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Governors’ defections herald a galore of rumblings

By Jide Ajani

Whereas none of them would be willing to admit, the serial disgraceful acts of the political class have never ceased to further muddy Nigeria’s polity.  The latest in this is the seemingly spineless decampment of some state governors to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.

And instead of the joy of triumph, the caustic taste of bicarbonate appears to be all that the PDP is getting as political leaders in the affected states are grumbling.  But this report, rather than just blame those who have decamped insists that even the party from whence the governors decamped are not free of sin.

The conduct of the Republican Party in this nomination is a remarkable indication of small intellect, growing smaller.  They pass over…statesmen and able men, and they take up fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar —The New York Herald (May19, 1860), commenting on Abraham Lincoln’s nomination for president at the Republican National Convention

THE New York Herald may have been unfair to Abraham Lincoln, but 149 years later, Nigeria’s polity is not undergoing a period of small intellect growing smaller, what best captures what is on parade today is the atomization of intellect and a debauchery of sorts.

And whereas it is generally believed that the major problem with the country is its ruling political party, the PDP, the party itself has not done much to dispel that notion. But had it stopped at that, may be Nigerians would have been spared the ignominy of political debauchery.

But no! The PDP continues to up the ante in a direction that is at once dangerous and damaging. And so, three weeks ago, another state governor, Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State, joined the bandwagon of PDP from his Peoples Progressive Alliance, PPA – Alhaji Mamuda Aliyu Shinkafi and Mallam Isa Yuguda of Zamfara and Bauchi States, had blazed the trail in that order.

Govs Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Aliyu Shinkafi of Zamfara  State and Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State....defected to the PDP
Govs Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State, Aliyu Shinkafi of Zamfara State and Ikedi Ohakim of Imo State....defected to the PDP

The problem really is that being the largest political party, almost all the over fifty-something parties in the land simply ape the PDP in mentality, utterances and conduct. And so, when just before the 2007 general elections, the PDP went ahead with its brand of politicking which does not share, let alone guarantee any mode of internal democratic ethos, started its abracadabra in the selection of candidates for offices, the party was bound to disenfranchise many while at the same time, frustrating many an aspiration.

But because Nigeria’s polity is one with a million and one possibilities and opportunities, a politician who loses out in one party can always find space in another. And so, Yuguda, a staunch PDP leader in Bauchi  State, dumped the party and moved into the All Nigeria Peoples Party, ANPP.

Without primaries for the selection of its gubernatorial candidate, the ANPP simply handed its ticket to Yuguda – meanwhile, all those who had campaigned and canvassed for votes on the ANPP platform seeking to become its guber candidate had to kiss the dust.

Yuguda contested on that platform and won. Today, he is back in PDP, his deputy, Alhaji Gadi, who refused to follow him, was some 72 hours ago, impeached on grounds of misappropriation of funds.

In Imo State, what happened was not different. In fact, the PDP was so brazen that after the party’s guber primaries which Ifeanyi Ararume won, the party refused to give him the ticket.  Even after going as far as the Supreme Court, Ararume won, but the PDP then insisted that it would not field a candidate for the Imo guber elections.

Meanwhile, Ohakim, who had been muscled out of the PDP, simply turned to PPA where, again, just as it was in ANPP Bauchi, the Imo chapter of PPA disenfranchised its members seeking the same ticket and simply handed it over to Ohakim. Ohakim won on the platform of PPA.

Today, he is back in his old PDP, of which he is a founding member. Referring to the defection show of Ohakim, former governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, at the formal launch of the Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms, CODER, said: “One of them (referring to comments made by former President Olusegun Obasanjo) even said ‘we had an agreement that he would return to the PDP so we allowed him to win’”.

In Zamfara State, where the trail was blazed, Shinkafi did not leave anyone in doubt. Even before he was sworn in as governor of Zamfara State, the story was about town that he was on his way  to PDP. Today, he is in PDP.

In truth, the Zamfara State example is instructive. Immediately the move was consummated, the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, wrote to inquire into the modalities for the dissolution of the PDP exco in the state. One of the leaders affected by the dissolution quickly addressed a press conference where he lampooned Professor Maurice Iwu, INEC’s chairman, of undue interference in the affairs of PDP in Zamfara.

His argument was that the exco members affected by the dissolution (himself, inclusive) are not complaining and, therefore, wondered why it should be Iwu, who would want to complain. Today, however, there are some cases in court protesting the dissolution of the state excos of the PDP in some states (See next story). But the whole madness stems from the shambolic attitude of Nigerian politicians to the issue of internal politics in the parties.

From PDP to ANPP, to PPA and even the Action Congress, AC, Nigerian politicians have proved over and over that the issue of bread and butter is still the main game. For, how, in the first place would a leader of PDP jump into another political party on the eve of qualification to participate in a process and the new party hands such an individual its ticket to contest election.

Two things:  First, such a party simply disenfranchises its members who are supposed to contest and who had actually been preparing to contest for the ticket. Second is the fact that a defecting politician would always defect. Therefore, those who are complaining today that PDP is pouching may be doing so, forgetting that defection begets defection.

However, when Hilary Clinton pilloried Nigeria’s political class, a view reportedly supported by Muhammadu Buhari, that the political class is actually the problem of Nigeria, they were both speaking the truth which is self-evident. Hopefully, it is expected that Nigerians politicians would begin to learn to do things the proper way.


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