There have been a lot of political chants about "change" as well as "transformation" by the members of the All Progressives Congress and the People's Democratic Party respectively. They both form the two dominant political parties of the multiparty system practiced in Nigeria today. Nigerians have aligned themselves consciously as well as unconsciously with both political parties. It’s a welcome development given the history of apathy, distrust and negligence that has marred the electoral system over time. Suddenly, the electorates are becoming so vibrant; they have assumed their constitutional roles of being kingmakers. The recently concluded presidential elections that ushered in General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) is a political warning shot to all public office holders. It restored the power and dignity of the ballot box.
The hopes of Nigerians have been raised with the APC appearing out of the blues as messiahs of the masses. A careful research on the members of both dominant parties namely PDP and APC will generate the conclusion that the same people who have plotted the graph of backwardness of the country have only come under a new name to foster their nefarious acts. It’s still the same old story of the PDP being tagged as evil while some of their key members with questionable pasts are adopted by the APC for a new course. The predicted result is the application of the same old values and ideologies to a new political setting which presumably will yield the same outcome as we have had in the past.
In a developed political setting, political parties are founded on strong values and ideologies. Aspiring leaders that share in the same belief system and perspective will join the party that suits their political ideologies. In America today, the mode of operation of a democrat is different from the tactics and techniques of a republican due to the different foundational values inculcated in them by the political parties they belong to. In Nigeria today, the level of maturity of our politicians can be likened to a playground of kids who at the slightest quarrel or distortion of interests join another group to play with sands, kick balls or probably fiddle with insects. This is a blatant show of 'politics of reshuffling'. A case of the same old leaders putting the blame on political parties as if the political parties weren't pioneered by human beings. Human beings dictate the course of every organization. The destiny or development of the organization shouldn't be blamed on the organization as a non-living entity but all the members that made it up. The recent trend of constant defection even on the day of the election only shows the level of selfishness and unseriousness on the path of our so called 'leaders' the younger generation look up to. This is an expression of shame, lack of vision as well as conscience. It depicts the fact that our political parties are not bounded by different ideologies and the members can't boast of a single political philosophy that will guide their administrations when they get into office. The bitter truth is that defection has been made easier since the political parties and their members in Nigeria share a common dominant political ideology and philosophy which is the desperate will for political power as a gateway to wealth through massive corruption. This is a common endemic nature of man who loves to amass wealth indiscriminately while in a state of nature as painted by Thomas Hobbes before the state became regularized by governance.
The present practice is different from what was obtainable in the First Republic when leaders like late Sir Ahmadu Bello, the late Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe and the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the founding fathers of the nation, who were guided by ideologies with which they laid the foundation for the development of their regions and Nigeria at large. These were intellectual men of dignity that had a cause and formed a movement to pioneer it. Great men with the future of the country in their hearts. An ardent follower of politics in Nigeria who experiences coma in just a week might wake up to the confusion of who is who among the dominant members of the political parties due to the unrestricted madness of defection which should be curtailed. The motives and values of APC seem good but by admitting the 'bag eggs' of PDP to achieve an expectant development result is simply a fallacy. The motive behind defection is a far cry from the change needed by Nigerians at this crucial stage. The mode of admission by the competing parties only shows their desperation to amass supporters just to win political power at all costs. I will not be surprised if one party adopts the world-renowned terrorist and leader of the Boko Haram sect, Abubakar Shekau due to the unending number of fighters within his control which will numerically favour politics. This is simply an exaggeration but not really one in the real sense of it. To buttress my view point, let me showcase a short list of the defections and major political collaborations that have shocked the country. I wish to address the entire list but it will certainly make this article endless. I will just address a few cogent cases to drive home my points.
1. In 2011, Ex Governor Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano State contested for the Presidency on the platform of ANPP against President Jonathan of PDP. So did Nuhu Ribadu of ACN. Today, Ibrahim Shekarau is a Minister in President Jonathan's cabinet & a member of the President's party & Mallam Nuhu Ribadu is the PDP's candidate for governorship of Adamawa State. How many were killed because of them in 2011? I will give my readers a simple assignment of researching on the numerous criticisms of the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan by the former chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu. How did he just wake up from his political slumber? Real values don't change over the night or probably I should assume that President Goodluck Jonathan became perfect by magic over the night? That is not true. Nuhu Ribadu's defection was driven clearly by a selfish personal ambition. Towards the presidential election, he even had the guts to grant an interview to predict how Buhari will fail in his presidential bid. We all know the bond that ties the northerners who regard themselves as brothers. For Nuhu Ribadu to betray that bond, it shows he was up for a greater interest far from the general will of the masses/state.
