By Musa Dangusau
The signs are everywhere that Governor Bello Matawalle of Zamfara State is set to abandon the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to join the All Progressives Congress (APC).
The recent creation of a faction within the PDP in Zamfara is seen as the last attempt to create an avenue for the governor to defect, as every true member of the PDP in Zamfara knows there is no such thing as a faction within the party.
If Matawalle’s plan to dump the PDP succeeds, however, it will go down in the political history of Nigeria as one of worst cases of ingratitude and betrayal since the First Republic, when political proteges of Chief Obafemi Awolowo left the Action Group to join forces with opposition political parties in the bid to cancel the very platform that gave them a start in politics.
Though Nigeria has witnessed several cases of political realignments, which ended in change of platforms, most have been due to perceived injustice and lack of fairness. For instance, when Atiku Abubakar left the PDP in 2006 to join the Action Congress of Nigeria, it was because he knew that President Olusegun Obasanjo was hell-bent on not allowing him contest the presidential primary, or, recently, when Governor Godwin Obaseki left the APC for the PDP.
But in the case of Matawalle, there is no compelling reason for him to leave the PDP other than for selfish interests.
The PDP has given Matawalle so much in his political life that one had expected him to remain eternally grateful to the party to the extent that he should be prepared to make sacrifices and put in considerable efforts to build the party even if he notices lapses in how the party is run.
Less than two years after benefitting immensely from the PDP, it appears that all the Zamfara governor can think about is how to betray the party.
More worrisome is the fact that, while other governors are doing much to help the parties that brought them to power succeed, Matawalle’s major preoccupation has been to neglect the party, leading to the current situation where moves are in advanced stages to announce his defection.
With this kind of attitude, it will be difficult for any political party to trust candidates, as so many of them have proven that they only need a platform to contest elections but do not share in the plans and manifestos of the parties.
The case of Matawalle is even more troubling considering all that the PDP had done from him, starting from the governorship primary in which his major opponent Sahabi Ya’u was prevailed upon to step down for him.
Even as he was given the PDP ticket on a silver platter, Matawalle did not add any value to the party as the PDP suffered terrible defeats in all the elections, starting from the House of Assembly to the governorship, where Matawalle polled only a meagre 345,089 votes to come a distant second in the race in which the APC candidate, Mukhtar Shehu Idris, polled 67.41 per cent of the total votes.
What this implied was that Matawalle’s candidacy was not only inconsequential but of microscopic consequence and did not in any way resonate with the people.
But the PDP did not betray any feeling of disappointment in spite of the dismal performance and kept faith with Matawalle until the Supreme Court court judgment held that the APC did not have any valid candidate in all the elections that held in Zamfara State as it did not conduct valid primary elections to nominate candidates for any elective position in the state and, on that score, ordered that candidates of parties with the highest number of valid votes cast with the required spread stand elected, which gave Matawalle the opportunity to become governor.
For a party that had given Matawalle that much, it is the highest form of ingratitude for him to abandon it midway on the cusp of another major election.
If the experience of the last elections is anything to by, however, he won’t go far as Matawalle is not cut out for the kind of schemes and subterfuge in the Zamfara APC.
Unlike in the PDP where he was handed the ticket of the party on a silver platter, this time he has to struggle with entrenched godfathers and deep-pocket politicians to get the party’s ticket.
Even if the arrangement is to give him an automatic ticket, there is no guarantee that it will not be contested by the other power blocs within the party.
And if, by chance, the interests of these forces are not taken care of, there is no guarantee that they might not move to the opposition and serve the same dose of his medicine.
•Dangusau contributed this piece from Gusau,