The Peoples Democratic Party may have started offering ‘re-election tickets’ to its members in the National Assembly as a means of dissuading them from supporting the reported drive by the All Progressives Congress lawmakers to impeach President Goodluck Jonathan.
In the House of Representatives in particular, the bait was said to have “toned down” the anger of some PDP members, who ordinarily would have backed the bid to remove Jonathan.
An influential National Assembly source said on Sunday that “many of these lawmakers have long fallen apart with their state governors.
“They have been told before now that they should forget any ambition to return in 2015.
“Attempts they made to use the Presidency to intervene in their case also did not turn out in their favour.
“But, with the impeachment move against Jonathan, the party is now assuring some of the members to keep supporting the President as the tickets can still be theirs.”
About 113 lawmakers, largely of the APC fold, began collecting signatures to impeach Jonathan after the police and Department of State Service operatives locked the gates of the National Assembly on Thursday.
Many of them, including the Speaker, Aminu Tambuwal, were held out for hours as a result of the security action.
The development led to commotion as angry members resorted to scaling the gates to enter the National Assembly premises.
Amidst a rain of tear-gas, the enraged lawmakers also forcibly took Tambuwal into the chambers to preside over the day’s proceedings.
The security action was said to be connected with the October 28 defection of Tambuwal from the PDP to the APC.
However, the police claimed that they acted on a security report indicating that some persons planned to invade the National Assembly.
Investigations showed on Sunday that the PDP immediately started reaching out to its members after it turned out that the collection of signatures was real.
The party was said to be mobilising the PDP caucus against joining their APC colleagues in any bid to impeach Jonathan.
A senior PDP member, Mr. Bethel Amadi, confirmed to The PUNCH that the caucus would be mobilised to stop any impeachment move against Jonathan.
Amadi said, “Jonathan has not committed any offence to the best of our knowledge. There is no reason to drag Mr. President into any crisis happening at the National Assembly.
“In any case, we (PDP) are in the majority, both in the Senate and the House. So, any talk of impeachment can only make one laugh.”
But, The PUNCH gathered that the PDP was wooing Senators and House members with the return tickets to keep them in check.
Another source said, “You know that to impeach the President there must be a joint effort of the Senate and the House.
“While one arm can initiate the process, it cannot get far without two-thirds support of both chambers.
“That is why, getting senators and House members to stay out of the APC’s plot is vital.”
Findings also showed that the ‘return tickets bait’ was the reason some PDP legislators were still not showing strong interest in the impeachment move.
It was learnt that by the first week of December when the picture would have become clear on whether they would get return tickets or not, the PDP lawmakers “will begin to come out in their true colours.”
A third source, who spoke with our correspondent in Abuja said, “After the primaries, you will see surprises. Many PDP members in the House are as angry as their APC colleagues.
“They have only two weeks to decide on many issues.
“By December, those saying that there will be no two-thirds will be surprised.”
When contacted, the APC caucus told our correspondent that its members were not retreating on the issue.
One of the front-liners in the collection of signatures, Mr. Ahmad Ali, claimed that more members had signed up since the first set of 113 began on Thursday.
Ali, who is the Chairman, House Committee on Justice, said,”In the House, the collection of signatures is gaining traction.
“I cannot tell you the exact number now.” House Minority Leader, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, also said that the “impeachment is on course.”
“PDP people have plans, we have plans. We are all planning,” he said.