By Femi Aribisala
The PDP and the APC are not even yin and yang. They are Siamese twins. They are children of the same ugly mother.
If you have not noticed it already, a new season has dawned in Nigerian politics. That season is one of carpet-crossing back to the PDP. About a year ago, there was a rash of defections from the PDP to the APC. Nearly 40 legislators left the ruling party for the opposition. Five PDP governors also followed suit. But now the movement is a one-way trajectory in the opposite direction. APC members are having buyers’ remorse and are making their way back as prodigal sons to the PDP.
There are two basic reasons behind this. One year ago, the APC was the new party on the block. A simplistic political calculus led some to the hasty conclusion we finally have the party that would dislodge the PDP after 15 years of one-party rule in Nigeria. So some people quickly joined the APC bandwagon. But the more cynical reason was that the defections were designed to discourage Goodluck Jonathan from seeking re-election as president. The vain hope and expectation was that Jonathan would see the colossus ranged against him and throw in the towel.
One year is a lifetime in politics and these prognoses have become bankrupt. A new harsh reality has set in. The APC is now a shadow of its hype. Since the initial excitement, it lost Ekiti by a landslide and scraped through in Osun; two states presumed to be APC strongholds. In spite of considerable arm-twisting, including the nuisance value of APC Trojan horse Sule Lamido’s candidacy, Goodluck Jonathan is going to run on the PDP’s 2015 presidential ticket.
Short of the shenanigans of Attahiru Jega and his fictitious 30,000 new polling units, the APC does not stand a chance of defeating the PDP in the coming presidential election. The combination of these two realities is provoking a no-holds-barred migration back to the PDP.
As a matter of fact, once Jonathan finally declares his candidacy and is endorsed by the PDP, there will be a mass exodus from the APC to the PDP. Even before then, those who lose out in the APC choice of its presidential candidate will not waste time before making their way to the PDP. The movement will be massive all in one direction because in Nigerian politics the winner takes all. The one thing politicians are very good at is in reading the signs of the times.
Timber and caliber
What has happened over the last few months is that a procession of APC who-is-who has defected to the PDP. This includes Attahiru Bafawara, Brigadier-General Buba Marwa (rtd.), Ibrahim Shekarau, Femi Fani-Kayode, Ali Modu Sherriff, Jimi Agbaje, Nuhu Ribadu and Tom Ikimi. These people have read the writing on the wall and have discovered that, by hook or crook, the PDP is not going to lose the coming presidential election. Don’t be surprised if by next year, even Atiku applies to be re-admitted to the PDP, after he would have been shut out of the APC.
There were a lot of raised eyebrows at Nuhu Ribadu’s defection to the PDP. But what exactly was he supposed to do? There is no future in the APC for him. Ribadu served for eight years under the “hateful” PDP. As EFCC Chairman, he indicted Tinubu of corruption and called him a looter of public funds “of international dimension.” But then he ended up in Tinubu’s ACN where he was even comically paraded as the party’s 2011 presidential candidate; only to be traded off shamefully in a despicable act of political treachery.
Clearly, Ribadu cannot be APC’s presidential or vice-presidential candidate. Neither can the APC make him governor of Adamawa State. Since he recognizes that the APC is headed for defeat in 2015, that means the offer of a ministerial position in Abuja is out of the question. Neither can the APC make him the Nigerian High Commissioner to the Court of St. James as a consolation prize.
However, the PDP can offer him all but one of these juicy posts. So what would be the point of staying in the APC? None whatsoever! This kind of cold hard calculus will become increasingly evident to other APC politicians; the closer we get to the 2015 election. Just you wait; they will soon be jumping ship to the PDP in droves.
There is still only one political party in Nigeria at the federal level and that one party is the party in power. What is the difference between the PDP and the APC? Only one; PDP is in power at the centre: APC is not. Besides that, there is no difference whatsoever! They are not even yin and yang. They are Siamese twins. They are children of the same ugly mother. They are Jekyll and Hyde. They are two peas in a pod.