2. President Obasanjo and Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu were thought to be sworn enemies. When President Obasanjo took over South-West Nigeria in 2003, Gov. Tinubu became "last man standing" against him in ACN/Lagos. Today, Obasanjo is Tinubu's "Navigator" & Tinubu was a treasured guest at Obasanjo's birthday. How many died believing they were enemies? That's a rhetorical question we can't answer. A record of criticisms and character assassinations went down on the newspapers. A lot of people got aligned and entangled in the rivalry. It is widely believed that Olusegun Obasanjo premiered the movie of rigging in PDP coupled with some failed projects like the National Identity card, Halliburton, power project, his rumoured indiscriminate financial interests in some telecommunication companies in Nigeria like MTN, his genocidal act at Odi etc but today he is with the party tipped for the positive wind of change in Nigeria. Is this not an indication of a continuation of the values of the past?
3. Former Governors, Engr. Segun Oni and Dr. Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti used to be political foes and now they belong to the same party. Both are alive as friends & some folks had died fighting for them.
4. Former Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola never saw eye to eye with Governor Rauf Aregbesola. Now, they belong to the same party, some people died for both. I can recall this bitter rivalry vividly. I was an undergraduate at the Obafemi Awolowo University then. The SUG president of my time, in the person of Comrade Akinola Saburi was arrested by the men of the SSS for standing against the claim of Olagunsoye Oyinlola that OAU students voted for him coupled with other issues relating to student unionism.
5. President Obasanjo was prepared to throw VP Atiku Abubakar out of Aso Rock. Who would have thought that Atiku would visit Obasanjo in Otta farm after all the political turmoil between them? Politicians belong to one big family. They have their interests at stake; do not die for them especially when you have nothing at stake. Atiku Abubakar seems to be pursuing a legendary status as a top 'political prostitute' in Nigeria. The good news is that nobody takes him serious anymore. Atiku Abubakar, the ex-Vice president of Nigeria from May 1999 to May 2007, has been a presidential aspirant since 2007. While pursuing the highest seat in the land, he had moved from PDP to the now defunct AC, then defected back to PDP and later to APC; what a journey. At APC, he lost the APC presidential primaries. His weak support of Muhammadu Buhari raised so many criticisms. He was accused of a divided loyalty, which became obvious when he held a secret meeting with President Goodluck Jonathan before the presidential elections in Lagos. He has been tipped to return to PDP. Even President Jonathan confirmed this in an infamous statement when he called the People's Democratic Party the home of Atiku Abubakar.
6. The case of the man with the mouth diarrhea Femi Fani Kayode. He defected from PDP to APC and then back to PDP. This act alone portrays him as someone of a questionable character. If the political parties in Nigeria were not that desperate and ready to win power by all means, one of the parties should have denied him membership. It was funny and shameful when APC released an old article written by FFK in criticism of President Jonathan during his time in APC, claiming he was an epitome of failure in all ramifications of the state. This same man became the campaign spokesman of President Goodluck Jonathan's 2015 presidential campaign. He pushed his luck too far revealing the dark secrets of the national leader of APC, Bola Ahmed Tinubu. He came up with outrageous accusations of his former party mate Muhammadu Buhari. He went as far as linking him with ISIS, Boko Haram, certificate forgery, health deterioration and plotting his disgrace at the international scene at Chatham House London. To mention but a few. One question will pop into your head, is FFK a computerized device that one can just install any program and let it run successfully? Nollywood needs a man like him to interpret challenging scripts.
7. The present Governor of Ekiti state Ayo Fayose is another case in hand. History has it that he defected to the People’s Democratic Party from the Labour Party in the past. Power interests caused him to leave again for PDP. He left for the ever-open doors of the PDP where he won as the Governor of Ekiti. This man posed more threat to APC than Goodluck Jonathan himself. He sponsored newspaper publications, childishly mocking the APC. He granted shameful interviews to attack the personality of Buhari. Most of the videos are on social media, he swore with his life that Buhari would never win the presidential election in Nigeria. He delivered all the 16 local government areas in victory to Goodluck Jonathan and heavily victimized APC members. It will amaze my readers that this great antagonist called Ayo Fayose was the first governor in Nigeria to congratulate Buhari on his victory even before INEC officially announced the election results. He recently shunned a meeting of PDP governors with President Goodluck Jonathan, raising the rumors that he could defect to APC. There is a strong rumor out there currently that Fayose sent some traditional rulers to beg APC's national party leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu. An imminent defection is close. Mark my words, Fayose needs support to remain as the Governor of Ekiti state, he isn't getting much from PDP. Hence, the need to get it elsewhere is an option.
