting new investments to kick start the re-industrialisation of the country.
Other major achievements of the Jonathan administration in the outgoing year, according to the Presidency, include the recovery of the Nigerian Stock Exchange, which was made possible by a combination of sound fiscal and monetary policies as well as a transparent conduct of state affairs in a manner which has rekindled investors’ confidence in the Nigerian market.
Okupe said those who always seek to use the security challenges in some parts the country as the only barometer to measure the present administration are not being fair to the President, considering the fact that the war on insurgency and terrorism has never been a quick fix anywhere in the world.
While reminding the public that bombings and killings by insurgents happened in Kano, Kogi, Niger, Yobe, Borno, Sokoto,A damawa and the Federal Capital Territory in 2011 and 2012, the Presidential aide noted that terrorism has been largely contained and restricted to one or two states in 2013.
“Yes, we are not where we hope to be but it will be sheer mischief to insist that we are where we were or as some wickedly say we are worse than we were. Definitely, their position is not based on facts and so should be ignored by Nigerians” Okupe stated
While reiterating the determination of President Jonathan to remain steadfast in his pursuit of accelerated economic growth and stability, peace and development of all parts of Nigeria, Okupe said the Federal Government will consolidate on the growth recorded in the outgoing year by completing all ongoing projects as well as initiating new programmes and projects, especially in sectors that will create jobs and empower Nigerian youths.