NIGERIA: Opinion- Politicians In Season Of Defection For 2015

NIGERIA: Politicians In Season Of Defection For 2015

The quest for relevance during the 2015 general elections and beyond appears to be the main driving force behind the recurring defection by Nigerian politicians, Fisayo Falodi writes.

The Nigerian political landscape has been dotted with defections and counter-defections by politicians. The ruling Peoples Democratic Party and the major opposition party, the All Progressives Congress have been more affected.

Dumping one political party for another has become the trade in stock of many of the nation’s politicians and as expected, they have always justified their actions by canvassing phrases such as “irreconcilable difference and lack of internal democracy in their previous parties” as the bases for their action.

Unlike late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the founding fathers of the nation, who were guided by ideologies with which they laid the foundation for the development of their regions and Nigeria at large, many of today’s politicians quickly defect to another political party once their personal interests and political ambitions are not met in any party.

Eight months to the 2015 general elections, analysts believe politicians have been engaging in various intrigues aimed at protecting their personal interests as well as positioning themselves for relevance.

The former governor of Kano State who is now the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, dumped the All Progressives Congress on January 29, 2014 for the Peoples Democratic Party alongside the former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa. The duo had before then described the PDP as the party of evils.

The two former governors, who were among the brains behind the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change to form the APC on February 6, 2013 so as to wrest power from the PDP during the 2015 general elections, have regaled Nigerians with their reasons for defecting to the PDP.

Announcing his defection after a meeting of stakeholders held in his Kano residence, Shekarau said he left the APC because of the injustice in the party.

Shocked by the defection, a former commissioner in Kano State during Shekarau’s administration, Alhaji Ibrahim Garba, recalled the former governor’s hatred for the PDP when he spoke with journalists recently.

Garba had said, “While we were in government from 2003 to 2011, Shekarau warned us to be careful of PDP because the party is for the devils. And this is why we didn’t follow him to PDP when he was defecting to the party.”

Though Bafarawa dumped the APC for PDP a day before Shekarau, he was protesting the emergence of the current Governor of Sokoto State, Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko, as the APC leader in the state.

Bafarawa’s Media Assistant, Mr. Yusuf Dingyadi, had claimed that his principal had met with Shekarau a day before the defection.

Considering his misgivings about the recent national convention of the APC held in Abuja, Nigerians were not shocked when the former governor of the crisis-ridden Borno State, Senator Ali Modu Sheriff, announced his defection to the ruling PDP.

His close associate, Inuwa Bwala, had earlier told journalists before the defection that Sheriff was no longer comfortable with the APC structure and had decided to join the PDP.

Sheriff, who had won elections three times on the platform of the defunct ANPP, justified his sudden love for the PDP, saying he took the decision in the interest of the country.

He had said, “Our interest should be on what makes the nation move forward. My decisions will be guided by the interest of the nation first. My thinking of moving to the PDP is also in the interest of the nation.”

Former Osun State Governor, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola, who had waited long for the PDP to abide by the court judgement nullifying his sack as the party’s secretary, openly criticised the party when he defected to the APC shortly before the August 9 governorship election in the state.

In Oyinlola’s opinion, the PDP on whose platform he contested for the governorship position in 2007, is a party of rogues as his comments suggested during the ground finale of the APC campaign in Osogbo a few days before the Osun State governorship election.

Like the usual characteristics of Nigerian politicians, the presidential candidate of the defunct Action Congress of Nigeria and ex-chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, embraced the APC when it was formed, but dumped the party recently for the PDP, the party he had described as a disaster and a total failure during his presidential campaign in 2011, to pursue his governorship ambition.

Though it was claimed that Ribadu was under pressure by the Presidency to join the PDP for the purpose of offering him the Adamawa State governorship ticket, the anti-graft chief purported acceptance of the offer did not go down well with the APC, which described the development as “very terrible.”

Expressing his disappointment over Ribadu’s defection, the APC National Chairman, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun, said, “It makes me sad because it is a very terrible thing. It is a confirmation of the level to which our society has degenerated.”

