In spite of the staggering allegations of ineptitude and or non-performance by the opposition against the ruling All Progressives Congress-led federal government, the spate of defection to the ruling APC is curious, writes Olawale Olaleye
To say that the ‘real political season’ is here is to simply admit it is the period when ‘everything goes’. It is a season when morality is relegated considerably and inordinate motive, not just takes the centre stage, interest too is seen to override all other factors. The last few weeks have confirmed this assertion, if some of the political developments so far are worth anyone’s time.
Obviously a political atmosphere that is devoid of any distinctive ideological make-up, the spate of defection witnessed in the last few weeks have shown that the journey to a genuine democratic destination isn’t just undulating, it is even mired in confusion and uncertainty, orchestrating a constant state of confusion. Although it is a fad identifiable with the two major parties, that there are more people surging towards the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) than the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is evident.
Whilst the defection to the PDP can pass as commonplace given how poorly the APC is believed to have since played its game – talk about governance, politics or even leadership – the attraction to the ruling party is still a mirage hence the assumptions that have thrown up different theories.
However, to understand why the defection spree to the APC has elicited more concerns to the observing public despite the allegations of ineptitude, poor and uninspiring leadership against it, a run-through some of the names of those who had so far joined the party would suffice.
Weeks ago, the following people joined the APC and swelled the number of those already in the party. They are former Minister of State for Defence, Senator Musiliu Obanikoro; former governor of Oyo State, Otunba Adebayo Alao-Akala; former Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin; former Taraba State acting governor, Sani Danladi, and a former governorship hopeful in Abia State, Mr. Uche Oga.
But long before these ones above joined the APC, those below had since switched camps. They are former Edo State governor, Osarhemen Osunbor; Edo State PDP governorship candidate, Maj-Gen. Charles Arhiavbere (rtd); Senator Gbemisola Saraki; Ondo State gubernatorial candidate in 2012, Dr. Olusola Oke; Jigawa State deputy governor, Ahmad Mahmud; Brigadier Gen Chris Onja (rtd); former Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Michael Aondoakaa; Oyo State PDP stalwart, Mrs. Ayoka Lawani, and the Majority Leader, Gombe State House of Assembly, Hon. Mamman Alkalio.
Also in APC are the mother of a former Abia State governor, Eunice Uzor-Kalu, and his son, Orji Uzor-Kalu; former member of the House of Representatives, Hon Nnanna Uzor-Kalu; former Chief of Staff to former governor Theodore Orji, Mr. Mascot Uzor Kalu; legal adviser to the outlawed Ombatse Militia Group, Zamani Allumaga; former Deputy Senate Majority Leader, Jonathan Zwingina; former Minister of External Affairs, Idi Hong; Senator Bello Tukur, Senator Ahmed Barata, a prominent PDP Chieftain, Sadiq Haske and a former military governor of Kaduna and Katsina States, Gen. Lawrence Onoja.
Further captured in the list are a former PDP governorship aspirant in Benue State, Dr Mathias Oyigeya; former Chief of Staff to Senate President David Mark, Chief Agbo Oga; former Benue PDP Chairman, Chief Mike Iduma; former Benue PDP Chairman, Major Lawrence Ugbo; former member of the Benue State Executive Council, Peter Ochijele; a former governor of the old Anambra State, Jim Nwobodo; former President of the Senate, Senator Ken Nnamani; former Enugu State governor, Sullivan Chime; and a former speaker of the Enugu State House of Assembly, Eugene Odo.
Other prominent faces in the APC from the PDP are Senator Andy Uba; former Senators Ifeanyi Ararume, John Nwanunu, Nkechi Nwaogu, Fidelis Okoro, Chris Agboti and a member of the House of Representatives, Tony Nwoye. Currently believed to be identifying with the APC are businessmen Emeka Offor, Ifeanyi Uba and the owner of Peace Mass Transit, Sam Onyishi.
Done looking at the list? It is natural and justified to ask: what therefore is the attraction to APC? There have been various theories propounded as to what could be responsible for the rush to the APC. These theories, for emphasis, are conceived against the reality of the rating of this present government, which many reckon has fallen short of expectations in terms of meeting with its electoral promises to the people, predicated on the tripod of security, economy and corruption.
First is the theory of security. It is believed that a majority of those rushing to the APC are of the view that the government of the day could come after them for one thing or the other, especially the perception that the government has shown gross bias in the prosecution of its war against corruption. Whilst the government has been accused of sometimes shielding some party members from prosecution, it has been aggressive in the pursuit of opposition members accused of corruption.
This is why a majority of those in the opposition were believed to have come up with the defection idea with a view to seeking refuge under the ruling party. This does not mean that some of the allegations often raised against members of the opposition are truly founded, but because the government and its agents had displayed lack of respect for the rule of law as regards court orders, the need to seek protection became expedient and the only viable option is pitching tent with the ruling party.
Unfortunately, this has rubbed off negatively on the ruling party as one of the three cardinals of the administration, which is stamping out corruption from the system, has suffered a huge setback. And the fact that the moment they joined the party, all their troubles seemed to go away has further lent credence to the swirling allegations of double standard in the fight against graft.
There is a second theory which addresses the factor of survival. A majority of those in government and politics do not have a second address. What this means is that politics is all they live on. For these nomadic set of people, pitching tent with the ruling party is their stock in trade. It is even worse under Buhari with an economy that is just coming out of recession, nothing else works outside of government, which itself is not as attractive as it used to be. So, compulsorily the need to join the ruling party is a reality that daily stares them in the face.
This factor does not leave out some businessmen who are politically inclined. For this set of people, their businesses thrive because they can influence many things by ingratiating with the government of the day. And where they differ, they fear that policies that can suffocate their business may be instituted and that could mean serious trouble for them and their financial standing.
The other factor is ambition. Apart from protection and survival, some of those siding with the APC want to seek one political office or the other and as members of the ruling party, they would be better protected since their ambition or being in office is to the glory of the party. With a strong platform and the possibility of deploying other state resources and institutions to effective use in an election, the decision to join the ruling party becomes the most sensible and worthwhile thing to do.
But pause a moment and ponder the factors: which of them is inspired by patriotism or a sincere resolve to move the nation forward? It is difficult to tell. With a government which has continued to give excuses for not fulfilling some of its electoral promises, the spate of defection to the APC is suspect and should disturb anyone, who sincerely cares about the Nigerian project.