The planned defection by 15 All Progressives Congress (APC) senators to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may have hit a brick wall.
The would be defectors have been warned by the APC that they risk losing their seats if they carry out their threat.
The senators themselves fear that the PDP may not be able to fulfill its promise of rewards for them if they defect now as there is no guarantee that the opposition party will be victorious in the 2023 elections.
And from the pan-Igbo socio-cultural organisation, Ohanaeze Ndigbo, to the political class yesterday came a declaration that parties denying the South East their presidential tickets for the 2023 elections would end in a pyrrhic victory.
Multiple sources said that the APC senators who are aggrieved over their inability to get the party’s return ticket to the Red Chamber are having second thoughts about dumping the party.
They are blaming the APC state governors for the situation.
It was gathered that the Senate leadership met with the senators and urged them to put the interest of the party over and above all grievances and considerations.
Sources at the parley added that the principal officers told the senators of the implications of their defection and vowed not to allow such a development ahead of the 2023 general elections.
The meeting was a follow-up to the aggrieved senators’ earlier meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.
Although the PDP is keen on the aggrieved senators switching camps to enable it become the majority party in the Senate, it has told most of them that it cannot replace its candidates whose names have already been forwarded to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
Whereas the law allows substitution of candidates, it is only applicable to PDP members and not defectors.
What the party could immediately offer the aggrieved senators are ministerial and board appointments and other forms of rehabilitation provided if it wins next year’s presidential election.
It was learnt that the raging cold war between the PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar and some governors, led by the Rivers State helmsman, Nyesom Wike, seems to have made defection less attractive.
Based on the uncertainties surrounding the defection terms, some of the APC senators are now said to be weighing the options of either staying in the party or be lukewarm to the 2023 polls.
But the PDP is not about to give up, sources said.
It was gathered that the opposition party was still mounting pressure on some of the senators to make symbolic defection to destabilise APC.
Most of the affected APC senators said they were waiting till after the Sallah break to see the outcome of the intervention of President Muhammadu Buhari in the matter.
A senator from the North-East said: “So far, PDP has made it clear that it cannot offer us the same tickets denied us by APC.
“Some of the leaders cited the Electoral Act 2022 which doesn’t allow a defector to replace a candidate already elected and presented to INEC. A replacement can only be from within PDP.
“The offers from PDP were limited to ministerial, board and some ambiguous appointments if the party wins the next presidential election. Only a foolish politician will place his hope on uncertainty.
“We still have chances in APC if we allow President Muhammadu Buhari to address the injustice we complained about.”
Another Senator said: “Some of us are having a second thought on defection because of the crisis of confidence between PDP presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, and some stakeholders.
“It is obvious that PDP has a bigger problem at hand and it might go into the election divided. This is a landmine.”
“From the situation, some PDP governors have opened collaborative talks with APC.
“Though the negotiations are still at preliminary stage, they cannot be wished away.”
A Senator from the South-West said the “decision of President Muhammadu Buhari will determine our next step. We want to see how he will address the different forms of injustice we highlighted.
“I think we will wait till after the Sallah break before we know our fate. For now, we are watching developments.”
On his part, a senator from the North-West said: “I am not defecting to any party again. I have not seen a viable alternative.”
A high ranking member of the Red Chamber told our correspondent yesterday that the aggrieved senators have soft-pedaled following the various interventions by the President and the leadership of the party.
According to the senator, there is no way the leadership of the red chamber will watch such a large number of senators leave the APC.
“If that happens, the APC will lose its majority in the Senate and the principal officers will lose their positions.
“This much have been made clear to the aggrieved senators and we have equally told them we won’t allow that to happen.
“There are rules guiding such thing in the National Assembly and the Senate President is empowered to declare vacant the seat of any member who breaches the rules guiding defection, especially when there is no crisis within our party.
“People can be angry, yes, there are machineries in place to address that. They have been told all this and they clearly understand.
“So, I don’t see them dumping the APC just like that. They will allow the party to wade into the matter. They will exhaust all avenues available within the party to address their matters.
“We are appealing to them and also urging them to consider the larger picture as loyal party members and committed democrats.
“They are listening to us in spite of the pressure by the opposition party.”
Reliable sources also said that some of the aggrieved senators failed to show up at a meeting with PDP representatives scheduled for last Friday for more discussion on the planned defection.
“The meeting was botched as many of the senators who have been in talks with the PDP failed to show up.
“The few that attended the meeting complained about the lack of commitment on the part of the PDP and demanded more real commitment ahead of the 2023 general elections,” our source said.
The exact number of the APC senators threatening defection is still uncertain.
Buhari, while meeting recently with the aggrieved senators in Abuja, had assured them that the leadership of the party would sustain the ongoing hearing and healing process to ensure fairness, justice and oneness before the 2023 general elections.
Earlier, the National Chairman of the party, Senator Abdullahi Adamu, had rallied some members of the National Working Committee (NWC) of the party, including the National Secretary, Senator Iyiola Omisore, to meet with the Senate APC caucus.
The meeting discussed the plot by the aggrieved senators to dump the party for the PDP.
Like Buhari, the National Chairman told the senators that the APC would look deeply into their complaints. Both President Buhari and Senator Adamu urged the senators to dump any plan to defect.