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Gale Of Defections: Nigerians Question The Integrity Of Politicians

By Godwin ijediogor
25 April 2015   |   2:37 pm
BEFORE the March 28 Presidential/National Assembly elections, Nigeria was heading towards a two-party state, with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) squaring up with the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). Both parties appeared to be equally matched. But gradually, the PDP began to be eroded, and with the outcome of those elections, which reversed the game, as APC upstaged PDP, the fortunes of the later has continued to dip.The recent and continuing defection of PDP members, including chieftains, to the incoming ruling party, the APC, so soon after the polls, has elicited sharp reactions over the integrity and principle of the average politician, who is always seek relevance and to reap, even where he/she did not sow. GODWIN IJEDIOGOR spoke to some politicians on the issue, all of them lambasting the defectors and criticizing the trend.

gales of defection

BEFORE the March 28 Presidential/National Assembly elections, Nigeria was heading towards a two-party state, with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) squaring up with the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC). Both parties appeared to be equally matched. But gradually, the PDP began to be eroded, and with the outcome of those elections, which reversed the game, as APC upstaged PDP, the fortunes of the later has continued to dip.The recent and continuing defection of PDP members, including chieftains, to the incoming ruling party, the APC, so soon after the polls, has elicited sharp reactions over the integrity and principle of the average politician, who is always seek relevance and to reap, even where he/she did not sow. GODWIN IJEDIOGOR spoke to some politicians on the issue, all of them lambasting the defectors and criticizing the trend.

‘Most Politicians Today Are Bread And Butter’
ANY keen watcher of Nigerian politics knows that mass exodus will follow.

This is because most politicians today are ‘bread and butter’ ones or, if you like, ‘stomach infrastructure’ people.

It is not justified because a political leader must stand for something. So, when he jettisons his party, he renounces all that he has stood for over the years.

For example, the Imo State governor and his party do not believe in rotation of power among the three senatorial zones. When you join his party from PDP (the Peoples Democratic Party), you must renounce all ideas about rotation.

It does not portend good will for our democracy, because such politicians will cut of their noses to spite his faces. Such politicians are lily-livered, men of straw and like a rolling stone, will gather no moss.

The late (Chief Obafemi) Awolowo, (Asiwaju Ahmed) Tinubu, etc never abandoned their parties for not winning elections. Some people, eventually win an election, jumping up and down, but check their utterances… unmitigated rubbish!

There is no fear of one party. The way the opposition repacked itself is the method the PDP will use to re-invent itself.

At the moment, the APC (All Progressive Congress) is the destination of all sojourners, but many will return when they notice that other people have taken what they want.
-Goddy Uwazurike, Lagos-based lawyer

‘What Is At Play Is Fair-Weather Alliances And Hypocrisy’
I AM not surprised at the defection craze for many reasons.

One, APC is not really a party yet, in the real sense; it is a continuing assemblage of political brigands, power grabbers and marauders, and also patronage seekers in the nature of businessmen and jobbers.

Apart from the Tinubu group of AD, who has remained steady since 1998, and some of Gen. Mu8hammadu Buhari’s followers from 2003, all the major politicians in APC are of the old PDP stock.

Two of the Southwest APC governors, specifically Ogun and Oyo, were of PDP family. All the APC governors of the three northern regions were in PDP until a few months ago, except the governors of Borno and Yobe states.

The same thing could be said of the elected legislators. The ones floating in between are now landing to join the victory dance and get their own patronage.

These men and women are contract seekers, and jobbers.

The recent tweeter altercation between Senator Musiliu Obanikoro and Rivers State Governor Chibuike Amaechi summarises the ongoing scenario.

Just like President Jonathan, Obanikoro acted impressively by congratulating the governor-elect of Lagos State, whom he has never shared any political affiliation with, and invited Amaechi to initiate a healing process by congratulating the governor-elect of Rivers State.

But Amaechi was hostile and raised issues of derangement and values.

Meanwhile Amaechi, Obanikoro, and Wike were PDP members until barely eight months ago.

So, what is at play is fair-weather alliances and hypocrisy. Let no one be deceived; the true colours of all the political gladiators have started to emerge. Some of us consider the nation building consequences in every of our political action, as there must be political and socialisation harmony for any reengineering process and development to happen.

What is happening is not completely unexpected; our democracy is still at infancy stage. We are who we are and the shape and shade of our political parties will always reflect that.

My concern is not with what is happening at the moment, but rather, that our people are too used to what I like to refer as ‘gallery dance’ that they fail to make meaning of the ever-evolving phenomena that we should ordinarily use to better our understanding and enrich the nation building process.

I doubt that Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, for example, can work well with Buhari. The two could not work together in 2003, as one tried to sabotage the other then.

