Pictures & Patterns

March 11, 2022

Defections and special purpose politics

One day, one trouble

By Adekunle Adekoya

There are men who desire power simply for the sake of the happiness it will bring; these belong chiefly to political parties.

— Friedrich Nietzsche (1844 – 1900)

In the July 9, 2021 edition of this column, I wrote about political parties being special purpose vehicles — a gathering of strange bedfellows coming together for one single purpose — the acquisition of political power, which grants them unfettered access to resources of the commonwealth to do with as they deem fit.

Whenever there is disagreement over the modus operandi, they change camps and defect to the faction of the power elite that is holding the levers of power. I concede the right of every Nigerian to associate or disassociate with any person or group of persons at any time he or she wishes to do so, but defections in the political arena in our country invoke the sublime, the ridiculous, and even the most obfuscating emotions.

One of the most ridiculous was that of a fellow who joined a political party, secured its governorship nomination, and went on to run two terms. He then jettisoned the party on whose platform he contested, and formed his own party.

He was almost being taken serious on the new political adventure when he defected from the party he founded. The fellow is still very much around, and in the senate now.

In the eye of the storm at the moment is David Nweze Umahi who contested to be governor of Ebonyi State on the platform of the PDP, and won, twice. A court just sacked him after the PDP took him to court.

In 2020, just a few months after winning his second term election, Umahi defected from the PDP to the APC. Earlier, he had been chairman of the PDP in his state; deputy governor to his predecessor, Martin Elechi, also of the PDP, before assuming the governorship. Last year, two more governors changed their parties. They are Professor Ben Ayade of Cross River State, in his second term, and Bello Mohammed, Matawallen Maradun of Zamfara, who became governor through the judiciary. Before all these, Dr Samuel Ortom, Benue State governor, had left the PDP for APC and came back to the PDP.

Umahi has a lot of predecessors on the defection train. Former vice-president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, has also been in and out of the PDP in his serial bids for presidential power. There will be no need to count the senators, members of the House of Representatives and members of state houses of assembly that have changed their parties: they are legion. How many people remember the Labour Party now?

I remember that this party attracted national attention when a former governor was bidding for power. After securing the ballot, he dumped the party and joined another one. Before I continue, let it be made clear that this is not about why people change their parties; that is their problem.

For me, since 1999, we have merely had what looked like political parties; in reality they have all operated like special purpose vehicles with a sole objective of acquiring political power. It explains why politicians don’t respect the laws and why elections are rigged. There is no defining ideology that drives any ideal the parties can espouse, except agbadas, peaked caps, and Ghana-must-go bags.

A former prime minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) once said: “There is no act of treachery or meanness of which a political party is not capable; for in politics there is no honour.” Friedrich Nietzche, quoted above, buttresses Disraeli’s assertion. No morals here, just money and power.

I will go further to say that there is no act of treachery or meanness of which a Nigerian politician is not capable, especially that of managing our affairs, in which they have failed woefully since 1999.

Even the legacies of the founding fathers on which the country rolled in the First and Second Republics have all been eroded, and Nigerians face the stark, grim reality of starting from the scratch.

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