By Owei Lakemfa
WITH the military in power and General Sani Abacha on rampage in 1994, almost all theÂ professional politicians either worked for him or took cover; they tried to be out of sight as much as possible. Chief Ganiyu OyesolaÂ Fawehinmi who passed on last Saturday was not a professional politician.
But it was he who called the bluff of the military by asserting the fundamental right of Nigerians to form political parties of their choice. On Independence Day, October 1, 1994 he publicly formed the National Conscience Party (NCP)
After the military was forced out of power and other political parties were formed, Fawehinmi and the NCP contested the first elections at the local government level. Despite having fought so courageously to re-establish democracy and party politics in the country, he did not cross to any of the other political parties that became dominant.
His involvement in partisan politics was based on principles and the patriotic desire to serve the people. The same cannot be said of most politicians who behave like stray cattle grazing wherever the grass is green.
In the past we witnessed the occasional parliamentarian decamp, now it is a whole government; from the executive governor andÂ state assemblyÂ to theÂ local government councillor. It is like an epidemic; a variant of swine flu hitting politicians.
The main states affected in recent times are Zamfara where Governor Aliyu Shinkafi of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) bolted to the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP);Â Bauchi where Governor Isa Yuguda also of the ANPP ran into the embrace of PDP while Imo State witnessed Governor Ikedi Ohakim from APGA taking shelter under the leaking PDP umbrella.
Except for Shinkafi, the behaviour of the others tally with that of the new proselyte who in the drunken stupor of a new convert misbehaves. As prelude to his conversion, Yuguda married one of the Presidentâ€™s daughters before marrying into the PDP family.
Not satisfied that virtually all the political chieftains and thugs changed their ANPP clothes for the PDP regalia, he got impeached the Deputy Governor, Alhaji Gaba GadiÂ who had displayed uncommon courage and principle by refusing to defect.
Then Yuguda turned to the Boko Haram Islamic puritans and characterised them as â€œevil people (and) lunaticsâ€. For the new convert to the PDP faith, the fighters in the Niger Delta â€œ… are not people of Godâ€, they are â€œungodly peopleâ€.
For OhakimÂ who former President Olusegun Obasanjo revealed was actually planted in the Government House by the PDP, his betrayal of the alleged mandate of the people is in the interest of the people.
To demonstrate his absolute loyalty, he has decided to sack all lecturers in the Imo State University who are on a national strike perceived to be against the Yarâ€™Adua administration.
But what these deserters are doing is to grossly undermineÂ the party system which is the basis of the liberal multi-party system in the country. They therefore endanger the fragile democracy in place, betray their mandate and promote political prostitution in the country.
Since man is said to be a political animal, politics and prostitution are regarded as two of the oldest professions of humanity, but unfortunately most politicians in our country cannot differentiate between the two professions; they in fact behave as if both are interchangeable.
That is why you can meet a politician in the morning flying the flag of a political party, in the afternoon he is planning an elaborate ceremony to cross carpet with his â€œpeopleâ€ and in the evening, he switches party with a lot of funfare. All sides to this perfidy do not see the basic betrayal of the electorate who had been sold a dummy.
In a sense, the prostitute is more principled because while the politician plays harlotry, the prostitute in almost all cases does not impersonate the politician.
It is not that in other climes politicians do not cross carpet, but it is like leaving one lover or relationship for another and not likeÂ a prostitute jumping from one bed toÂ another for pecuniary reasons.
A major cause for this phenomenon of soliciting votes under false pretences (political 419) is the collapse of values, the absence of principles, paucity of ideas, the promotion of the individual over the collective, the mindless sharing of the national wealth exacerbated by the lackÂ of transparency and accountability.
If the votes count or the principle of recall had not been killed in these shores, it would have been possible to check this virus; but in most cases, the politicians do not need votes to be declared winners, that is the preserve of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as directed by the party in power.
The other face of political prostitution is that of the politician who is ready to get into bed with anti-democratic forces or who invites the anti people military to defile the democratic bed. These are usually desperate politicians who have lost out in the power game or feel marginalised in the process of sharing the so called national cake.
What is clear is that our democracy is too preciousÂ toÂ be left in the hands of theÂ professional politicians most of who like swine, cannot appreciate the worth of gold. We the people must take our destiny in our hands.