Political Defections And Looming Implosion In APC | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Comment, Opinion

Political Defections And Looming Implosion In APC

Posted: Feb 17, 2016 at 12:43 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

The registration of the All Progressives Congress by the Independent National Electoral Commission on July 31, 2013 changed the nature and character of politics in Nigeria. It was the first time in the country’s political history that political parties would take advantage of the provision in our electoral law, which permits existing parties to merge. Section 84 of Nigeria’s Electoral Act 2010, as amended, stipulated the procedure for the merger of political parties.

Before the successful union of the Action Congress of Nigeria, All Nigeria Peoples Party and the Congress for Progressive Change into the APC, there were working alliances among political parties. These alliances involved a lot of horse-trading, including financial inducements and the sharing of spoils of electoral victories under the guise of government of national unity.

The creation of the APC was a fierce battle. The then ruling party, the behemoth called Peoples Democratic Party, did everything possible to frustrate its emergence. About three political associations laid claim to the proprietary of the party’s name and acronym. The matter even resulted in litigation. The doggedness of the founding fathers of APC was not in doubt. In spite of the PDP’s efforts to scuttle their dream, they soldiered on. They realised in good time, before the last general elections, that it would take allied political forces to dislodge the PDP, which had ruled the country since 1999.

In November 2013, a political earthquake occurred when five state governors from the PDP defected to the APC. They had earlier staged a walk-out at their party’s special national convention on August 31, 2013 to form the new PDP. The defection of Governors ChibuikeAmaechi (Rivers), Ahmed Abdulfatah (Kwara), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano), MurtalaNyako (Adamawa), and AliyuWamakko (Sokoto) can be said to have triggered the beginning of the end of the PDP as a ruling party in Nigeria.

Later, many of the party’s leaders abandoned it to join the APC. Indeed, by the time that the 2015 general elections came up, a significant number of the top ranking members of the PDP had moved to the APC. In fact, the PDP got the shock of its life when the Speaker of House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, cross-carpeted from the party to join the then opposition party in October 2014. Before the last general elections, the gale of defections had given the APC majority seats in the House of Representatives.

The PDP went into the last election like a deluded Samson who, after losing his phenomenal strength to the betrayal by Delilah, promised to go and fight the enemy of his country like before and ended up being captured and humiliated. The party met its political Waterloo between March and April 2015. It lost power at the centre and in the states, while the APC won the Presidency, had majority seats in the Senate and House of Representatives.

The APC also won 20 out of the 29 governorship seats contested in the April 11 elections, just as it clinched majority seats in the State Houses of Assembly. If anyone had thought that members of the PDP would join hands to rebuild the party after the electoral loss, they were wrong. The crisis in the party festered after the elections. Its chairman, Adamu Muazu, was forced to resign and thereafter, many bigwigs within the PDP embarked on another round of exodus to the APC.

When asked why they jumped ship from the PDP to APC, many of the defectors were quick to castigate their former party. They claimed that it was anti-development, anti-people and anything other than democratic. They distanced themselves from all the woes and negative tendencies of the party.

Meanwhile, many of these people who are now playing the victims are actually guilty of the unethical behavior and other shortcomings that they blame their political party for. However, they have to call a dog bad name in order to hang it. What the PDP defectors will not openly admit is that it is suicidal to remain in a political Siberia when others are moving to political Saudi Arabia. It is all pork-barrel politics. Politics, according to Harold D. Lasswell, is about “who gets what, when and how”. David Easton describes it as ‘authoritative allocation of values”.

Broadly speaking, people join politics for the realisation of certain aspirations. They include political and economic power. APC is the locus of these powers now. It is where the honey pot lies at the moment. Flies naturally will converge around honey; hence it is not out of place to witness the political pilgrimages from other political parties into APC. What these defectors want is a share of the proverbial national cake. You do not sing “Pass me not by gentle saviour” when sitting down. You’ve got to demand, push, shove, and shout to get a fair share of political and economic empowerment, especially where such opportunities are very limited. Having realised that the new ruling party has commenced sharing spoils of electoral victory, these ‘decampees’ are now positioning themselves to be able to benefit from the largesse. Also, some of them have joined the new ruling party for protection and to evade prosecution for crimes committed.

Some political watchers have suggested that the APC should close its gate to the pilgrims from PDP and other parties. That will be an infraction on the Nigerian Constitution. Section 222 (b) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria, as amended, said “No association by whatever name called shall function as a party unless the membership of the association is open to every citizen of Nigeria irrespective of his place of origin, circumstance of birth, sex, religion or ethnic grouping.” Since political parties are public organisations with free entry and exit, they cannot be discriminatory in their membership.

What I think the APC ought to have done, or could still do, is to get its decision making organ to come up with a resolution barring new entrants to the party from holding certain elective and appointive positions within the party and even in government. There should be a specific length of time that a member must have been in the party and actively participated in its activities, before (s)he can stand to contest election into its executive offices or to be nominated to serve in government.

If there are no stringent conditions laid by the party for members to enjoy certain privileges, then it is courting an implosion. It will be unfair to those who worked assiduously and conscientiously to build the party into an election winning platform within two years, if new entrants, who never worked for the electoral victory of the party, are allowed to take leadership positions within the party and in the country. The APC, I advise, must test the integrity of its new members before electing or nominating them for political leadership. A situation where new comers are getting appointed as ministers and nominated into ambassadorial and board positions is opportunistic and it will create bad blood within the party.

For political aides who, in a bid to impress their bosses, engage in verbal attacks on their principal’s political enemies, recent development should teach them to exercise caution and use utmost discretion in the discharge of their duties. As recent gale of defections has shown, in politics, there are no permanent enemies or friends but interest.

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