…Nigerian politicians use defection to settle scores and express grievances
The political conflict which defied all possible reconciliations between former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Adams Oshiomhole and the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki instigated the defection of the latter to the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). It was enmeshed in the allegations that Governor Obaseki refused to take the dictate of his former boss and godfather, Oshiomhole.
The consequence in the typical Nigerian politics is for the boss to retaliate by withdrawing his support. When the APC Screening Committee denied his bid to re-contest under their party based on discrepancies in certificates, Obaseki chose not to challenge the case as it was obvious that his destination would be PDP, and today he is the governorship flag bearer of the PDP in Edo State.
In a similar occurrence, there was rancour between the Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu and his deputy, Agboola Ajayi as friction in the choice of state affairs tore their relationship apart. The cause of their feud was borne out on the reports that the deputy opposed some political appointments his boss initiated for party members from Ondo South where Ajayi hails from.
Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State had intervened a few times to reconcile them, but there was always another differing issue. The fallout of these clashes was that Ajayi dumped APC for PDP.
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Prior the 2015 general elections, five PDP governors then including Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers; Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara; Rabiu Kwankwasor of Kano; Aliyu Wamako of Sokoto; and Murtala Nyako from Adamawa defected to APC. And before 2019 general elections, former President Bukola Saraki who dumped PDP to use APC platform to become a senator rejoined his former party alongside three APC governors in persons of Samuel Ortom of Benue; Aminu Tambuwal of Sokoto; and Abdulfatah Ahmed who could not cope with the ruling party’s dissipations and thought PDP was their fortress.
Our country has witnessed many defections of party members from those contesting for political offices at the federal, state and local levels. As it is agreed in political parlance that no permanent friend or enemy in politics, the politicians abuse this to hide under the liberty to carpet-cross to any political party of their choice since the fundamental human right of freedom of association still exists.
However, the basis of their political adultery is what poses a challenge to the good governance of our nation. Party members in this part of the world use defection as a tool to settle scores or express grievances. This is a reflection of democracy of bitterness we operate in this country.
The latest in the gale of defections is the former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara left PDP for APC on July 23, 2020. Initially, he declined to address the public on the issue, even when approached by newsmen in Abuja after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari. His defection, according to insinuations, would not be unconnected with the power play and permutations for 2023. While, some reports claim he is at loggerheads with the Bauchi State Governor, Bala Muhammed.
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But on Sunday, July 26, 2020, he clarified issues that initiated his defection in the letter of defection written to his Ward C, and made public. His primary reason for decamping was to bare his mind open concerning the administration of Bauchi State Governor. He claimed that doing so as a member of the party would label him a disloyal member.
Whatever the case is, it still does not warrant jumping around in the name of seeking political power or making grievances known. According to the PDP Chairman in Bauchi, Hamza Akuyam who was shocked at Dogara’s defection, “the former Speaker was allowed to nominate commissioners and other political appointees currently serving in Governor Bala Muhammed’s administration.”
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Some experts have argued that decamping, defecting or cross-carpeting in politics which is the desertion of a political party in favour of an opposing one, is prevalent in Nigeria due to the absence of political ideologies. The submission seems not to hold true because the defection of party members can be traced to Nigeria’s politics of healthy political ideologies. Rather, it is a conspirator’s device in politics.
In the first and second republics, political parties were established on ideologies: an aggregate ethical ideals, principles, doctrines and symbols that guide the conduct of the parties, the people and their performances. Yet, there were cases of defection then too. In 1951, some members of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroon (NCNC) in their scheme to deny Dr. Nnamdi Azikwe and his party the majority in the Western Regional House of Assembly decamped to the Action Group (AG).
It is a depressing issue in Nigeria for our politicians to decamp haphazardly. It shows lack of integrity, myopic thinking and selfish predispositions of the politicians involved. Democracy is bound to have conflicts, but can be resolved amicably in the biggest interest of the nation through people who voted them into power. Consideration of the candidates for political offices should transcend the financial capacity and partisan sway, the integrity should be placed higher above other attributes.
Governance requires bravery, tenacity and show of character, not exhibition of ignominy that our political leaders have their quiver full of. It is then obligatory of our politicians to survive the storms that rage within the party they have shown their allegiance, even if it means they would endure in the party without portfolio. Partisan politics is not a do-or-die affair that demands running from pillar to post to serve. After all, few politicians in Nigeria are seeking public posts to contribute to the development of the country.
The political framework of Nigeria can function when defections are minimised. Party members who longer align with political philosophies of their party can leave, and not as a result of internal crises which in most cases are about selfish agenda. The best party man that is dissatisfied with operations of his party can do, is to resign from his office or activities, and continually contribute his quota behind the camera, as a party loyalist. This kind of reasoning and practice is scarce in our society, but affordable if politicians are truly in offices in the best interest of the country.