I don’t know who coined the title of this essay, but whoever it is, he or she deserves our adoration and national award. It is a fitting name for the dangerous game our non-democratic politicians play, jumping from one political party to another for no reason drawing on principles. They make moves that retard our progress and diminish us simply on account of self-preservation. It doesn’t matter if the act stifles development and increases the misery in the land, they just don’t care. A friend told me the difference between our case and those that are developed is that leaders identify a wrong and work to correct it. We on the other hand magnify it. This is true and the main reason our leadership cadre is largely mediocre.
There has been a gale of cross carpeting from one political party to another on our political stage in recent times with the ugly trend assuming a frightening dimension in the last eight months. Every office in our political set up beginning from those in local governments to state and federal levels have seen one person holding tight to the people’s mandate and defecting from his political party to another under curious and highly controversial atmosphere. The switch is such that many now fear we could wake up one day and be hit with the news that the President of the Federal Republic has decided to leave his current party to join another or to form a new one entirely. Don’t say it can’t happen, for it has happened before in the bastion of democracy, America, when President Andrew Jackson, who was in office, left the party in power to form an entirely new one.
So, those who may say it can’t happen should better be mindful of history. Like most readers already know, history has a way of replaying itself. In our society currently the atmosphere is perfect for untoward possibilities including tyranny as in the case of Germany with Hitler; ethnic superiority rivalry is on under different guises. The menace of herdsmen, banditry and outright insurgency vague in objectives are no accidents, they are a deliberate push of narrow minded power mongers who have their senses intact.
They desire to recast the society in the image of their philosophy. The heat is what is forcing out cries from all of us. The ruling party at the moment is undergoing carefully orchestrated metamorphosis, the entire elected executive structure having been dissolved more or less by executive fiat in wake of contrived crisis. Power blocks unknown to many have been made to crumble and new ones created to serve purposes that in the weeks ahead task the nerve of our society. Early last week we saw imposed interim managers of the ruling party go to the President to get approval to schedule elective congresses. In other places it ought to be the other way round. The National Assembly has since surrendered the people’s sovereignty to the dictates of one man. They are in the mood to approve everything with minimal or no scrutiny. We should be concerned if we can draw from history. It could be we know but fear stoking the land has pushed everyone into a closet.
For anyone with deep sense of political engineering the signs we see are obviously those of great danger. The state of precariousness is so thick it could be cut with a knife. Our prayers is that let no knife be brought to the table or else the worse would happen. Political defection has added to the general climate of uncertainty. We see a contrived version which in my thinking is part of the larger game plan to decapitate and unduly establish a dominion of one tendency. If anyone were to ask my opinion on the development I did say things are working out very well according to the desires of those who wove the mischief. The main opposition party is the main target and in line with expectations, the party is gradually but systematically being ripped apart. It may look sweet to the planners but it is important they know it holds no good for our society. Those still in doubt will soon see.
Many politicians have changed parties. What should be of paramount concern should not be the personalities involved rather the very act of defection, its effects on democratic growth and progress, the rightness or otherwise of running away with a mandate given by the people based on ideals of a particular platform, specific kind of message and promises.
There is nothing wrong in switching political parties, ideally for the sake of morality and perhaps personal honour it will be nice to stay out where one has chosen ab initio to pitch his or her tent. This would have been an excellent and rewarding venture if the pillars of our democracy were built on truth, honesty and of course ideology. It isn’t and that is the tragedy. In our set up one man in this case, the president or governor, determines the process and fate of everyone. They are leaders of government and political parties in a society where government is the main dispenser of welfare.
Beyond that there is nothing like credible internal democracy in the political parties. As recent as last week we received news where in the Anambra State governorship primaries, polls never held yet results were announced in early hours of the next day. The general elections too are shadows of what true polling should be. There is no provision for independent candidacy. Even if we have, it can’t work where the process is not fair, transparent and credible. Military incursion into government, their arrest of the political process and their supervision of the formation of political parties resulted in deep dislocations which negatively affected the content and face of our democracy.
They left behind the “might is right” mentality. Imposition came from them; this was how Olusegun Obasanjo and Olu Falae became presidential candidates on the sweat of others. Largely they left a structure that encouraged opportunism. One is likely to say but they left behind members of their gang and cronies who have continued to ensure the survival of the sordid system. It is part of the reason politicians will continue to defect.
Defection is not positive; it brings no good to the individual nor his society. It will make a man lose value and of course in time his self-esteem. Its effect on nation building is catastrophic. It engenders instability and hate with tension following. Nations who have made it struck a balance between the dictates of individual freedom and the quest to protect society. What did they do? Simple: in line with the concept of freedom to associate, everyone can opt to be in any group of his or her choice, no problem with that; if perchance issues of moral standing arise and one suffers that at personal level, people should decide if they can do business with you given your known antecedent.
For politicians you are free to switch but if you hold an elected position, the law insists you drop it by resigning. Resignation attests to your commitment to principles. This is the aspect that makes our case very bad. The target for defections are mainly office holders and that is because of the power conferred by the office they hold; they fall for baits and choose to elope with a mandate that belongs to the people and given to a particular political party. This arrangement is absurd and ought not to be allowed to stand.
This is one example that makes our current constitution a very flawed document. On such a very cardinal matter it is silent, in respect of members of the legislature where it provided for resignation, same constitution waters it down with a caveat which makes carpet crossing legal so long there is a crisis in the political party. This provision to say the least is terrible. The rules should be one and unambiguous: if you hold a mandate and then desire to defect, resign the office and go to wherever you want.
Jurisprudence in other places was enriched by judicial pronouncements. Our judiciary is made up of members of our society. It may amount to abdication of responsibility to stay and watch reckless and conscienceless politicians toy with the lives and destinies of millions of innocent people. There is need for the Supreme Court to seize any opportunity to make a binding pronouncement on this vexed issue. The earlier the better it will be for all and in particular our society.