By Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR
It seems there will never be any end to the spate of political decampments in Nigeria, with the recent wave of mass defections or decampments from the major opposition party (PDP) to the ruling APC; the tide, no doubt, has turned against the PDP in favour of the APC.
Different reasons have been proffered as to why Nigerian politicians decamp from one political party to another. Suffice to say that the primary reason is the desire to satisfy their selfish purposes, rather than for the good of the generality of Nigerians.
Following the victory of the All Progressives Congress, APC and its Presidential Candidate, President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB) at the March 28 Presidential election, a wind of defections hit the camp of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The defection of high ranking chieftains of the PDP, Deputy Governors and State Commissioners, even when their bosses, the Governors, are still members of the PDP, has created a worrisome dimension and an unhealthy trend in the Nigerian democracy.
Mass defections in most cases occur when a political big wig defects from his political party to another. His political followers or hangers on are sure to follow him on his political sojourn. This leaves us to wonder what manner of political followers we have in Nigeria.
Those Who See Nothing Wrong With These Decampments
Some see nothing wrong with such decampments, while many, especially those who are decamping and those receiving the decampees, may not see anything wrong with this mass decampments.
However, we make bold to say that these decampments do not mean well for our polity. It has been said in some quarters that this on-going trend of most politicians, who are defecting from the PDP to the APC is a good omen of things to come, while praising the courage of the decampees. This set of analysts likens it to someone who has done something wrong and he later realizes that what he did was wrong and he desires to correct same.
It is argued this is better than someone doing wrong and does not want to correct it. One only wonders if what chased them from their former party (which is largely who gets what, when and how) will not also chase them from their present party in due time and season. And so the circle goes round and round again and again.
Those Who Perceive Everything Wrong With The Decampments
On the other side of the divide are those who are of the opinion that, given the immense role that the opposition is supposed to play in holding the ruling government duly accountable to the people, it is wrong for anyone who truly believes in democracy to celebrate the defection of those expected to form a strong and formidable opposition that would hold the incoming government accountable to the people.
It is no longer news to have Nigerian politicians move from one political party to another with an entirely different political ideology without batting an eye. One may wonder why a person who throughout his political career has been a socialist, makes a 360 degree turn to the opposite camp and become a capitalist over night.
Spate Of Mass Defections That Has Been Witnessed In Nigeria’s
1.On April 7, 2015, over 5,000 members of the Peoples Democratic Party decamped to the All Progressives Congress in Southern Kaduna area of Kaduna state. Prominent among the decampees were a former member of House of Representatives, Ruth Ango, former Commissioner and Attorney General, Zakari Sogfa, and 114 immediate past councilors from eight local government areas of the zone with thousands of their supporters.
2.On Wednesday, January 28, 2015, some prominent politicians who were members of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and have served in sensitive positions in both the last and present dispensations, are said to have defected with thousands of their supporters to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Plateau State.
They included, former Head of Service, Mr. Luka Fwangyil, former chairmen of Kanke and Kanam LGAs, Hon. Jurbe Gonzuk and Hon. Abdullahi Al-Baba Sambo, respectively, with Hon. Nuhu Gagara (former Commissioner for Information) and former Special Adviser to Governor Jang on Media, Hon. Dan Manjang as decampees.
Others included, former Commissioner for Environment, Hon. Nankim Bagudu, Hon. Na’Allah Mutbam, who was former commissioner in the Ministries of Industry, Agriculture and later on Special Duties, Hon. Joel Gwantau, (former Commissioner for Youth Development) Hon. Benard Dilkon (former PLAISEC Secretary), Barr. Zachariah Goshang (former PLHA Member, Kanke Constituency) and that of Wase Constituency, Hon. Lawal Wase, with one Hajiah Azummi Abdullahi, in that order, with almost all campaign Director Generals of gubernatorial aspirants who lost at the PDP primaries.
3.January 29, 2015, no fewer than 5000 PDP members in Asa and Ilorin West Local Government Areas of Kwara State were also said to have dumped the party for APC.
4.On January 14, 2015, a former House of Representatives aspirant on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in Edo State, Hon. Saturday Uwuilekhue-Idehen and the former Vice Chairman of the council, Hon. Samson Omoruyi, with hundreds of their supporters, formally decamped to the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Orhionmwon Local government area.
5.Sometime in January, 2015, an aspirant in the Nasarawa PDP governorship primary, Senator John Danboyi, among other top PDP members in Akwanga Local Government, led over 2,000 decampees from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) into APC’s fold.
6.Recently, precisely on August 15, 2015, Colonel Sam Inokoba (rtd), who, till August 15, 2015, was the Chairman of PDP, Bayelsa State, stunned all, when he led over 1000 PDP members to decamp to the APC, ahead of the December Governorship election.
He listed some of the reasons why he and others dumped the PDP as total failure of the party to deliver its electoral promises and dividends of democracy; primitive and undemocratic ways of piloting its affairs and insensitivity to the plight of its members and government officials. Others, he said, are apparent injustice and impunity endemic in the party and failure of the party leadership to resolve issues in the party promptly.
7.On March 14, 2015, Hon. Bashir Husari, a serving member of the House of Representatives, representing Gwale Local Government Constituency of Kano State at the National Assembly and also the immediate past APC Women Leader in Kano State, Hajiya Maryam Umar Kofar Mata, who is also the Special Assistant to the Kano State Governor on Empowerment Programme decamped alongside several of their followers.
8.On February 26, 2011 over 5,000 ACN members decamped to PDP during the flag off of the former Governor Akpabio’s rally in Uyo Senatorial District.
Calls To Stop This Spate Of Decampment
The spate of mass defections has become so worrisome that Nigerians on several occasions have called on the ruling APC to shut its doors against decampees. The National Chairman of All Progressive Congress (APC), John Oyegun, rightly advised these “come-and-chop” or “chop-i-chop” politicians decamping to the winning APC to have a rethink and form a formidable opposition to enrich the nation’s democracy.
The spate of mass defections in the recent time, in our democratic setting is not only a bad omen but it’s also capable of destroying Nigeria’s nascent Democracy and political development.
Some respectable Nigerians, including a veteran writer, Dele Momodu, have called on the ruling APC not to ”Ignore PDP Decampees who made the ‘Change’ a reality”. However, President Muhammadu Buhari has resolved to disappoint these “Politrician” moving from the Peoples Democratic party (PDP) into the All Progressives Congress (APC), vowing never to appoint anyone into his new cabinet. Buhari said he would not want any of the decampees to derail his plans to set up a government to be peopled by credible and tested hands.
Are the decampees, political elite and members of AGIP (Any Government In Power) reading, digesting and awaiting the next trench of this sermon in the Nigerian Project by Chief Mike Ozekhome, SAN, OFR?