THE GALE OF PARTY DEFECTIONS
The defections lend credence to politics without principles
The recent gale of defections from one political party to another by many of our public officials and aspiring ones is an affirmation that after almost 20 years of unbroken democratic practice, Nigerian politicians do not seem to have learnt any lesson. Instead of maximising the huge opportunities inherent in democracy to promote the culture of selfless service, good governance, institution building and improve the living standard of the people, most of those who preside over our affairs would rather pursue their selfish goals.
It all began on 24th July this year when 14 senators defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and African Democratic Congress (ADC). One of them returned to APC less than 24 hours later. The defection in the Senate was followed by the movement of 33 other members of the House of Representatives from the ruling APC to PDP on the same day. Since then, defections at both the national and state levels have been the norm with Senate President Bukola Saraki, Benue State Governor Samuel Ortom and his Sokoto State counterpart, Aminu Tambuwal and former Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio as the biggest defectors.
What theses defections have done is to make Nigerian politicians guilty of one of the seven social sins listed by the late erstwhile Indian leader, Mahatma Ghandi which is politics without principle. Indeed, many Nigerian politicians lack a sense of principle: not even the nation’s constitution or any extant law can put them under check whenever the game is against them. That is why there are some politicians who jump from one political party to the other every time the general election is approaching.
Indeed, what is disturbing is that most of the defections in recent times were done with sheer disregard to constitutional provisions. For instance, Section 68(1g) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) stipulates that a lawmaker can only defect from the party that sponsors his/her election without losing his seat if such a party has been factionalised. It is instructive that such factionalisation as established by the court when New PDP emerged from PDP in 2013 is not expected to be deliberately created for that purpose.
Against this background, none of the recent defections was predicated on justifiable division envisaged by the constitution. Whereas defectors in APC lay claim to the emergence of Reformed-APC as the basis for their exit, its manner of emergence was patterned after that of the New PDP which the court had rejected as a form of division.
In the past, there had been clear cases of factionalisation in some parties which could lend credence to defection. One was the fierce contest for the national chairmanship of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) from 2000 to 2003 when Mamman Yusuf and Ahmed Abdulkadir emerged each as the national chairman of the party from two different conventions. The other occurred when Chief Bisi Akande and Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa also emerged factional chairmen of AD in 2004. A similar situation in recent times was the emergence of Ahmed Makarfi and Ali Modu Sheriff both as factional chairmen of PDP.
However, a situation where Akpabio, for instance, dumped PDP for APC without any case of division currently in the party and was celebrated to high heavens by the APC-led federal government which ought to be the custodian of the constitution, underscores the degree of selfishness, hypocrisy, insincerity and lack of commitment of our leaders to democracy.
We appeal to our politicians to desist from the politics of expediency which has continuously hampered the growth of democracy in Nigeria since 1999.