By Tonnie Iredia
To a lay person, the term ‘theory’ sounds technical but in reality it simply refers to the idea of giving a title or name to an observable phenomenon for the purpose of explaining the relationships between concepts. More pointedly, theory allows people to explain what they see and to figure out how to bring about change. One inexplicable trend in Nigeria has been the frequent decamping of politicians from one political party to another.
Last Thursday, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, espoused a theory to validate his political nomadism when he decamped from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressive Congress. (APC).Those who listened to what Ayade said influenced his movement must no doubt have come to the inevitable conclusion that Nigerian politicians are independent candidates at an election with an option of belonging at the same time to all the political parties in the country.
One of the governor’s uppermost plans warranting his defection, wasin his words,to move Cross River State to the centre. Ayade was perhaps convinced that Nigeria’s centre is the APC. A confirmation of this was reflected in his declaration speech that he moved to the ruling party so as to support President Muhammadu Buhari. The governor’s theory is that any non-APC politician in Nigeria who wants to support Buhari to effectively handle the nation’s problems must begin by decamping to the APC.
Did Senator Abaribe and other opposition legislators hear Ayade’s sermon? What about those of us who are not politicians but who are willing to play patriotic roles to save the nation – do we have to first become politicians and then join the APC before we can qualify to contribute to nation building? The theory appears strange to the principle of collaborative federalism whereby different arms and tiers of government cooperate to ensure successful execution of public policy in the interest of the governed President Buhari was declared winner of the last Presidential election – a declaration that was presumed valid because it was made by the legally authorized body- the Independent National Electoral Commission INEC.
The law gave room for anyone to dispute the declaration through an election dispute which the appropriate body, the judiciary resolved in favour the APC candidate. Having exhausted the election process the winner became the President of Nigeria and not that of the APC. No one needs to belong to the APC to enjoy good governance at the end of the election. It is unfortunate that fake democrats who always behaved as if every government position, project or benefit including COVID-19 palliatives must be snatched by the APC have successfully convinced many people including some governors like Ayade that anything APC is what everyone must fight for.
Painfully some people in Cross River State may have been deceived into believing that with Ayade’s movement to the APC, their state might soon be added to the list of oil producing states. If there is oil in the state and she is unlawfully excluded from any benefit, the place to go is the judiciary, not APC except of course if someone has convinced Ayade that it is only an APC state that can win a case in our courts. But it is an open secret that the APC’s previous body language of “join us and your sins are forgiven” has changed.
Consequently, if Governor Ayade thinks that joining the APC could help cover-up any activity, he needs to be reminded that the man who used to claim to have power to forgive sins is no more in charge. Besides, there is nothing in the last six years of this administration in which the current President has assisted APC chieftains to escape prison terms.
What Ayade could gain or lose in the PDP will not be different from the fate that awaits him in the APC. At his declaration last week, the APC officials who received him assured the governor of becoming the leader of their party in the state. Was that not what he also was in the party he just left? If so, Ayade may not be fully certain of the game he has just entered into.
He explained on national television the other day that he moved with a large following from the PDP to the APC and that indeed, he left no one behind. We are tempted to believe that the statement is no more than a declaration speech because he seemed to have borrowed the template of Governor Dave Umahi of Ebonyi state who gave similar assurances some months back when he moved from PDP to APC.
Today, powerful Ebonyi PDP leaders like former Senate President Pius Anyim have since shown that Umahi was on his own. One can only hope that those who might initially move with Ayade would be more than his commissioners. But whether any of them would remain with him after his governorship tenure is a different ball game. In fact, there is no evidence that Cross River is now an APC state.
If we follow Nigeria’s electoral system that it is political parties and not their candidates that win elections, it is simplistic to say Cross River is now APC simply because the governor decided to defect from the party the people voted for. Is it good democracy for a governor to use his executive fiat to change the wishes of the people without due process? If not, Ayade may be his own problem because wise Nigerians know that PDP and APC are the same.
There is no real attraction in moving from one to the other especially if the condition for defecting from one party to another was not followed. Alas Ayade was not smart enough to create factions in the party so as to have valid reasons for decamping. An indigene of Cross River State told me a few days ago that what is happening now may not be the handiwork of a man previously known as Ben Ayade.
This viewpoint is premised on a sworn declaration once made by the governor that if after four years in office he was unable to complete his two legacy projects consisting of a 275km super highway at a cost of N648billion and a $2billion Bakassi deep sea port, no one should recognize him any more as Ben Ayade. With those projects still undone, should anyone bother about the change of party instead of demanding accountability? There are many more reasons why Ayade should be made to account for his stewardship.
Between 2016 and today, Ayade turned governance into comedy captioning his annual budgets differently without substantive progress in the fortunes of the state. Many would indeed remember him as the man with the budgets of deep vision; infinite transposition; Kinetic Crystallization, Qabalistic Densification and Olimpotic Meritemasis. Wait a minute, let’s recall that today’s article actually concerns the same Cross River state that Donald Duke between 1999 and 2007 fancifully inserted into the new map of the rising world economic order.
Oh yes, those golden years of the authentic Calabar Carnival; the innovative and colossal Tinapa Free Zone and Resort valued at N60bllion. Those were years of tangible economic gains when several flights indicated boom. Today, the world’s former largest forest reserve is no more; in its place are theatrical projects like the Spaghetti flyover and CALAVEGAS a new city that was to become the centre of tourism in Nigeria. Let us hope and pray that APC turns Ayade around.