By Omeiza Ajayi
It is no longer news that the high profile defections that have recently hit the ruling All Progressives Congress APC have now made it to try to evolve measures to ensure that it does not suffer any form of electoral humiliation in the forthcoming polls.
The party had earlier accused many of those who left its ranks of doing so because they realized that there was no guarantee of a second term automatic tickets for them.
But in what appears a move to stave off further defections and maintain parliamentary majority ahead of the general elections, the Comrade Adams Oshiomhole led National Working Committee NWC of the party might indeed be considering offering such tickets to federal lawmakers who have stayed put in the party in spite of all odds.
At the series of meetings with the lawmakers recently, it was gathered that the lawmakers pointedly told the national leadership to consider giving them such tickets as a reward for their loyalty.
In one of such meetings with Senators and members of the House of Representatives, the Deputy Speaker of the House, Yusuf Lasun said the easiest way for a politician to go into extinction was to get elected to the National Assembly “because when you put certain things in place at the weekend and return to Abuja for your legislative duties, by the time you go back next weekend, those who are permanently on ground in the state or your constituency would have dismantled whatever structure you were trying to build”.
“We are party members and I must say that I like the assurances of the chairman that members are not going to be abandoned because it is always very hot outside there. I have always told people that if you want to become part of the endangered species, come to the National Assembly. That is why whatever efforts we make while conducting our businesses while in the hallowed chambers must be adequately compensated for by the party”, he added.
Knowing that the party may not engage in any form of financial compensation to its scores of members in the federal legislature, what better form of compensation could there be than to ensure that they get the chance to be returned to the national assembly?
Issues with Govs must be resolved -Lawan
Senate Leader, Ahmed Lawan who also spoke in the same vein noted that the party would soon be conducting its primary elections and so, to guarantee the return of his colleagues back to the chambers, all issues in contention with their various state governors must be resolved by the party leadership. According to him, the party, by compensating the lawmakers would have proven to Nigerians that loyalty pays.
“This has been a season of defections, reflections, and sacrifices. This is a season of temptations. Most of our colleagues here have sacrificed friendship to remain where they are and to do exactly what the party wants. I am sure that this season is also a season of regrets because some of our people who left have already seen the real sign. Already those who have left are not finding it easy in their new homes.
“Every senator and House of Representatives member in the APC fold today deserves very gentle handling, good treatment. Some of them have stayed despite the issues they face either with their governors or their state chapters. That means that, as you have promised and we have seen the signs already, the party will ensure that all issues in contention are resolved and in good time.
Very soon we will be facing the primaries and so, I think that between now and end of the month is a very good time to resolve all the individual cases that are outstanding so that our colleagues will see and continue to feel that loyalty pays and disloyalty doesn’t. This meeting would have held with our governors present, but that is not to be. It is our prayer that you find an alternative arrangement so that we all understand that we are in this together regardless of whether you are in the National Assembly or in the state”, Lawan stated.
House Leader, Femi Gbajabiamila also expressed optimism that they would be rewarded for their loyalty to the party, particularly at this critical moment.
“I know that these members will be rewarded for their unalloyed loyalty to the party. We have 196 members in the house and that is about 40members more than the PDP. With that number, we can do the party agenda in the House. Even within the PDP, we also have some members who will join us”.
In what can be interpreted as a seal of approval, Oshiomhole said experience was required to work in the legislature, saying that the high turn over of first time lawmakers at every election was not too good for the country.
“Let me assure all of us that the National Working Committee is making this promise publicly and we are doing you no favour. Legislation and the legislature requires experience because nobody can give what he does not have. We see people like Senator McCain, when they speak, the American people listen.
High turn over of legislators is not a value to be celebrated. What we should celebrate is experience which cannot be read in books, but can only be acquired on the job. I want to reassure you that we will do everything possible to change the old narrative of heavy turn over every four years and the ‘politics of you have done enough, step aside’ will change over time for the good of Nigeria and for the maintenance of democracy.
“I want to reassure you that we value you; all the stories about people being denied or that you would be frustrated out, I want to assure you that our party values experience; our party values knowledge; our party values loyalty and our party will do everything possible to reward loyalty and demonstrate that loyalty pays and we will not be ashamed to do so. We are already doing so many things in our party but like they say, the taste of the pudding is in the eating. With time, all these shall come to pass and we would have kept our word as you have kept yours”, he added.
In making this pledge, even some of the lawmakers know that they would be a hard sell in their constituencies, not as a result of nonperformance which some can be accused of, but due to the internal zoning arrangement in those areas.
The constituencies are made of several local governments and even ethnic groups. Many of these people have a self-imposed method of picking their leaders and ensuring that every component part gets carried along. What the APC leadership is seeking to do would dislocate such longstanding arrangement. In trying to make political gains, the party could be on its way to suffering electoral losses in such constituencies as it is capable of encouraging protest votes. If the party however reneges on this plan, the lawmakers could look for way to exact their own pound of flesh on the APC before their tenure lapses. Either way, the ruling party has to chose the lesser evil. What this issue has again brought to the fore, is the faulty reward system of the APC. The ruling party must find an ingenuous way of rewarding loyalty and punishing disloyalty.