Nigeria's ruling party loses majority in House of Representatives as 37 lawmakers defect

Nigeria's faction-ridden ruling party has lost its majority in the House of Representatives as 37 legislators defected to a new opposition coalition.

It is an unprecedented position for a ruling party in Africa's biggest oil producer and a major blow to President Goodluck Jonathan before 2015 elections.

Wednesday's defections follow that of five state governors last month, leaving the ruling People's Democratic Party with the support of fewer governors than the opposition.

Jonathan is confronting criticism from his own party and outsiders amid accusations of corruption and divisive politics.

He is accused of weak governance as Africa's most populous nation faces an Islamic uprising in the northeast, deadly ethno-religious clashes in central Nigeria and renewed militancy in the oil-rich south along with crippling oil thefts linked to politicians.