In a bold PDP strategic move, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has declared its intention to seek fresh elections for the 27 members of the Rivers State House of Assembly who defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC). The defection, marking a significant political shift, has raised questions about the stability of the party in the region.
The PDP’s Strategic Move
The mass defection announced during the session presided over by Speaker Martin Amaewhule, was attributed to internal divisions within the party, specifically related to the contentious position of the National Secretary of the PDP’s. Letters addressed to the Speaker cited communication breakdowns amid the ongoing struggle for party leadership.
The roots of this crisis trace back to the 2023 governorship election preparations, where the then-governor Nyesom Wike reportedly caused discord by endorsing Siminalayi Fubara as the gubernatorial aspirant, despite Fubara’s background as the state’s Accountant General. This move led to dissent among party leaders, who questioned Fubara’s political alignment and commitment to the party’s cause.
Tensions escalated when lawmakers loyal to Wike attempted to impeach the incumbent governor, resulting in a divided House and even a fire incident in part of the state Assembly. The aftermath saw a split between Speaker Amaewhule’s faction and House Leader Edison Ehie’s faction.
Responding to the defection, the PDP’s National Publicity Secretary, Debo Ologunagba, affirmed the party’s commitment to reclaiming the vacated seats. He stated, “We will write to INEC tomorrow (Tuesday) to make our position known,” emphasizing the party’s adherence to legal processes.
Ologunagba invoked Section 109 (1)(g) of the 1999 Constitution, arguing that the defected members had automatically vacated their seats. The PDP spokesperson expressed confidence in the party’s ability to navigate the situation within the bounds of the law.
Meanwhile, Governor Fubara, during a state executive council meeting, remained silent on the defection, focusing on the approval of the N800 billion budget estimate for 2024. The legislative session, where the defection occurred, was conducted under heightened security, underscoring the sensitivity of the political climate.
Amid these developments, the Rivers State Civil Society Groups warned Commissioner of Police Olatunji Disu against taking sides, urging a neutral stance to prevent exacerbating the political crisis.
On the other side, the APC celebrated the influx of defected lawmakers, attributing it to the open-door policy of the National Chairman, Dr. Abdullahi Ganduje. Bala Ibrahim, the APC National Director of Publicity, expressed optimism that the defection marked a positive turn for the party, aligning with Ganduje’s vision of inclusivity.
As the political landscape in Rivers State undergoes seismic shifts, all eyes are on the unfolding developments, including the PDP’s pursuit of fresh elections, the APC’s embrace of new members, and the delicate balance of power in the state assembly. The ramifications of these events may reverberate in the upcoming political climate, making them a focal point for political enthusiasts and observers alike.