In the past few months members of the political class have besieged the Nigerian political arena with a series of embarrassing defections from one party to another.
Perhaps Nigerian politicians have not known it. Perhaps they have never even thought about it. The truth is that these series of defections do not only make a mockery of the nation’s democratic evolution; in a very pathetic sense, they also degrade and humiliate the political class in the eyes of a civilized society.
They portray Nigerian politicians as a group of opportunists who have no clear-cut political ideologies and are only interested in power and the spoils of political offices.
But like I have always said: God is on His throne all the time. In this instance, it means that everything that has a disadvantage also has an advantage. All that concerned Nigerians need do now is to seek out those advantages and then allow nature to take its rightful position in their lives. If they play their part well, God will heal their land!
In the last few months, Nigerians have borne testimony to series of high profile defections that have made them raise their eyebrows in wonder. The number of politicians who have defected from one party to another in the current Republic is quite alarming. No one is yet considering defections at the lower levels, which in many states are daily occurrences.
Curiously, these defections have thrown up new challenges to Nigeria’s voting masses. They have presented an escape route for the electorates who, over these years, have seen themselves as mere victims of the whims and caprices of a mindless political class, and an even more mindless business community.
No section of the nation has been spared this reckless trend of migration from one party to another.
In the West, Ondo State Governor, Olusegun Mimiko, has defected from the Labour Party, LP, to the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP. Mimiko won the Ondo State gubernatorial elections on the platform of the Labour Party in February 2009. It was on this same platform that he was re-elected in October 2012 for a second tenure. That re-election made him the first Ondo State governor to win a second-term election.
Despite this, his defection to the PDP has been dogged with controversy. He is said to have had the backing of President Goodluck Jonathan as a Labour Party gubernatorial candidate and that after he had won, he was expected to join the PDP, which made his victory at the polls possible. And so, he has now joined the PDP.
Chief Tom Ikimi was a former Minister of Foreign Affairs during the reign of late General Sani Abacha. He was among the founding fathers of the now-defunct AC in 2006, and led the party to win the governorship elections in Edo State in 2007, and again in 2012.
When a mega opposition party became necessary to contain the excesses of the ruling party and was being muted within political circles, he was saddled with the responsibility of heading the Merger Steering Committee of the defunct ANPP, CPC, AC and a faction of APGA, which culminated in the formation of the APC. Then, he fell out with the leaders of the APC as a result of his inability to clinch the position of Chairman of the party. In August 2014, he defected to the PDP.
In the East, in August this year, Hon. Mrs Uche Ekwunife, the member representing Aniocha/Njikoka/Dunukofia constituency in the Federal House of Representatives dumped the All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA), for the PDP in the company of other APGA House of Representatives members. Uche Ekwunife and four other federal lawmakers and one House of Assembly member have been in the news for decamping from APGA to PDP.
Ekwunife and her coterie of carpet-crossers were not known to have been driven by any compelling ideology. The reason that her accomplices, Hon Victor Afam Ogene, Hon. Cyril Egwuatu, and Hon. Chris Emeka Azubogu gave was that they were dissatisfied with the handling of party affairs by the current leadership.
The immediate past governor of Anambra State, Dr. Peter Obi, ruled from Akwa Government House from March 2006 on the platform of the APGA. He was re-elected as governor for a second tenure from February 2010 to February 2014. He recently defected to the PDP. But his defection did not come as a surprise. Political observers had accused him on several occasions of politically romancing with the ruling PDP even as the APGA governor of Anambra State. His excuse is that he wants to work for President Jonathan towards his re-election in 2015.
Like his Anambra counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, the controversial governor of Imo State, won a closely-contested governorship election in his state under the APGA in 2011. Curiously, Owelle has been a member of almost all the political parties in Nigeria. At a point, he was a presidential aspirant. But in February last year, Governor Okorocha surprised many of his secret admirers when he took his supporters from a faction of APGA and defected to the newly formed APC.
Rotimi Amaechi, another controversial politician who became governor of Rivers State after a court ruling in October 2007 also joined the group of politicians, who defected late last year after his relationship with the wife of President Jonathan and later the President himself, irretrievably broke down following the controversial elections of the Nigeria Governors Forum, seen in many quarters as a powerful and very influential organization of governance in Nigeria.
Governor Amechi’s rift with President Jonathan lasted for months during which time conflicts and tension almost consumed Rivers State. Amaechi later defected to the APC.
In the North, General Muhammadu Buhari, a former military Head of State, is another man to watch. He is one man who has contested for the presidency three times and failed – and yet he is not satisfied with the yearnings and aspirations of Nigerian voters. In 2003 and 2007, Buhari contested under the banner of the All Nigeria’s People’s Party, ANPP, and failed.
Once, he contested under the umbrella of the now-defunct Congress for Progressive Change, CPC, which he founded in 2011 and failed. He is currently a member of the All Progressive Congress, APC, formed on 6 February 2013 to, hopefully, offer Nigerians a responsible opposition to the ruling PDP. The APC which was a merger of four vibrant political parties: the Congress For Progressive Change, CPC; the Action Congress, AC; the All Nigeria’s People’s Party, ANPP and a faction of the All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA has an eye on snatching power from the PDP in the February 2015 general elections. General Buhari is aspiring to contest for the fourth time in the February 2015 Presidential election under the APC.
Atiku Abubakar was Nigeria’s Vice President from May 1999 to May 2007. He has been a presidential aspirant since 2007. While he has his eyes fixed on how to get the highest political office in the land, he has moved from PDP to the now-defunct AC, and then back to PDP. Now, he is another presidential aspirant under the APC.
Rabiu Kwankwaso was governor of Kano State in 1999, but failed in his re-elected bid in 2003. Kwankwaso left the PDP for the APC claiming that both the Presidency and the party leadership failed to show him and his office respect.
Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was the foundation chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He was the presidential flag-bearer of the now-defunct AC during the 2011 Presidential election. He too defected to the PDP in August this year telling everyone who cared to listen that the pursuit of a “good cause” and not his selfish desires was his reason.
The list of defectors among Nigerian top politicians in recent times could go on and on, even from the ward level.
But come to think of it: Nigerians must open their eyes wider now, and see these series of carpet crossings for what they truly are. They are the elements God has used to throw up in their wake a situation that has presented Nigerian voters with a new challenge, a new opportunity that they must grab with both hands.
It is now time to forget about parties and their non-ideological bases and vote for independent candidates only.
Over the years, many incompetent moneybags, who lacked the capacity to manage public offices found themselves sheltered under party patronage and offered public offices because they belonged to one party or another. These public office holders ended up creating more problems for those who voted them into power than they solved while in office.
In other words, Nigerians should now organize through the social media to stop voting for parties and insist on voting for individual or independent candidates whose character they can vouch for and by whose track records they know can deliver on their electoral promises.
Yes. It will be a welcome revolution.
The way Nigerian political parties are managed these days leaves a lot to be desired. Sometimes the impression is that it is all about forming a cabal of moneybags who team up in their determination to bleed the country dry economically – a group of “ruling families” who have continued to dominate practically every aspect of the national economy since Nigeria had self rule in 1960.
They don’t care about the teeming population of jobless school leavers who daily roam the streets of our cities in search of jobs that are scarcely there. They don’t care about the quality of education of our children. They don’t care about how the majority of poor Nigerians live in the midst of the affluence of a significant minority.
They don’t care about steady, uninterrupted electricity supply which countries like Zimbabwe, despite all the economic sanctions imposed on them by the Western world, have come to take for granted. They don’t care about paying workers as at and when due. They don’t care how many of the nation’s under 12s are shamefully exposed to safety and health hazards while they hawk akara, bons, groundnuts, pure water, moi moi and such commodities on the streets of our busy towns and cities, trying to help their poor parents make ends meet. They don’t care whose ox is gored as long as they have their millions and billions to spend at will. They really wouldn’t care.
But God can make a way for His people, where there seems to be no way. Through nature, God has a way of showing His superiority. He has clearly created this opportunity for Nigerians to elect the true leaders who will bring back sanity to the country by them.
It is now left for Nigerian voters either to continue living in self-denial by voting along party lines or identify the opportunity these unreliable politicians have created for them and vote for only independent candidates in 2015.
Whatever it is, a people must always have the type of leaders they deserve. That is the sweet thing about the recent political defections in the Nigerian political arena. They have created the opportunity. And Nigerians must use the internet to organise themselves and quickly embrace this opportunity to right the wrongs of the past.
The writer of this article is Emeka Asinugo, KSC.