February 1, 2020
By Olukorede Yishau
The Labour and the Conservative are the two political parties that have decided the fortunes of the United Kingdom for time immemorial. In the United States, the Republican and the Democrats dwarf other parties to swing the American pendulum whichever way they want.
In my almost 42 years on earth, I am yet to hear that a Conservative member defects to Labour or vice versa. I have also not heard the same of a Republican or a Democrat.
In Nigeria, our democracy is patterned after the U.S. and the UK. It is a variant of what obtains in both nations. But that is where it all ends. In the main, our party system is unique to us, in an abnormal way. It is difficult to discern the ideology or principle behind our political parties. The only glaring thing is the desperation to grab power.
You will understand the madness called Nigerian politics if you take a trip with me to Imo, the eastern heartland, where for eight years Owelle Anayo Rochas Okorocha was the ‘commander-in-chief’.
Less than a month ago, everything revolved around Emeka Ihedioha, ex-House of Representatives deputy speaker. He was governor until the Supreme Court pulled the coveted seat off his buttocks and asked Hope Uzodinma to sit pretty. Uzodinma is of the All Progressives Congress (APC), which prides itself as our version of the Democrats. Ihedioha is a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), our supposed version of the Republican.
As at the time the apex court severed Ihedioha’s ties with the Imo Government House, the APC had no member in the House of Assembly. By Tuesday, the party has attained the status of majority. Thanks to politics without principle and ideology.
Imo State House of Assembly Speaker Collins Chiji and six other lawmakers, including Majority Leader Chigozie Nwaneri, defected to the APC from the PDP on Tuesday. Their defection brings to 18 the number of APC lawmakers in the 26-member House. It is a classical case of from zero to hero!
The Speaker announced the defections during the 15 minutes plenary. It ended after the names of the defectors were unwrapped. The brand new APC members are Uche Ogbuagu (Ikeduru), Dominic Ezerioha (Oru West) Chigozie Nwaneri(Oru East), Kanayo Onyemaechi (Owerri West), Kennedy Ibe (Obowo) Onyemaechi Njoku (Ihitte/Uboma) and Eddy Obinna (Aboh Mbaise), who represents Ihedioha’s constituency.
A day before, a move, which queries the ideological credential of our politicians, saw Imo State PDP Chairman Charles Ezekwem joining the APC. It is like collapsing the house. His resignation from the PDP came at a time when Ihedioha is trying to get the apex court to review and reverse its judgment making Uzodinma the governor.
Ezekwem unashamedly said his decision to join the winning team was caused by the prevailing circumstances in the PDP. For me, this is another way of saying his decision was caused by the politics of survival. Four years is a long way to stay in a party out of power.
”Given the prevailing circumstances within my party, vis-a-vis my present standing as the state chairman of the PDP, and after due consultations with my family and with the approval of my supporters, I hereby tender my resignation as state chairman of PDP.
“I thank the teeming population of Imo State PDP who thoughtfully elected me as their state chairman.
“I sincerely regret the inconveniences the party faced. I thank the party for the support they gave me and the opportunity to serve in that capacity,” he said without an iota of shame.
Like Ezekwem, PDP Deputy National Auditor Regis Uwakwe has also found his way to the APC following Uzodinma’s ascension to power.
On January 21, Okey Onyekanma resigned as Imo Deputy Speaker. He quit the day nine members of Action Alliance, PDP and the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) defected to the APC. The defectors are Chyna Iwuanyanwu (Nwangele, PDP); Innocent Egwim (Ideato North, AA), Chidem Emelumba (Okigwe, PDP); Obinna Okwara (Nkwerre, AA) and Paul Emeziem Onuimo, APGA). Others who defected on January 21 are Ekene Nnodumele (Orsu, APGA); Duru Johnson (Ideato South, AA); SN Obiefule (Isu, AA); Herculus Okoro (Ohaji-Egbema, PDP).
Will we ever get our politics right? Will there ever be ideological bend to our politics? Will there ever be distinguishable conservatives or progressives in our political space? Will our elected officials ever obey the law as it concerns defection?
The Constitution does not forbid defecting from one party to the other, but the condition has been made clear enough by the courts. For a House of Assembly member to defect legally, there must be a crisis in the defector’s party at the state level and for a federal lawmaker; the crisis must be at the federal level. Please tell me what crises are there in AA, APGA and PDP that has led to its members in Imo dashing their mandates to the APC.
The defections are not surprising. If there is anything special about it, it is the speed with which it happened. I was expecting it some months after. The magic that has made it this fast deserves to be studied for a doctorate dissertation.
After every election, the winning party always receives defectors and during electioneering periods, disgruntled elements also kiss their parties bye-bye.
Aside defections, the joke in Nigerian politics also shows as indiscipline. The dramas of the last general elections demonstrate this better.
Okorocha wanted his son-in-law, Uche Nwosu, to succeed him. He fought his party to almost a standstill. When it was glaring that APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole was never going to allow Nwosu to have the party’s ticket, Okorocha got him AA’s ticket. This was at a time Okorocha was running for Senate on APC’s ticket.
Senator Ibikunle Amosun, who was Ogun State governor, was also running for Senate on APC’s ticket but supporting the governorship candidate of another party openly. He even took the candidate to the presidency. The party’s rally in Abeokuta saw stones being thrown at the podium on which President Muhammadu Buhari was speaking. It was a shame at its highest.
Amosun, who, though succeeded in his bid to become a senator, lost his gamble to have Adekunle Akinlade as Ogun State governor. Dapo Abiodun, the man he fought tooth and nail to thwart his bid to be governor, is the new landlord in Oke-Mosan. Akinlade and his supporters interestingly claim they are back in the APC.
Nothing gladdened my heart than the fact that Okorocha and Amosun did not succeed in their bid to prove that they were more popular than their party— the vehicle which took them to the government houses. If the duo had gotten away with their anti-party activities and install candidates who ran on parties other than APC, they would have started seeing themselves as tin-gods. Now, they are lost gods!
My final take: Will we ever get our politics right? Will there ever be ideological bend to our politics? Will there ever be distinguishable conservatives or progressives in our political space? Will our elected officials ever obey the law as it concerns defection?