World Bulletin / News Desk
Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) on Tuesday appeared to lose control of the country's political space after six of its seven governors officially defected to opposition mega-party the All Progressive Congress (APC).
"A meeting of the leadership of the APC and the New PDP met this morning at the residence of Kano State Governor Dr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso in Abuja," Abubakar Baraje, chairman of the breakaway New PDP, read from a statement signed by himself and interim APC chair Bisi Akande.
"After exhaustive deliberations, the two parties agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation," Baraje asserted.
One of the rebel governors, Babangida Aliyu of Nigeria's central Niger State, denied defecting to the opposition.
His spokesman, Danladi Ndayebo, told Anadolu Agency that Aliyu "remains in the PDP and is not part of the merger deal."
Nonetheless, the move still leaves the ruling party in control of only 17 states, down from a previous 23.
The APC, which had formerly commanded only 11 regional governors, now boasts a total of 17.
Nigeria has a total of 36 regional states.
Aliyu's seeming rejection of the deal would represent a major blow to the defection, since he is seen as a spokesman for the rebel governors.
Still, the move suggests that Nigeria may be gearing up to replace the long-ruling PDP, which has ruled the country since 1999 when Nigeria returned to civil rule following four decades of rule by the military.
Part of the rebel governors' demand is that President Goodluck Jonathan, the country's first leader from the oil-rich but restive Niger Delta region, should publicly renounce his rumored ambitions for a second presidential term in line with a promise he reportedly signed to stand for only one term.
Jonathan, for his part, has denied signing any such pact, while also refusing to reveal whether or not he had plans to run in 2015 elections.
The defection of the governors might translate into automatic defection of the lawmakers from their states too.
This would mean that Jonathan's PDP will no longer command a simple majority in the Nigerian parliament, although it is likely that the ruling party may seek court's interpretation of the country's electoral law regarding the issue of defection to strip the defectors of the seats won under its platform.Last Mod: 27 Kasım 2013, 09:32