The same could be said of Tinubu, Atiku, or some other politicians.

So, let’s watch and see, but try to be mindful to make important deductions from the whole madness.

However, the most important lesson from the whole elections and defections conundrum is that the ordinary people are desirous of change in Nigeria.

A well-intentioned leader must capitalise on the energy of the people at the moment and drive that change.

Slogan is not change leadership. If Buhari is able to take up the challenge, praise God. But he should be mindful of the bogus ego of the economists and miracle worker marauding around as APC politician or technocrats.

President Goodluck Jonathan has created a non-acrimonious post-election climate that is perfect for effective take off of a new government, and we must commend him for this rare statesmanly feat and congratulated Buhari for his tenacity and victory.

I hope all these works well to privilege our people and the Nigeria state.
-Ralphs Okey Nwosu, National Chairman of Africa Democratic Congress (ADC)

‘Defectors Are Political-Moths’
LET me start be classifying those who defect from one political party to the other as political moths.

Moths are nocturnal insects that thrive mostly in the night searching for warmth. This is their season, no wonder there are gale of defectors in our political landscape.

The gale of defections of politicians, especially from the ruling PDP to the APC is expected, but whether it is right or wrong is another matter.

To a large extent, it denotes lack of principle, lack of honour and dearth of all the fine tenets of democracy. Therefore, it is wrong-headed and self-serving.

It is expected, not actually for good reasons, but for wrong reasons, because we run a ‘food is ready’ system, where politicians behave like moths.

The moth perches in a bulb with light or wherever there is light, for it hates cold and in other to warm itself, it must locate to where there is light or fire to warm itself.

We are human beings and should be more principled and more committed to whatever we think will be for the common good, not for self.

Otherwise, what if not for self, motivates one who has been a PDP member for years to switch camp immediately APC emerged the winner? In fact, some of the defectors were principal officers of the PDP.

It shows that they have lost the sense of shame or do not even regard shame as a vice.

On one hand, it may lead to one-party state, which breeds dictatorship, impunity and all other vices that simulated the decline of PDP.

On the other hand, it may fortify the APC to become a leading party for the next two decades.

This scenario is very difficult to attain, giving our peculiar circumstance, where the defectors are basically fair-weather politicians.

Our recent history clearly shows that one-party state cannot survive for long, as the promoters of PDP assumed years ago that the party would rule uninterrupted for 60 years.

This is because one of the major outcomes of the March 28 presidential election is the empowerment of the voter. It is now clear that our votes count. Therefore, we can vote in and vote out an incumbent.

Accordingly, my take is that we of the APC should as much as possible discourage the defectors and insist or encourage them to remain where they are coming from.

This is why some of us are happy when Buhari signaled that he won’t accommodate them in his cabinet, meaning that they will not be allowed to taint his administration.

Those who know Buhari will tell you that he doesn’t take prisoners; otherwise, he could have defected.

Many do not know that sometimes before the 2007 presidential election, the then outgoing President Olusegun Obasanjo said that he would back Buhari if he defected to PDP. This offer, he refused there and then, saying that for him, it was not to do-or-die.

As far as the defectors are concerned, what matters is what is in there for them. They are the rich Nigerians who do not care whether Nigeria’s image is at the lowest ebb or not, as far as their feathers are nested.

This variant of politicians are among those that kept our dear country on its knees, where, in spite of the unprecedented oil revenue, 70 per cent of our people live below poverty line and the tiny few live in affluence.

They can be likened to she goat that will never extend favours to kids of other goats, no matter how hungry they are.

They loot our treasury with the particular objective of festering their nets, investing abroad and flouting ill-gotten wealth with undeserved titles and obscene life styles.

The exodus is not a healthy phenomenon and cannot sustain any political party.

For this, it is my candid wish that the PDP remain a strong opposition. I share the view of our National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, that the defection is antithetical to democratic growth, as no matter how benevolent a regime is, it will better serve the people if there are checks and balances.

With his perspective, one envisages a position where APC, under him, will place guidelines before admitting new members from the PDP and their satellite surrogate political parties.

There is palpable fear of the emergence of one-party state; we must generate the political will to stem it. We must deliberately construct an antidote to one-party state, for it may surface in the next few years and compound the already existing fault lines.

The imperative of halting one-party state is real, for it may simulate ethno-religious merchants to harm or at best distort society equilibrium.

The luck APC has is the uncommon integrity and transparency of Buhari, which is the political capital on which he was elected.

His character will chart the progressive course and the social democracy content for our great party.

PDP has no such enigma, like Buhari, who practises what he preaches.

Buhari’s first step seems to have been constructed in his covenant with Nigeria, which to a great extent will largely minimise the missteps people may envisage.

