The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) whose membership is fast being depleted by the defection of party bigwigs to the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) has launched a bid to keep the House of Representatives Speaker, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, under its umbrella.
The party is dangling before the speaker, a key ally of Sokoto State Governor, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, who is one of the five PDP governors that have defected to APC, the ticket to fly the flag of the ruling party in the 2016 governorship election in the state.
To demonstrate its sincerity, the party Thursday cancelled the planned inauguration of the caretaker committee for the state chapter of the PDP to enable Tambuwal nominate candidates who will protect his interest in the party's affairs in Sokoto.
However, the PDP inaugurated the caretaker committee for Kwara State, another state where the PDP has lost a large number of members, including the Governor, Alhaji Abdulfatah Ahmed, and his predecessor who is now a senator, Dr. Bukola Saraki, to APC.
PDP's bid to discourage Tambuwal from defecting to APC came against the backdrop of the defection of nearly all top political officer holders in Sokoto State, including House members from the state, 27 lawmakers from the state House of Assembly, cabinet members, local government chairmen and councillors who followed Wamakko to APC.
Speculations are rife that the speaker is only bidding his time and may soon join other top politicians from the state in APC.
However, aware of the grave implications of allowing the House speaker to cross carpet, it was learnt Thursday that it had moved to make offers to the speaker to keep him in the party.
Notwithstanding the gale of defections from the ruling party, Senate President David Mark expressed optimism yesterday that this would not lead to the disintegration of PDP as party leaders were taking steps to arrest the situation.
Also, PDP National Chairman, Alhaji Bamanga Tukur, described the defection of the 27 lawmakers from the Sokoto assembly as democracy in action.
It was gathered that the decision to lobby Tambuwal to remain in PDP, which prompted the party to shelve the inauguration of the caretaker committee members for Sokoto State, was reached at a meeting between Jonathan and Akwa Ibom State Governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio.
The meeting between the president and the governor, THISDAY learnt, came on the heels of Tambuwal’s visit to Akpabio in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, on Monday, during which the governor begged him to stop further defections of PDP House members to APC following the switch of political allegiance by 37 federal lawmakers.
The party had recently dissolved both the executive committees in its local chapters in Kwara and Sokoto States following the defection of their governors.
But while the members of the Sokoto State caretaker committee of the party were waiting to be inaugurated along with their Kwara State counterparts in Abuja yesterday, they were told that only those of Kwara would be sworn in.
Members of the Sokoto State PDP Caretaker Committee, including the nominated chairman, Hon. Abba Anas Adamu and the Secretary, Ahmadu Sulieman, were already seated at the national secretariat of PDP waiting to be inaugurated when word came from the presidency that the committee should not be inaugurated until further notice.
Sources said a list of new committee members, comprising loyalists to Tambuwal, was being complied and would be inaugurated later.
Inaugurating the Kwara State Caretaker Committee with Solomon Edoja as chairman and Jubril Bala Jos as secretary, Tukur charged them with the task of ensuring PDP wins next year's governorship election in the state.
Speaking later on the defection of 27 members of the Sokoto assembly to APC, he described it as democracy in action.
“This is democracy in action where freedom of choice is entrenched. Their defection is in line with their governor, Aliyu Wamakko, who had earlier defected.
When 27 people leave, 270,000 will come in; this is democracy by election. If few had left, many would come in,” he said.
Tukur who restated his belief in democracy said there would no longer be imposition of candidates as the era had gone in PDP.
Also yesterday, Mark expressed hope that PDP would overcome the challenges posed by the loss of its members to APC.
“We will arrest the current situation and save our party from further disintegration. Some Nigerians are talking about the tsunami in the PDP because of the defection by some members of our party holding elective and non-elective positions.
“But as leaders, we will not sit by and continue to allow this drift. We shall do the needful and ensure that we save our great party,” he said.
Mark, who spoke while hosting the British Parliamentary Undersecretary of States for Justice, Jeremy Wright, in Abuja, also called for a global approach to tackle terrorism and end the menace threatening world peace.