By Mumini AbdulKareem
Pending any last minute adjustments in plans, 23 members of the Kwara State House of Assembly will tomorrow (Tuesday), at plenary formally announce their defection from the All Progressives Congress (APC), National Pilot, reliably gathered, last night.
The action is coming less than two weeks after Kwara Senators and House of Representatives members alongside their colleagues from other states announced their defection from the ruling party to the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The 23 lawmakers are widely expected to also join the opposition party as a strong coalition build up expected to challenge President Muhammadu Buhari in the 2019 general elections.
Besides, Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed on Thursday during a stakeholders’ meeting at the Banquet Hall, Ilorin told the gathering that “We are tired of the APC”.
To this end, a meeting to fine tune modalities for the conduct of the defection at the floor of House has been fixed for today at the Assembly complex.
The Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad is expected to preside over Tuesday’s plenary which will be the second time such mass defection will be experienced in the legislature.
A similar incident was recorded on January 22, 2014 when 22 out of the 24 lawmakers led by the then Speaker; Hon Razak Atunwa publicly defected from the PDP to the APC.
It was however gathered that Hon Saheed Popoola representing Balogun/Ojomu constituency of Offa in Kwara South, is unlikely to join the “bandwagon” defection.
The lawmaker is a member of the factional APC in the state who are reportedly scheming to take over the structure of the party after the alleged impending exit of the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki and loyalists of his dynasty.
Saraki has not announced his defection from the ruling party whose chairman, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole and other APC governors have stated their readiness to continue to engage genuinely aggrieved members to remain in the party.
Although the lawmakers will soon embark on recess, it could not be established whether the break will follow immediately after the conclusion of the defection exercise or not.
Top sources who spoke to this reporter over the issue confirmed that all is now set for the leadership of the House under the Speaker, Dr Ali Ahmad to make the switch.
“Everything is ready and we are good to go. You know our brothers at the National Assembly took the lead penultimate week and we will be following their footsteps in the state, on Tuesday.
“As you know, Tuesday is the official first day of our three sittings for the week and so we decided to fix a meeting for Monday expectedly to be presided by the Speaker in order to fine-tune modalities before the D-Day.
“As regards your question whether it is the House leader, Hon Hassan Oyeleke that will move the motion, I think all that will be trashed out during the meeting”, the source added.
According to another source, “there is no going back on the Tuesday date except if we decided to alter our plans based on this report (laughter)”. But we are home and dry and looking forward to that day. However, I cannot say for now if we will adjourn after Tuesday’s plenary or run the week in full circle or even upper week, I cannot put a ceiling on that”.
Asked on the fate of Popoola, the source said “Saheed will not be joining us. Remember he has openly identified with the fictional APC in the state and more impotantly, he has a lot of “issues” we are managing for him as a House. So that leaves us with 23 members including the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, other principal officers and members”.
When contacted on the telephone to react to the issue last night, Popoola who is the Chairman of the House Committee on Information said he will not be defecting alongside other members of the state Assembly.
The lawmaker was sighted at the factional APC meeting organised by the Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Muhammed in Oro on Sunday where he called for the dissolution of the leadership of the party in the state over alleged anti-party activities.
“I won’t be defecting with them, but I think I heard something like that has been scheduled for Tuesday or thereabout, you know based on recent developments, I am now alone,” he said.
Since the mass defection from the ruling party to the opposition PDP hit the National Assembly, the wave has been replicated in Benue and other northern states with reports that more defections will follow before the lawmakers resume for plenary in September.