There is always a tussle of sorts in multi-party democracy as Nigeria practises. It has become a regular occurrence for politicians to jump from one political platform to another. Sometimes, it is even difficult to say which political party some of these politicians are in because they have moved too many times and within such a short time one could no longer keep track.
Defection is simply the transfer of one’s loyalty from one political group to another. This is a worldwide political phenomenon, not peculiar to Nigeria. Defection is consistent with political ideologies and convictions. People change their political allegiance because of certain convictions and circumstances. This means that one could leave the political party of like-minded people for another that professes his new ideology or belief. That is the situation all over the world, even in developed democracies.
However, in Nigeria, the fluidity with which politicians traverse from one political party to another is suspect. They easily flock into any party in power, only to jump out again immediately the party loses out in the power game. This is alarming and reduces our politicking to nothing but harlotry of the most debased form. For instance, former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, was once a Liberal Democrat before defecting to the Conservatives; he never returned to his former party. This is quite unlike what is obtainable in Nigeria.
To start with, political party is supposedly an association of people that share the same political ideology or interest. However, it is evident that Nigerian politicians are unscrupulous and lack political ideology. If anything, the only ideology driving them could be summed up as selfishness and stomach infrastructure.
Although they would not admit it, one very obvious reason for defecting is selfishness and the lack of moral principles while claiming to be serving the people. To Nigerian politicians, political parties are mere meal tickets and platforms to attain power. This is responsible for the unrestrained movement in search of where their bread will best be buttered, irrespective of the party. For them, there is nothing strange in this lifestyle because what matters to them is winning elections or being in the ruling party that has much to share; not issues, not the citizenry.
The funniest thing about this is that the difference between these parties is like saying a cup is half full or half empty; they are the same, with particular reference to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC), the two major political parties troubling Nigeria. They were all midwifed by the PDP, which can be described as their mother. They still have the genes of the PDP and behave alike, good or bad, only that Nigerians are at the receiving end.
However, of all the reasons adduced for political defection, the one reason most Nigerians cling to is the quest of politicians to hustle for what to eat, and nothing more. This is basically what former aviation minister, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, the latest to defect from the PDP to the ruling APC, is being accused of even though he denies it. Considering Fani-Kayode’s acerbic vitriol against the APC and President Muhammadu Buhari in the recent past, he was the last person people expected to leave PDP for APC.
However, Fani-Kayode is not alone. So many politicians have gone back to their vomit, trying to feather their nests and not for the masses they purport to represent.
In fact, Fani-Kayode claimed to have facilitated the earlier defections of Engr. Dave Umahi, Prof. Ben Ayade and Alhaji Bello Matawelle, the governors of Ebonyi, Cross River and Zamfara states, respectively, from the PDP to APC. Umahi, however, has accused Fani-Kayode of lying, saying he had nothing to do with his joining APC.
Fani-Kayode also said he was working on the governors of Bauchi, Enugu and Oyo. Nobody would be surprised if they do, with or without Fani-Kayode’s prodding. Ayade had actually said more PDP governors would join him in APC.
The influx of politicians from other parties into the APC, especially from the PDP, is worrisome. The list is endless, including senators, House of Representatives members and key party stalwarts. Though there is also a minimal movement of APC members to PDP, the former ruling party is being paid in the same coin it arrogantly dished to other parties while in power from 1999 to 2015. Most of them have since gone back to APC.
As at 1999, PDP had 21 state governors, the defunct All Peoples Party (APP) had nine, while the Alliance for Democracy (AD) had six. However, in 2007, almost every politician was headed to PDP and by May, PDP had gobbled many states and extended its control to 30 states, while ANPP (APP) whittled to four; All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), one; AD lost all but one of its states to PDP.
However, as at June 2021, the PDP has suffered a reversal and now controls only 13 states; the APC, 22, and APGA, one.
There are strong indications that the PDP will lose more members as 2023 approaches, including governors, lawmakers and ordinary members. In fact, some Nigerians had hilariously said PDP should defect to APC so as to free Nigerians from the toing and froing.
Nevertheless, if the APC gloats over the influx and is unwary of the kind of politicians it throws its doors open for in the days leading to the general election in less than two years, it is definitely going to stew in the pot of protracted internecine crises that cost PDP the power it boasted it would hold for 60 years.
The PDP had inadvertently flung its doors open for all comers and was unable to manage the interplay of forces pulling in different directions by its strange bedfellows. That PDP crisis resulted in the amalgamated power bloc, which is today known as APC, dislodging the PDP from power. Although the PDP is managing its own crisis, people feel it is doing it better than the APC, which is yet to face its own major crisis, especially considering the Supreme Court reference to the party’s Governor Mala Buni-led national caretaker committee.
The implication of the APC’s gains is that the party is more bent on widening its frontiers for the 2023 elections. Therefore, Nigerians are worried because the country is obviously tilting towards a one-party state, which is not healthy for democracy.
Obviously, the PDP leadership has not done much to stem the slide and that is why Rivers governor, Nyesom Wike, is leading the onslaught the national chairman, Uche Secondus. The tango has opened up the party for another round of crisis, which is still raging.
APC is getting bloated not because of any special thing the party has done but because it is the ruling party. In Nigeria, power of incumbency wields great allure to politicians.
That is the sole reason members of other political parties are trooping to APC because it is the party that has much to share and those desiring a piece of the cake definitely flock there. The question remains if APC is right in showing more commitment to wooing defectors than providing good governance?
Some leaders in APC have not helped matters with their utterances, which are being interpreted that people are being goaded, blackmailed or coaxed to join the party as a way of eliminating opposition. What is more important to Nigerians, however, is the implications of the defections, not necessarily the reason behind it. Defection is an unhealthy development that must be curbed or checked. It portends a slide to one-party state and once emplaced; it is as good as kissing democracy goodbye, leaving Nigerians in the vagaries of a dictatorship; this likely development is no longer fashionable in this age and time.
All the parties are guilty of inordinate and wacky defections. That is why PDP’s hoarse cries are not getting any sympathy. However, before PDP and everyone else defects to APC, our laws must be strengthened or properly interpreted and enforced. A situation where people just sleep in one party at night and wake up in another in the morning without regard to provisions of the law should no longer be tolerated. Any defecting elected office holder must relinquish that position to the party on whose platform he won the election. The law must stand up to its responsibilities and save our democracy from imminent collapse.