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Africa

Nigeria's ruling party claims 'unfazed' by governors' defections

A faction of the ruling party, has defected to the main opposition party, the All Progressives Congress.The move gives the opposition greater control of both Nigeria's states and of legislators.

The decision by a faction of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, to merge with the opposition All Progressives Congress, APC, marks the turning point after several months of simmering crisis within the ruling party.

The defection is a blow to President Goodluck Jonathan and a major boost for the APC, which itself is the product of a recent merger between several opposition political parties, including two of the largest ones.

These political realignments represent clear attempts by opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan to prevent him from returning to power, should he, as many expect, seek re-election in 2015. Bola Tinubu is one of the key leaders of the APC that facilitated the merger with the faction of the ruling party.

"We are happy with the development, we have a commitment to rescue our country from drifting and to work together as a group and promote the interest of this country."

Impunity within the party

One of the five defectors is Admiral Murtala Nyako, state governor of Adamawa state, one of the areas battling an Islamist insurgency and where a state of emergency was declared in May. Speaking to DW's Hausa Service, Nyako blamed impunity within the party as one of the many problems that made them merge with the opposition.

"No Nigerian should be comfortable with this state of affairs. We know from history, lawlessness and impunity is the part of the leadership," Nyako said, adding that his decision to join the opposition was a gradual process.

"We appealed several times with letters, in articles and pronouncements, but there is still this impunity within the party," he said.

A picture of soldiers in uniform standing. (Photo: REUTERS/Tim Cocks)

Apart from the political crisis Nigeria is prone to insecurity in most of its nothern states

The merger of five governors with the APC now means the PDP has lost the majority status it has enjoyed in the last 15 years since Nigeria returned to democratic rule.

This new move could pose a challenge to any intention President Jonathan may have of running for a second term in office in 2015. Speaking to DW, Professor Adewale Oladipo, national secretary of the PDP, described the merger as merely an incident and said it will not threaten the president's political ambitions.

"As long as this president is desirous of running and Nigerians want him to run and I know they want him to run I can assure you that the incident will not in any way affect his chances."

'Who is the president?'

The struggle between President Jonathan and his opponents over who should become president in the 2015 elections started as far back as 2011.

Nigerian men walking in front of a banner of president Goodluck Jonathan at a Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) campaign rally. (Photo: EPA/GEORGE ESIRI)

Some analysts say the defections are a blow to President Goodluck Jonathan's future political ambitions

Many Nigerians like Nancy Robert, a university student in Lagos, feel Nigerian politicians are more concerned about who is the president rather than concentrating on the more crucial task of serving the people.

"It is too early to start the struggle of who become the next president in 2015. To my opinion it is best for them to concentrate on what they are appointed in the office for and make things work to make Nigeria move forward rather than fighting to produce the president," Robert said.

Nigeria's top politicians preside over billions of dollars which the country earns annually in oil revenues.

In a country noted for high level official corruption, the race to be in the political party that could produce the president, is now gaining speed.

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