Gbolahan Yusuf: Now That We Have All Defected

Defections are always a part of any multi-party democratic system. Even the creators of this system of governance always had and will still have party defectors. What however stands the Nigerian democracy out in this regard is the infinite rate of these defections, the limit in underlying reasons to selfish ambitions, and the intriguing drama that often surrounds the moves. It can easily be likened to the transfer window obtainable in the sporting world (except without a deadline day); the negotiations, the announcement, the public unveiling, all too similar.

The inter-party defections though had started long ago in the country, they came to unprecedented heights particularly since the formation of the APC, then a merger of opposition parties that would later grow so strong, it would afterwards unseat the ruling party, in a feat never previously achieved. If the rate of defections to the APC since the birth of the party were shocking, the influx rate since the party’s election victory will likely be killing. The party had through the President and its National Publicity Secretary advised members of the PDP to remain in their party after many had inquired about how the APC will retain its uniform progressive identity amidst sustained influx. Even if it was clear enough that the APC could not close its doors to outsiders, there were concerns about the party coming across as same old wine, only in a different bottle. Such concerns are yet unabated.

Since the ascension of the APC to take Aso Rock, the defections have been unending particularly in those states where elections loom (Kogi, Bayelsa, and Ondo notably). The severity of these cross-carpeting moves is perhaps best captured with reflections on the case of Bayelsa State for example-the home state of the ousted president and National leader of the PDP-where almost the entire PDP moved to APC, leaving behind the former president, incumbent governor and their stooges. While it is easy to chastise the opposition, the ruling party as well cannot continue to accept all and sundry and keep trying to make them look like “born-agains” once they ditch the umbrella for the broom, a leopard cannot change its spots. So therein lies the conundrum for the two major political parties in our polity, how does the PDP keep its members in the rebuilding process and how does the APC show that it is a party of progressives and not just anybody with a large pool of supporters?

On the 28th of March this year, Nigerians gave APC the job of ruling this country, but on that day, directly or indirectly, Nigerians also gave the PDP the job of opposing. One may be “juicier” but neither job can be abandoned in any breathing democracy. The chances of our democracy blossoming relate exclusively with how well both parties attend to the responsibilities saddled them by the people. In that regard, it was encouraging to see the APC advise PDP members to stay in their party, yes both parties do have a cat and mouse relationship but that advice is one the PDP members, must cling to tightly. If everyone leaves, the ship sinks. Sadly however, the PDP still seem in unfamiliar terrain with their new responsibility. The party has yet to call a National Executive Meeting since its ship ran into the Buharian icebergs, there were intense wranglings before getting the former National Chairman to resign, the race for the National Chairmanship is also now bringing up intriguing drama episodes. In all, the goats do not seem to be over their crave for yams, and the longer rebuilding takes, the harder.

The people had a choice between PDP and APC and went for the latter, so a situation where the APC comes off as inviting all and sundry, does not speak well of the ruling party as well. Even when the APC has not done wrong in accepting defectors, it must do more to convince the Nigerians who are seeing less and less difference between both parties. The recent disregard for party leadership in the National Assembly shows the many cracks that can arise when too many are allowed into the party, without a cogent unifying ideological basis. It got so bad, an APC member in the House of Representatives then asked publicly if there was any difference between both parties.

If rumors are true, Hon Leo Ogor of the PDP, a loud voice in the House of Representatives seems set to cross the bridge over to the APC also and the Ebonyi governor as well continues to play open romance with the APC and in recent times, such games have always ended one way. The more the PDP is weakened, the more the job of opposition is abandoned and once that balance cannot be achieved between the ruling and opposition, our democracy suffers for it. It is definitely something for our politicians to ponder on. What happens if we all defect?

Gbolahan Yusuf

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