Nelson Effiong, the senator representing Akwa Ibom South Senatorial District, has defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC.
Mr. Effiong was elected on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
He announced his defection during Thursday’s Senate plenary. The senator cited divisions within the PDP as his reason for leaving the party.
“No reasonable politician who is worth his salt would remain and allow his people to be drifting about without a direction,” said Mr. Effiong. “So I have decided today, the 19th day of January, 2017 to resign from the PDP and move to the party that is bringing peace and direction to this country, the APC. So I move.”
There had been rumours that Mr. Effiong was set to dump the PDP some days ago, but was prevented from doing so by the leadership of the Senate.
Mr. Effiong, a former speaker of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly, is from the same senatorial district as the governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel.
The Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio, who is also from Akwa Ibom State, spoke against Mr. Effiong’s defection.
Mr. Akpabio denied there was division in the PDP, and said the Akwa Ibom South seat would be taken by from Mr. Effiong through the court.
The leadership of the PDP is being claimed by two factions led Ali Sheriff and Ahmed Makarfi.
Mr. Akpabio and many other PDP Senators and governors are loyal to the Makarfi faction.
Joshua Dariye, Plateau, and Yele Omogunwa, Ondo, had earlier defected from the PDP to the APC, also citing division in the opposition party.
Many believe Mr. Dariye, a fugitive who fled the United Kingdom where he was being tried for money laundering in 2004, joined the ruling party in an attempt to avoid conviction in his ongoing trial over allegation of stealing N1.16 billion ecological funds belonging to Plateau State.
The APC now has 64 Senators in the 109-member legislative chamber.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, has said he would not leave the PDP.
His reaction followed calls made by some APC Senators, notably Kabiru Marafa, for Mr. Ekweremadu to defect to the ruling party to avoid removal.