When the APC first emerged, some were excited that we would finally have a two-party system. No such luck! For the longest time, Nigeria will remain a one-party state. When you truly have a two-party system, you have two parties with different world-views. They have two contrasting and competing ideologies. Not so in Nigeria. Like people, like priest! The people are uneducated and so are the polithiefcians. They have no ideology, no policies and no vision. It is all about getting into power to get a piece of the national cake.
The APC touts Buhari as an anti-corruption icon. It says PDP is a party of thieves and robbers. But when did you hear the APC require those PDP governors and legislators it welcomed into its ranks to account for the money they stole while in the PDP? Never! It relies on them to bring the money. Murtala Nyako was impeached for corruption. Did anybody hear APC members say anything against his corrupt practices?
Boko Haram politicians
Suddenly, the APC is making a lot of song and dance about PDP’s Bunu Sheriff being labeled by Stephen Davis as a sponsor of the Boko Haram. But the same Bunu Sheriff was in APC for over a year until recently. Even as APC member, he was fingered as a possible Boko Harram sponsor, and the party took no action against him. Bunu Sheriff was not kicked out of the APC: he resigned.
At a meeting in the British parliament, chaired by John Glen, a close adviser to Prime Minister David Cameron, allegations were raised that key members of the APC in Nigeria are supporters and financiers of Boko Haram “for ideological and political means.” Early this year, British MP Andrew Rosindell questioned Foreign Secretary William Hague in parliament specifically on the question of the United Kingdom’s engagement with the APC over the Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria.
Nigerian political parties are much of a muchness. If you did not know this, the rash of defections to and fro is eloquent testimony. That is why Obasanjo can be the so-called Baba of the PDP yesterday, and today be invited by a high-powered delegation to become the Navigator of the APC. Kwankwaso can be elected governor of Kano on the platform of the PDP in 2011. But midstream in his tenure in 2013, he switches to the APC without any change in policy or ideology.
How many prominent members of the Labour Party in Britain have we ever heard defecting to the Conservatives? How many prominent members of the Democratic Party in the United States do we ever hear crossing the carpet suddenly to the Republican Party? Virtually none! The reason is that those parties stand for something and their members believe in what they stand for. However, Nigerian political parties stand for nothing. They believe in nothing. All they seek is to feather their nests while in office.
The PDP makes few principled pretensions. It is a party of thieves and robbers. It is a party of “come and chop!” That actually makes it endearing in a way. What you see is what you get. But lately, it has been trying to reform itself. There is now more internal democracy in the PDP, making for fewer spats.
The APC, on the other hand is a party of dissemblers. It calls itself a progressive party. But how do you have a progressive party that makes a point of collecting the “non-progressives” rejects of the PDP? How do you have a progressive party led by certificate forgers and insatiable land-grabbers with dubious unexplained wealth?
Nigeria political parties are Twedledee and Twedledum. They may go by the acronym ECN, or NEPA or PHCN; but the one constant is lack of electricity. As for Nigerian politicians, they are nothing but high-class prostitutes. The principled and upright ones, like Senator Udo Udoma of Akwa Ibom, are few and far between. Neither do they survive for long in politics. After eight years, Senator Udoma voluntarily called it quits. “The beautiful ones are not yet born.”
But take, for example, the current Governor of Imo State. He must hold some kind of Nigerian record for carpet-crossing. Okorocha was in PDP before he was not. In 1999, he contested for governor of Imo under the PDP. In 2003, he ran for the ANPP presidential ticket. When that came to grief, he returned to the PDP as President Obasanjo’s Special Adviser on Inter-Party Affairs. In 2005, he was a founding-member of the Action Alliance. By 2007, he was back in the PDP. In 2010, he defected to APGA and ran for governor of Imo State. Having become governor, he decamped to the APC in 2013.
Men like Okorocha who cannot stay in one place need to be placed under arrest. Okorocha’s jumps from pillar to post have one unchanging purpose: his unending search for politically greener pastures. If he does not secure the vice-presidential ticket of the APC at their coming convention, your guess is as good as mine if he will remain one day longer in the party. In short, at this stage of Nigerian politics, virtually all our politicians are self-serving. Far more than the people they misrule, they are the ones always looking for stomach infrastructure.