The number of lawmakers in the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was further depleted on Wednesday, following the defection of Adamawa North Senator Ishaku Abbo to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
His defection trailed last week’s departure of Ebonyi State Governor Dave Umahi from the opposition party.
Abbo, who was elected in last year’s general elections, is a close associate of former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar, a PDP leader.
The defector told reporters in Abuja that he dumped the PDP for the APC to enable him contest against Governor Umaru Fintiri during the 2023 election.
He added: “The governor did not defeat me. The governor did not chase me out. I actually gave way so that I will go and take his seat from him.”
With his defection, the APC now has 60 senators, the PDP has 42 and the Young Progressive Party (YPP) has one senator.
Four senators had died while two senators are now governor and deputy governor of Bayelsa State.
Exuding confidence, Chairman of APC Caretaker/Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee and Yobe State Governor Mai Mala Buni said there would be more defections to the ruling party in the coming days.
The chairman also said the party had set up a committee to review the APC Constitution.
Abbo, in his letter of resignation from the PDP, which was read on the floor by Senate President Ahmad Lawan, said he quit because of the “mismanagement of the PDP by Governor Ahmadu Fintiri in Adamawa State”.
He said the governor’s style led to a crisis and polarisation of the state chapter.
Abbo’s notice of defection, titled: Movement of God’s People from the PDP to the APC, reads: “I write to formally inform you, sir, the Senate and indeed Nigerians, of my defection from the PDP to the APC.
“This is as a result of the mismanagement of the PDP by Governor Fintiri in Adamawa State, which led to the crisis in the party that in turn led to the polarisation of the party in the state (PDP and rPDP).
“Today, I join the APC and the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari, to build the Nigeria of our dreams.
“The journey may be long, but we are on the right track as I strongly believe that by the end of the tenure of Mr. President, Nigeria will be a better place.
“My Senate President, sir, it is worthy of note that in the history of Nigeria’s nascent democracy, specifically from 1999 till date, no President has paid attention to the welfare of Nigerian citizens like President Buhari as it is evident in packages such as:
“Conditional Cash Transfer (CCT); Homegrown School Feeding Programme (HGFP); Trader Money; Market Money; Farmers’ Money; N-Power; Special Public Works Programme, currently employing 1,000 persons from each of the 774 local Ggovernment areas;
“National Agricultural Land Development Authority (NALDA); Buhari Young Farmers’ Network; Artisans and Transportation Grants;
Guaranteed Off-Take Scheme; CAC Business Formalisation Scheme; and Micro, Small & Medium Enterprises (MSME) Grants, among others.
“Thus, in living up to the expectation of the good people of Adamawa North Senatorial District, I hereby defect from the PDP to the APC with effect from today, being Wednesday, November 25, 2020.”
After the letter was read by the Senate President, Abbo formally relocated to a seat on the side of the chamber occupied by APC senators.
Buni attributed the defections to the resolution of the crisis in state chapters by the caretaker committee.
Speaking after a meeting at the party’s secretariat in Abuja, he said: “The party now proudly parades political heavyweights in their respective states who have either returned to the party or freshly joined the party.”
At the meeting were Senate President Lawan, Senate Leader Yahaya Abdullahi, Secretary of the APC’s Caretaker Committee, Senator James Akpanudoedehe, and some APC senators, including Senator Abbo.
Buni added: “We have the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara; former PDP National Chairman, Senator Barnabas Gemade; several members of the National Assembly, Chief Jimoh Ibrahim, former Head of Service of the Federation, Mr. Danladi Kifasi, Senator Isa Hamma Misau, Alhaji Salisu Takai, among others.
“Our recent big catch, Governor of Ebonyi State, His Excellency, Mr. Dave Umahi, and several legislators of the state House of Assembly are indeed great milestones in our restoration process. Many others have indicated interests to either return or join the party…”
The PDP yesterday warned Abbo about the legal implication of his defection to APC.
In a statement in Abuja by its spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan, the PDP said: “He is fully aware of the constitutional implication of his decision to defect to another party; which is that he cannot continue to occupy the seat of the PDP in the Senate.”
The statement added: “The place of any senator who changed parties, except on the grounds provided by the Constitution, is very clear and the PDP will not allow Senator Abbo to run away with our mandate. It is impossible. Our party has already commenced the process for his replacement with a credible, stable and acceptable person, to take over his seat in the Senate.”