By Wahab Akanji, Abuja
The plenary of the upper legislative chambers, the Senate became rowdy on Thursday following the defection of the member representing Akwa Ibom South, Senator Nelson Effiong, from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to All Progressives Congress (APC).
Effiong who announced his defection from the PDP to the ruling APC blamed what he called the intractable crisis in the PDP as the reason for his action.
The Akwa Ibom lawmaker noted that no reasonable politician worth his onions should remain in the PDP.
He added that APC as a party has brought stability to Nigeria and also restored peace to some troubled parts of the country.
“I have decided that no reasonable politician who is worth his onions would remain in PDP and allow his people to be drifting about without a direction. So I have decided today (yesterday), the 19th day of January, 2017, to resign from the PDP and move to the party that is bringing peace and direction to this country.”
Hardly had the defector sat down than the Deputy Minority Leader of the Senate, Senator Emmanuel Bwacha, took him on about his choice of words.
Bwacha said that he had no issue if Effiong decided to jump ship ‘but it is insulting for him to describe those in the PDP as unreasonable.”
He added that those who elected to follow the weather in their political career were free to do so.
Such politicians, he said, should not turn round to insult others.
The Taraba South lawmaker warned Effiong about the consequences of his action.
Bwacha said: “I hope that my colleague is aware of the implications of what he has just done. The PDP as a party is one and is intact. I fear for his seat and the consequences that may follow as a result of this action. I want to say that what he has said appears to be an insult to those of us who are in the PDP that ‘a politician that is worth his onions will not remain in PDP’.
“That is an insult. If you want to do the usual business in the Nigerian politics of following the weather, he should say it clearly. This business of moving here and there following the weather should be stated clearly and let him not deviate from the original intentions he has. We are going to meet in court.”
The Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio who walked into the chamber after the defection, told the Senate that the PDP in Akwa Ibom State will challenge the defection in court and reclaim its mandate.
Akpabio noted as an individual, Senator Effiong has the right to jump ship, but not to the detriment of the party under whose platform he rode to get to the Senate.
Akpabio said: “I understand maybe due to political intoxication or otherwise, the Senator has jumped ship and moved from this side to the other side. I need to let the Senate and the president know that in terms of the court decisions up to the Supreme Court, that it is not an individual that contests an election.
“It is a political party and therefore the moment somebody takes the mandate of a political party, it behooves on that political party to immediately take steps. We heard that this action is going to take place and we engaged the Senator in various discussions and we showed him the implication.
“I want it to be noted in this Senate that the PDP in Akwa Ibom State is already on its way to court and we would want to reclaim its mandate. We must reclaim the mandate given to us and we do not mind the Senator joining the APC, but he will not go with the mandate given to us in Akwa Ibom State. The reason why I am standing is that today, it is the PDP, tomorrow it might be APC.”
Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, fearing escalation of the issue, did not allow further debate of the defection.
Some Senators were seen arguing on top of their voices against and for the defection.
The way and manner the defection of Senator Yele Omogunwa representing Ondo South from PDP to APC was handled forced PDP senators to walk out of the chamber last month.
It was apparent that Saraki did not want the walk of the opposition senators to reoccur.