Rebel governors leave Nigerian PDP for opposition


ABUJA (Reuters) - Rebel governors who defected from the ruling party of Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan in August merged their splinter group with the main opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) on Tuesday.

Seven governors and a former presidential candidate formed a splinter group opposed to Jonathan in August. All of them were present for the meeting at which the decision to merge was made, said Lai Mohammed, spokesman for the APC.

"After exhaustive deliberations, the two parties agreed to merge in order to rescue our fledgling democracy and the nation," said a joint statement, read out by Kawu Baraje, chairman of the splinter group.

Governors are some of the most powerful figures in Africa's biggest oil exporter, so the defection of seven from his own party was seen as the most explicit internal threat to Jonathan's assumed plan to run in elections in early 2015.

Nigeria's ruling People's Democratic Party has been in power since shortly after the end of military rule in 1998, but it has increasingly been riven by internal squabbles.

Many northerners say Jonathan's running again would violate an unwritten rule within the PDP that power should rotate between the largely Muslim north and mostly Christian south every two terms.

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