Join ruling party, lose your seat, PDP tells Matawalle

Ahead of his defection to the governing All Progressives Congress (APC) Tuesday (today), the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has advised Zamfara state Governor Mohammed Bello Matawalle to reconsider his decision.

Specifically, the party said the governor stands to lose his seat in event of any defection. 

 PDP National Publicity Secretary Kola Ologbondiyan stated this Monday while speaking to journalists at the party headquarters in Abuja.

He said Matawalle’s planned defection is a decision to vacate office.

Ologbondiyan said  “no law allows him to cross over to any other party with the governorship mandate statutorily given to the PDP through the ballot box, as already established by the provision of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) and the standing judgment of the Supreme Court.

 “A combined reading of Section 221 of the 1999 Constitution as the pronouncements of the Supreme Court in Faleke v. INEC (2016) is clear in holding that it is the political party that stands for election, that votes scored in election belong to the political party and that the candidate nominated to contest at an election by his party, acts only as the agent of his party.”

The PDP spokesperson also cautioned members of the National Assembly as well as members of the Zamfara State House of Assembly, “not to allow themselves to be pushed into losing their seats as the provisions of the constitution is very clear in barring lawmakers from cross carpeting, except in a situation of a division in the political party upon which platform they were elected.

“There is no division in the PDP to warrant defection of any of our lawmakers. The PDP hopes that Bello Matawalle as well as members of the National and State Assembly from Zamfara state will take caution.

 “Meanwhile, the National Working Committee (NWC) has approved the dissolution of the Zamfara State Executive of the party. The decision is in line with the provision of Section 29 (2)(b) of the PDP Constitution 2017 (as amended). All party leaders, critical stakeholders and teeming members of our party in Zamfara state should, by this, be guided accordingly.”

Lawyers differ

Commenting on the legal implication of Matawalle’s move, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Yususf Ola-Olu Alli  said several governors had cross carpeted to other parties in the past, saying what the governor was about to do was not new.

 “I am not in a position to confirm or know what the governor will do next, but you must be aware that several governors have crossed carpeted to other parties before in this country and nothing happened,” Ali said.

 When Blueprint further probed, the silk said: “I won’t provide any legal opinion on this matter.”

 But an Abuja-based lawyer and former Assistant Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olatunji Salawu, cited the Supreme Court judgment in Amaechi versus INEC where the court ruled that Nigerians vote for parties and not individuals.

 “In Amaechi versus INEC, the Supreme Court expressly affirmed that Nigerians vote for parties and not individuals,” he said.  

My APC chair ambition intact -Yari

Meanwhile, former Zamfara state Governor Abdul-Aziz Yari has described Matawalle’s planned defection as a welcome development which won’t jeopardise his ambition to lead APC.  

He said the move indicated that APC was well built in Zamfara state, had more followership and doing better than other parties.  

He spoke in Kaduna Monday after a consultative meeting with thousands of APC stakeholders from the 14 local government areas of the state to further push his ambition.

Yari said: “We welcome Matawalle to the APC. We hope his coming will be a good development and add value to the party in the state. As a party, we need as many people as possible to make the party bigger. We held this meeting to inform our people of our decision of accepting for the governor to be in our party.

“When the governor comes into our party I will call his attention to focus on developmental issues and insecurity in the state. I kicked against his joining the party initially because of the nature of the way the information reached us, but whatever my reasons are because of my people. Some of our people who I’m representing are against his joining our party because they believe it would affect the oneness of the party.

“We are welcoming him because it shows that we are doing the right thing and APC is well built in Zamfara state. Our performance in Zamfara, Bauchi, Kano, Borno and Lagos states is one of the things that attracted him. We hope it would come with a success for the party in future elections.” 

On his ambition to lead the party, the former governor said: “It is the people that chose me as their leader, it is not self-appointment. My aspiration is still in top gear, his joining APC will not jeopardise it. If the zoning favours my zone then it is 100%. Two things I am bringing to the party are reconciliation and unity. 

 “I’m still pushing to be APC national chairman because I know I can do better than most of the people as former state party secretary, state party chairman, House of Representatives member, two-term governor and chairman Governors Forum.”     

The meeting was attended by ex-governor of Zamfara state, Alhaji Mahmuda Shinkafi, APC chairman in Zamfara state, former senators, former speaker of Zamfara state House of Assembly and other party chieftains.

 Senators Kabiru Marafa and Ikra Bilbis were however absent with apology.

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