If the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) were to be a ship, it is taking in water and crew are jumping ship.
In the past 6 months, the Party lost three sitting governors to the ruling party; Ben Ayade, Dave Umahi and the latest being Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State. This week, the party lost two members of the House of Representatives and four senators.
On Wednesday, Senators Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North); Lawali Hassan Anka (Zamfara West); and Peter Nwaoboshi (Delta North) all dumped the party.
As it stands, the party has one governor each in Northwest, North Central and Southwest. In Northeast and Southeast, the party has two governors per state and five in South South.
Yet, this may not be the end of the crisis as the party is at risk of not having a candidate in Anambra State for the November 6 election.
Using the statement by Kassim Afegbua, a known critic of the PDP Chairman, Uche Secondus, as a yardstick, more governors will soon be decamping.
Afegbua had said in the statement released last week that, “As I write this, another PDP Governor from the South-East is also warming up to defect. Also, another PDP Governor from the North-East is warming up to defect if the right leadership is not put in place to halt this drift.”
Lawmakers taking hit but keeping mum
The number of the PDP continues to deplete in the National Assembly. However, most are not willing to speak out.
On Tuesday, a member of the House from the South-South who spoke with DAILY POST on condition of anonymity, expressed hopelessness on the fortune of the party.
He spoke to this reporter after the two defections in the House on Tuesday.
“You can see the level of helplessness in the House. Everyday, we are losing members. Toby (Toby Okechukwu the deputy minority leader) can only raise a point of order but has anything come out of the order? Most lawmakers here depend on their Governors. If their governors move, they will move,” he said.
Adding, “those two that moved (Michael Etaba and Lego Idagbo), they moved because Ayade (Ben Ayade, Governor of Cross River) moved. Most members are not going to speak up, but everyone is concerned.”
Talking tough on Zamfara
On Monday, the PDP, through its spokesperson, Kola Ologbondiyan, had said Metawale and others cannot decamp with the party’s mandate.
Ologbondiyan said the mandate was given to the party, not Matawalle.
It would be recalled that the Governor of Zamfara State emerged after a court pronouncement that disqualified APC.
“No law allows him to cross over to any other party with the governorship mandate statutorily given to the PDP through the ballot box.
“The PDP categorically cautions Matawalle to know that his plans amount to a decision to vacate office as no law allows him to cross over to any other party with the governorship mandate statutorily given to the PDP through the ballot box, as already established by the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the standing judgment of the Supreme Court,” he said.
Despite the warning, the governor decamped on Wednesday in Gusua, Zamfara Stats.
When Daily Post called Mr Ologbodiyan to react to the decamping, he did not pick his call.
A legal practitioner, Henry Kelechukwu, said the argument by the PDP spokesman is inconsistent with the Constitution.
He noted that the constitution has outlined conditions for the removal of a governor, defection is not one of them.
“The party is arguing section 221 of the 1999 Constitution, which is that only a political party can sponsor a candidate for election. Declaring seats vacant can only affect legislators, not a governor.
“That argument is flawed, we have had instances where governors decamped and no one has lost his seat on the bases that he decamped. The constitution has made it clear the conditions that a governor can lose his seat; decamping is not one of them. He is not a governor of PDP but the governor of Zamfara State.
“Since he is now a governor, the grounds that he can be removed from office are the one listed in the constitution.”
He added that the party can, however, approach the court for interpretation of the judgement.
Interestingly enough, Mehdi Aliyu, the deputy governor has refused to decamp, perhaps he will be the beneficiary of the pronouncement by the court.