The long-awaited defection by the House of Representatives speaker to the All Progressives Congress is going to happen today, his associates told Daily Trust last night.
Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal will announce to colleagues during today’s House plenary session that he is leaving the ruling People’s Democratic Party to the main opposition APC, following months of consultation, one of the sources said.
Daily Trust Turaki A. Hassan & Ibrahim Kabiru Sule report that Tambuwal is going to stay put as speaker, despite him joining a minority party.
If this comes to pass, he will be the first speaker from a minority party and the first non-PDP politician to hold that position since the inception of this dispensation in 1999.
Tambuwal will also emerge as the highest-ranking public officer in APC, based on the National Order of Precedence.
“(The) speaker will formally defect to the APC during the plenary session,” an aide told Daily Trust, asking not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
DailyTrust correspondents learnt that after announcing his defection today, Tambuwal will immediately adjourn the House till after the conclusion of party primaries in December.
This is to stave off any possible moves to remove him by PDP lawmakers, who have a majority with 189 members to APC’s 159. The remaining 12 lawmakers are from other smaller parties.
Tambuwal enjoys support from many PDP members who had themselves toyed with the idea of joining APC since a mass defection hit the House late last year.
“There is no constitutional provision that says he must vacate his seat as speaker after defecting from one political party to another,” an aide told Daily Trust.
“Neither the constitution nor the House rules stops him from retaining his seat as speaker if he defects to another political party,” he added.
Another associate said Tambuwal will explain to colleagues today that his defection is because of the crisis and division in the Sokoto State chapter of the PDP.
“You know there is crisis and division in the Sokoto State PDP which necessitated the reconciliatory meeting held by Chief Tony Anenih last week. There are the old and the new PDP,” the source said.
Our correspondents report that Tambuwal will have to link his defection to a division in the PDP because the constitution requires a legislator who defects to leave his seat unless if the defection is caused by division in his former party.
The speaker’s defection has been long in coming, as he had been romancing with the APC since its formation last year.
He also kept a distance from major PDP outings, including zonal rallies organised for President Goodluck Jonathan.
Associates say he delayed his defection because of likely repercussions that may cost him his seat.
Late last year, the APC had snaffled the majority in the House from the PDP with a slight margin. But before Tambuwal could make his move, that majority was lost back to the PDP through some cross-defections. The speaker had to stay action.
But he continued to hobnob with APC leaders, especially Sokoto State Governor Aliyu Wamakko and Chief Bola Tinubu.
Last week, Tambuwal edged closer to joining the APC when he attended a stakeholders meeting of the party in Sokoto during which the state governorship seat was zoned to the southern zone where he hails from.
On Friday, the APC national executive cleared the biggest internal hurdle for Tambuwal—the requirement for defectors to spend at least 30 days in the party before contesting in primaries. The party’s national convention is due to ratify this decision tomorrow.
The APC primaries for the 2015 elections have all been scheduled to hold within the next 35 days.
Tambuwal is believed to be aiming for the Sokoto governorship seat in the event the APC presidential ticket eludes him.
When contacted yesterday on Tambuwal’s planned defection, spokesman Imam Imam said: “Nigerians need not to get worked up over the speaker’s political future. Sooner rather than later, the outcome of the consultation will be made public.”