Voice of America (Washington, DC)

15 February 2014

Nigeria: Ruling Party Denies 'Bribing' Defected Legislators

A spokesman for Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party (PDP) has denied President Goodluck Jonathan's party is in crisis ahead of next year's general election following his decision to sack senior officials from his administration.

Abdullahi Jalo also rejected criticisms that the PDP has been bribing legislators who recently defected to the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) after five of the lawmakers who left the group announced they were returning to the ruling party.

He rejected media reports that the PDP is in crisis.

"Where and when? Don't listen to what people are saying. I am saying people are coming back from other parties to the PDP," said Jalo. "There is no faction in the PDP. PDP as it is now has the highest number of members in the House of Representatives and the highest number of members in the Senate, which means there is no faction," said Jalo.

Jalo's comments came after President Jonathan sacked some members of his cabinet including his chief of staff in the latest of a wave of government changes ahead of next year's vote.

He says the legislators who defected realized they have a better chance at retaining their seats in the ruling party than in the opposition in the run up to next year's election.

"They realized that going there to the APC has a lot of problems for their political future and for their political fortunes," said Jalo.

But some observers say the PDP appears to be panicking following the recent high-profile defections of influential governors, lawmakers and most notably the former vice president Atiku Abubakar, who is also a major financier of the party. They also cited the refusal of the senate president David Mark to allow the formal defection of 11 senators from the PDP to the opposition as a signal that the ruling party is in trouble.

Jalo disagreed, saying the senate president was respecting the country's laws.

"There is a court issue on the matter and where there is a pending suit on the defection. So the president of the senate has no right whatsoever to entertain any letter from those that are defecting. If he did that it would be a contempt of court and then he would be embarrassed," said Jalo. "The senate president is just respecting what the law says and what he stands for as the number three in the line of succession."

Jalo, however, says the PDP is implementing new measures to address its internal challenges in the run up to next year's vote after Bamanga Tukur, former national chairman of the party, resigned. Alhaji Adamu Mu'azu is the new national chairman of the PDP.

"The new chairman has come on board and visiting all those who are the brains behind the formation of the PDP. And wherever he goes, he will say be patient, please forgive us and let's forge ahead. So that is the PDP of today," said Jalo.

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