Teddy Oscar, Abuja
Despite the mass defection of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) members of the House of Representatives to the All Progressive Congress (APC), the House on Thursday unanimously declared support for its speaker, Rt. Hon. Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, and other PDP principle members of the House.
The ruling party, on Wednesday, December 18, 2013, had its strength reduced in the House from 208 members to 171, after 37 of its members defected to APC.
As a result, membership of APC has swelled from 137 to 174, overtaking PDP by three members in the House.
Following the change in the Green Chambers of the National Assembly, there have been speculations that the House, on return from its Christmas and New Year holiday next week, would move to change its leadership.
It is understood that pressure would be on Tambuwal and other PDP members of the leadership of the House to defect, or risk their leadership positions.
But chairman of the House Committee on Rules and Business, Hon. Albert Tanimu Sam-Tsokwa, who allayed such fears, assured that the leadership of the House is still intact.
Sam-Tsokwa, who hinted that the leadership of the House is still enjoying the conference of the members, observed that the presiding officers of the House emerged through their individual popularity, as well as the popular votes of members.
“Like open letters, we are also into a season of defections and rumours of defections from one party to the other party. Cross carpeting, as it is commonly known, is neither a new phrase in democratic party lexicon nor a new phenomenon in Nigeria since 1999.
“We are indeed aware that it is on record that the ruling has benefitted from defection or cross carpeting of not fewer than four governors and numerous legislators to it since 1999.
“It is time, therefore, to advice that we stop overheating the polity by not unnecessarily fuelling the imaginery members of defection-linked political crises.
“Nigerians ought and indeed deserve to know that apart from the 1999, there is no legislation in Nigeria against cross carpeting and defection.
“Indeed, the constitution subtly endorses cross carpeting or defection for which, see sections 68(1)(g), 109(1)(g), 135 and 180 of the 1999 Constitution.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the leadership of the House of Representatives, as is embodied in the presiding officers, emerged from the popularity of the candidates on one hand and the popular votes of the members on the other, and not strictly on party lineage.
“Therefore, defection or no defection, the leadership of the House of Representatives remains intact, having enjoyed and is still enjoying the confidence of the members,” he said.