For instance, he will openly declare his assets and persuade, if not direct, his ministers to follow through.

Secondly, he pledged that his Federal Executive Council (FEC) would not award contracts; rather, he will set up the National Council on Procurement (NCP), as stipulated in the Procurement Act.

This proviso will help to shield the heat from the contract kitchen, restricting his job from monitoring the NCP on Procurement.

These are some snippets of the change we talk about.
– Osita Okechukwu, a member of the Buhari campaign team

‘The Rush To The APC Is Unfortunate’
WE are not surprised at all by the defections into the APC; it is a trend that has been with us in our politics.

Except for committed and ideologically positioned politicians, the tendency is to gravitate towards the party in power at state or national level.

The PDP had always been the destination of choice for political nomads. The APC, with its victory on March 28 and April 11, has now assumed the position previously occupied by the PDP.

The indecent haste by which some key players of PDP are rushing to the APC is all the more unfortunate, given that the APC is yet to assume office at the federal level.

Ultimately, it is hoped that our democratic enterprise endures. There is the tendency that this political nomadism would be reduced to the barest minimum.

This tendency to jump political party or cross the carpet for those in the legislature emanates from the prebendalism in our politics; politics of bread and butter or in street parlance, stomach architecture.

Our politics for now is largely based on the mundane- ethnicity and religion- as against the ideal of programme or ideological leaning.

It takes courage, commitment and focus to be in “opposition.”

I have severally stated that in the sort of multi-party system we practice, for it to be viable and virile, there must be a minimum of two contending parties or platforms. This was achieved when the APC was born last year.

The recent elections are is the first general election in this keenly contested by two major parties, leading to APC defeating the ruling PDP. In Nigeria, for the first time, a party in “opposition” defeated a party controlling the federal government.

I am deeply concerned with the human erosion, which has beset the PDP by its defecting members. The PDP must survive and remain viable, as an alternative to APC for now.

I say for now because I am looking forward to the new PDP or a combination of parties that will act as a counter to the APC.

I believe that the APC is not ideologically seamless. There are progressives, middle roaders and arch-conservatives all gathered together in the APC.

These internal contradictions will erupt sometime along the line and make it shed some weight when the reality of governance has taken its toll.

I foresee a new PDP when it rises from the trauma of defeat, and I see a rebranded, new, improved APGA acting as a third force or third leg.

I foresee a three cornered fight in 2019- APC, a new PDP and a new formidable APGA. There will be input by way of electoral alliance from some of the mushroom political parties.

The APC will be courting disaster if it goes the way of PDP i.e., arrogance and disregard for the rule of law.

The change that has come about in our polity is irreversible. The people of Nigeria have woken up from their slumber and now know that there is a duty for the government they put in place to be accountable to them always, since sovereignty belongs to them.

The APC is aware how long it took it to attain federal power and, therefore, it behoves on it to guard carefully the four-year mandate given to it by the people, if it wishes for its renewal four years down the line.

APC must, therefore, be responsive and responsible in government and not take the electorate or the people of Nigeria for granted.

It must adhere strictly to the injunction in Section 14(2) b of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, which makes the security and welfare of the people the primary purpose of government.

It must not see other political parties or the “opposition” as enemies or hold them in contempt.
– Maxi Okwu ‘National Chairman’ of APGA  

‘Persistent Defection May Result In Unbalance And Unhealthy Party Politics’
IT is time we begin to ask ourselves if those defections are for interest of the nation or personal, selfish interest.

A defection from one political party to another, primarily in the interest of country’s development, would, of course, go a long way to enhance our democratic value.

If such is, however, done for personal interest, then it portraits unhealthy political development.

We believe the primary objective for their defection will be revealed, just in a matter of time. We shall see if they genuinely defected or not.

This will then expose their true understanding of democratic value and character.

Of course, the objective for the defection would define the nature of party politics in the country.

Also, persistent defection may result in unbalance and unhealthy party politics, which can as well sabotage constructive political positions.

Defection is not a new development in Nigeria’s political history. PDP was a primary beneficiary of defection from 1999 until recent times. APC is currently enjoying the same. It may be another party tomorrow.

It is on this note that we call for a democratic, constructive and balanced political atmosphere that allows equal level playing field for all political parties.

Elected and appointed members of the party (APC) must strictly uphold objectivity, equity and fair play in the implementation of their constitutional mandates to sustain the trust of every Nigerian in them.

They must hold transparency and accountability to high esteem in discharging their mandates.

They must be committed and focused in their duties, so that common citizens can maximally benefit from democratic dividend.

The incoming government must avoid unhealthy party, geographical/zonal, ethno-religion politics that result in division among Nigerians.

It must avoid interfering in legislative and judiciary processes at all levels, and strictly play by the rule of law.
– Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC)