Tuesday Column By VICTORIA NGOZI IKEANO
[email protected] | 08033077519
A third wave of defections of high-profile politicians has hit the polity. In the first and second waves, the decampees were directly and indirectly wooed to cross over to the APC. For this third one, those cross carpeting are the ones somehow, lobbying political parties to embrace them. Moreover, the on-going gale of defections cut across the two major parties. Recall that we witnessed the first mass decamping since 1999 return to civilian rule when a number of governors, senators and House of Representatives members turned their backs against their ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to join the newly formed APC, in 2014. That singular mass defection of PDP chieftains was considered a master stroke that upturned the political apple cart and changed the political equation. It was part of the reason why a new party as APC defeated a ruling party that had been on the saddle for 16 years and why Mohammadu Buhari triumphed at his fourth attempt to become president. The new party, APC, was an amalgamation of ANPP headed by Ogbonnaya Onu, ACN led by Tinubu, Buhari’s CPC and a faction of APGA headed by Rochas Okorocha, all of which are now defunct having collapsed into one party.
APC has been the ruling party for seven years now. Its immediate past chairman, Governor Mai Mala Bunu has as one of his singular achievements, the ‘capture’ of three sitting PDP governors for the party. They are Zamfara state’s Bello Matawalle, Ben Ayade of Cross River state and Ebonyi state’s Dave Umahi. Interestingly, both Ayade and Umahi are now contesting for APC’s presidential ticket. However, the PDP was so irked by their defections that they prayed the courts to remove them from office for “trading off” the mandate that they got on PDP platform. An Appeal Court ruled otherwise. For now, both Governors Ayade and Umahi remain in office until end of their tenure on May 29, 2023 while Matawalle is seeking re-election as his new party’s governorship candidate. Of course, these governors defected en mass with their loyalists, to their new political home, the APC. That was the second gale of defections. There were even rumours of more governors jumping ship. Remember too, that shortly before the November, 6 2021 governorship election in Anambra state, the state deputy governor and many House of Assembly members decamped from APGA (the ruling party in the state) to the APC. Thus, again, APC was beneficiary of this second gale of carpet crossing that involved governors, a deputy governor and a host of others.
Now comes a third wave of high-profile defections that even involves APC members. Significantly too, this third gale is coming just after parties’ primary elections; indeed, it is a fallout of the primaries. In the aforementioned first two waves, the decampees crossed over after being wooed like a beautiful bride. In the current third wave, the defectors are more or less forced to jump ship, having lost out in the primaries; it did not come from their heart, not totally their volition. More significantly, unlike the first two mentioned gale of defections, the decampees are the ones shopping for political parties to cross to rather than the parties lobbying them to come over. In fact, a party is said to have rejected one such defector who sought to join them. One-time deputy senate president Ike Ekweremadu who was not favoured by the PDP governorship primary in Enugu state and so left the PDP, was allegedly turned back by APC when he sought shelter there. He was apparently still shopping for where to pitch his tent. Latest reports has it that he has decided to stay put in PDP and to wit, has abandoned his govership ambition for now.
Obviously, there is no shortage of parties these later-day decampees can join given that there are no fewer than 18 political parties recognised by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But it appears these people are looking out for parties that already have some perceived electoral value to hitch on to. It matters not or matters little to these present defectors if their new party aligns with their political philosophy, ideology. Former Anambra governor, Peter Obi, a bourgeoisie to all intents and purpose, de-boarded the PDP for the Labour party which should be a socialist party, at least on paper. In Nigeria though we cannot identify any party with a particular ideology. We cannot have wholly conservative or wholly socialist parties because Nigeria is a mixed economy state. At best we can and should have political parties that are a little to the left or a little to the right, the two continuum. PDP (a seemingly conservative party) would belong to the latter and APC (perceived progressive party) to the former. All our political parties are the same, difference among them being same as six and half a dozen; which is why our politicians jump in and out of parties at the slightest mishap to pursue their personal interests. Only very few of them can be described as a ‘party man’ or ‘party woman’. That is, one who sticks to the party or political ideology from cradle to grave….
Among the later-day decampees is Senator Adamu Aliero. He resigned from the APC after a political fight with the man that succeeded him as governor of Kebbi state, Abubakar Bagudu, who also doubles as chairman of the Progressive Governors’ Forum. That clash saw him edged out from that party’s senatorial primary. Senate minority leader, Eyinnaya Abaribe also withdrew from the PDP Abia state gubernatorial primary at the 11th hour, decamped from it and is now frolicking with APGA. A one-time Ekiti state governor, Segun Oni had defected to SDP after he failed to clinch APC’s governorship ticket for the election slated for this June 18. Governor Makinde of Oyo state has picked Bayo Lawal as his running mate for the 2023 election, thereby dumping the current deputy governor who accordingly then defected from the PDP to APC. Incumbent Senator representing Edo North left the party after former APC chairman Adams Oshiomhole was declared winner of the primary.There are many other instances of cross carpeting. Those mentioned in this piece are just a sample. There shall be more high-profile defections, resignations from the APC after or just before its presidential primary election this week.