The embattled 27 Rivers State lawmakers have said that their defection from the Peoples Democratic Party to the All Progressives Congress was tied to President Bola Tinubu’s ‘Renewed Hope Agenda.’
According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the factional Speaker, Martins Amaewhule, who led the defection, gave the reason at a “Thanksgiving and stakeholders’ meeting” of the APC on Sunday in Port Harcourt.
Amaewhule said that their defection was in line with section 109 of the 1999 Constitution “to make sure that we followed due process.’’
He said, “We made sure we did not do anything outside the 1999 Constitution. The constitution has given room for people to defect, that’s why section 109 (1g) allows serving legislators, who want to defect to do so with a proviso that there is a division in the party.
“There is clearly a division in the PDP, so in line with this section we defected to the APC.’’
He also said that the position of the constitution gave the speaker of the house the right to give effect to Section 109 (1) and by virtue of the provision of the constitution, members have the right and must exercise it because of the division in the party.
According to him, the 27 members have all the particulars and evidence as referred to in the Constitution, concerning a division in the PDP.
He said that the particulars and evidence that necessitated their defection to the APC had been recorded in their files and sent to the house.
Amaewhule said that they took the decision after Tinubu assured the leadership of the Rivers APC that attention would be given to federal infrastructure in the state.
“We analysed the President’s quick start of his assurance when he started with the reconstruction of the Port Harcourt-Onne East West Road. In no time, the road will become accessible to Port Harcourt Refinery, Onne Seaport, Indorama Eleme Fertilizer and Chemist Limited and a smooth ride to all the local governments connected to these areas,” he said.
Amaewhule also cited the consistent federal appointments to Rivers people by Mr Tinubu notwithstanding their parties as their other reason for defecting to the APC.
He said that Tinubu’s renewed hope agenda would expand the country’s economy; hence they decided to dump the PDP and support the president to achieve the agenda.
He accused PDP of not condemning the demolition of the assembly complex and regretted the alleged non-release of funding to the assembly by Governor Siminialayi Fubara.
He said that the non-release of funds to the house was against the law.
In his remarks, the National Chairman of the APC, Dr Abudulahi Ganduje, said that the President and the National Working Committee of the party recognised that the lawmakers had become APC members and respect their decision to join the party to move the country forward.
Mr Ganduje, represented by the party’s National Legal Adviser, Prof. Abdulkarim Kana, said that Mr Amaewhule, his deputy and other PDP decampees were formally invited to join the APC.
He assured them that the party’s NWC had taken a decision to resolve the political crisis in Rivers State and unite the members and ensure that the APC becomes one in the state.
He further said that the NWC had given to the state Caretaker Committee Chairman, Tony Okocha, the responsibility to start the reconciliation process and carry every member along.
He urged the aggrieved members not to go to court but to bring their complaints to the national secretary through the state chairman.
He assured the members that they would not lose their positions and that those that lost theirs would get better positions as long as they remained in the party.
In a speech, Mr Okocha said that the essence of the stakeholders’ meeting was to forge ahead for greater achievements by the party.
“We will not pull over the anger of what has happened. We are here to plan for the future, which is the essence of this meeting,’’ he stated.
Mr Okocha said that the party under his watch would be built on a robust and solid foundation, strong in every unit and ward.
He assured the lawmakers that the party would strongly support them in their activities.