8. Another notable figure is the Governor of Rivers state, Rotimi Amaechi. The controversial governor who became the governor of Rivers State through Court ruling in October 2007 after he was controversially substituted before the election also joined the train of politicians that defected to APC late last year after irreconcilable differences with the presidency that lasted for months amidst conflicts and tension that almost consumed Rivers state. Here is my sincere verdict on him. I quite admire his advocacy for change. His dedication to the cause of change is iconic coupled with the rumored N17 billion and many more financial proceeds which he used in supporting the candidacy of the people's messiah, Muhammadu Buhari. But it should be noted that he also is a product of the PDP termed as the 'anti-people' political party today. Nigerians are quietly wary of his historical antecedence especially in his deteriorated relationship with President Goodluck Jonathan. The reality whatever happened between both parties cannot be far from a conflict of interests. If indeed PDP is truly evil as it appears, then these defecting individuals one way or the other contributed immensely to the bad records. So in conclusion, what is the change they are clamoring? Probably the truth behind the 'change' slogan is the change of party. Under normal circumstances, the same set of nonchalant company workers over time with the same orientation of lacklustre attitude will always come up with the same poor results no matter the trial opportunities given to them. Bad vessels contaminate good contents.
Dear readers, I am a big supporter of APC, a die-hard fan of Muhammadu Buhari but is this the reality of the CHANGE? This tastes like the same old wine but in a different golden bottle. Same old poison but in the container of a potent medicine. What difference does it make in the real sense? The appearance maybe different but the output is the same.
This can be likened to a game of football. Coach Rafael Benitez during his Liverpool FC days almost employed the services of the armed forces to defeat Chelsea FC due to the high level of bitterness but in the year 2012, He was appointed as an interim coach at Chelsea with a dim hope to retain him. Dutch striker Robin Van Persie was the front man in Arsenal for years, but this same man under the banner of Manchester United dented the champions league hopes of the club in recent times. In truth, we are following the same old leaders; the difference is simply the name and a couple of new political players with clean records like Professor Yemi Osinbajo. The Masses are just middlemen taking the pains while politicians sit back to re-strategize and secure their interests.
What about the case of Tom Ikimi? He was a force to reckon with in APC. Due to an unfulfilled of his personal ambitions as against the general will of the people he fronted with, he decided to move on. Even before he planned to dump the APC, Nigerians had expected that the former Minister of Foreign Affairs during the regime of the late Gen. Sani Abacha, Chief Tom Ikimi, would soon return to the PDP following his failure to realize his ambition of clinching the APC’s national chairmanship slot. Ikimi, who is believed to have no particular conviction, had also traversed the defunct APP, ANPP, ACN and APC.
APC 's clamour for change has been very effective and impressive. It will shock you more that some of the key-founding members of APC that instituted the merger between CPC and APC have long defected to the PDP, which they once abhorred so much and publicly lambasted. The former governor of Kano State, now the Minister of Education, Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau, who dumped the All Progressives Congress in January last year for the Peoples Democratic Party alongside the former Sokoto State governor, Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa. And also, the former Governor of Borno state Alimodu Sheriff who has been heavily linked with the Boko haram insurgence left for PDP from APC. At the accusation of a link with Boko haram, the leadership of the APC had a free day in using him to get at the conspiracy behind the suspected governmental support for Boko haram in Nigeria but it should be noted that he was from APC. I am pretty sure he will meet an open door if he ventures to return to APC. From my analysis, you will realize that the only thing that is not defecting is the name of the party. Individuals are cross-carpeting like it’s the football transfer market. The common lie is that the defection was made in the interest of the country. Don't be deceived, the term 'country' in their own dictionary means their 'pockets'.
In less than 48hrs to the presidential elections, the deputy Governor of Rivers state, Tele Ikuru defected from APC to PDP. Shockingly, on the day of the election, late chief MKO Abiola's daughter, Hafsat Tundun Abiola and another eminent figure defected from PDP to APC. This is a dance of shame. This is the climax of unseriousness and sabotage. It shows they never had a stand. And this people have followers that look up to them. Governor Rotimi Amaechi of recent welcomed back all the PDP decampees back to APC and a handful of people came out to pick up their APC membership cards. Politically, it seems like good news to APC because politics is a game of numbers that help build support. But weighing the gravity of this event from the developmental sense will give you the conclusion that the decampees are only desperate and hungry people using politics to struggle for survival. They are of little or no value to nation building and development.
On an ending note, I love APC, I love the spirit, I love the actors and I cherish with anticipation the current feeling in Nigeria politically. They have given dignity to the ballot box. I hope we Nigerians get our desired long-term wishes. I hope the change slogan is not a newly devised strategy to cajole people. The blood of the slain 56 members of the APC in River state, the INEC ad hoc staff killed in Edo state, the blood of the courageous individuals that touched the ground in their quest to vote after an attack by member of the Boko haram sect in Gombe state and other lives lost to the presidential elections shouldn't be in vain. They heard about the change, they hoped for it but never lived to see it. They are our heroes. Lets honor them by taking Nigeria to the summit.
God bless Nigeria.
Osayimwen Osahon George
Online Editor and Political Scientist (M.sc)
Jetheights Services Limited