By Ikenna Uwadileke
A Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) member in the House of Representatives, Rep. Emmanuel Ukoette, representing Ukanafun/Oruk Anam Federal Constituency of Akwa Ibom on Wednesday, defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He is the second member of the National Assembly from the state to switch loyalty to the APC. In January, Senator Nelson Effiong representing Akwa Ibom South senatorial district, also defected to the APC.
In a letter to the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara, read on the floor of the House, Ukoette notified the House of his defection.
He said he was leaving the PDP because of the inability of factions within the party to reconcile their differences.
“It is clear to Nigerians that the PDP is factionalised and therefore, baring members, especially I from engaging my constituents well enough.
“ The factions within the party are led by the National Chairman of the Party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff and Chairman of the PDP National Caretaker Committee, Sen. Ahmed Makarfi.
“ The string of legal battles trailing the leadership crisis might end in fiasco and that is not the ideals of the founding fathers and, therefore, my resolve to move to the APC,’’ he said.
Speaking on point of order, the Minority Leader, Rep. Leo Ogor (PDP- Delta), urged the Speaker to declare Ukoette’s seat vacant.
Ogor said Ukoette’s defection move would be challenged in court, adding that democracy was not about jumping from one political party to another.
“My Speaker, this defection will be challenged in the court because it is not true that the PDP is factionalised.
“I urge you to declare Ukoette’s seat vacant, so that he can go back for a fresh election and see if he will win an election on his new platform,’’ he said.
However, the Majority Leader of the House, Rep. Femi Gbajabiamela (APC-Lagos), urged to accept the situation with self-control.
“We are in a season of alternative path. One day, we have a swelling of the ranks of the opposition, the other day; we have a depletion of the ranks.
“I understand the feeling of the Minority Leader, but I believe that he should accept the loss because it appears more PDP members will join the APC,’’ Gbajabiamila said.
Earlier, Speaker Dogara swore in a new member, Rep. Johnson Oghuma (APC) to replace Phillip Shuaibu, who was elected as the Edo Deputy Governor on Sept. 28, 2016.
Oghuma represents Etsako Federal Constituency, Edo.(