Despite the reservations expressed by Odigie-Oyegun, Ribadu, with his eyes fixed on the Adamawa State governorship seat, had applied to the national leadership of the PDP to grant him waiver to enable him to contest for the party’s governorship primary on September 6, 2014. He has also picked the party’s Expression of Interest Form.

Even before he planned to dump the APC, Nigerians had expected that the former Minister of Foreign Affairs during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Chief Tom Ikimi, would soon return to the PDP following his failure to realise his ambition of clinching the APC’s national chairmanship slot.

Ikimi, who is believed to have no particular conviction, had also traversed the defunct APP, ANPP, ACN and APC.

The former minister had said shortly after he failed to get the APC national chairmanship position during its convention in June that the convention was a charade, adding that he refused to attend because the APC Governors Forum and the party’s national leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, had already decided the outcome of the event.

Nigerians are, therefore, not surprised when Ikimi officially left the APC on Wednesday without disclosing his political destination, but he is believed to be returning to the PDP.

Having been denied a ministerial appointment recently, former Anambra State Governor, Peter Obi, resigned his position as the Board of Trustee Chairman of the All Progressives Grand Alliance under which he was elected governor for two terms of four years each.

Though he did not give any excuse for the resignation, analysts are of the opinion that the move was a precursor to an eventual defection to the PDP.

Already, the lawmaker representing Anaocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia Federal Constituency of Anambra State, Chief (Mrs.) Uche Ekwunife, has defected to the PDP. She was believed to have defected because she was not happy with the current leadership of APGA.

The latest defection news is that of the Ondo State Governor, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko. Though he had yet to announce his final defection to the PDP, the party he criticised for lack of internal democracy and dumped for the Labour Party in 2006, sources close to him said he had held series of meetings with aides and other stakeholders on the plan to move to the PDP.

Just last weekend, one of the sources told journalists that the governor made his intention known during an “expansive meeting of Labour Party stakeholders” held in Akure.

The source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the defection of Mimiko to the PDP should not be news any longer because the governor had been romancing the party at the national level.”

The governor has also collapsed his political structure under the “Iroko Frontiers” to a group called “Believe Nigeria, Trust Goodluck” for the purpose of supporting President Goodluck Jonathan’s re-election bid next year.

Analysts believe that Mimiko, who is now serving his second term in office, to lead all his supporters to PDP in order to position himself for either a ministerial or ambassadorial appointment ahead of the next general elections.

A rights activist and former Chairman of the Nigeria Bar Association, Mr. Monday Ubani, said though there is no law stopping a politician from moving from one party to the other, it is unfortunate that Nigerian political parties always fail to present comprehensive manifestoes to the electorate.

He was particularly miffed that the political parties were fond of telling lies and deceiving Nigerians during their campaigns.

Another lawyer, Mr. Jiti Ogunye, told our correspondent on the telephone that the defection of Nigerian politicians across political parties at will was not surprising because of their lack of principle and ideology.

According to him, the politicians’ frequent defection is calculated towards primitive accumulation of wealth to the detriment of the masses.

He said, “Because of their obsession to occupy political offices at all cost, Nigerian politicians will not mind jumping from one party to the other. To them, principle does not matter, ideology and manifestoes are nothing and they believe that the end justifies the means.

“Their desperation for power and lack of political character cannot bring about a better democratic society.”

Recalling that Mimiko had traversed three major political parties since the beginning of the return of democracy to Nigeria, Jiti said, “Mimiko was appointed commissioner for health by the late Ondo State governor, Chief Adebayo Adefarati, under the defunct Alliance for Democracy, but dumped the party for the PDP because of his governorship ambition.

“Having failed to realise his ambition under the PDP, his desperation moved him to LP under which he was elected governor twice.

“The same Mimiko is returning to the PDP as a result of obsession for post-second term benefits. Nigerian politicians are not statesmen because they have no character; all they want is power at all cost.”

As the campaigns for the next general elections will soon begin, Nigerians are watching whether the nation’s politicians will present their ideologies and manifestoes to the voters as they will be seeking their support.

Source: The Punch
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