History of Nigeria political parties and the culture of carpet crossing
Since independence, Nigeria politicians have been hopping from one political party to another just to bring fulfilment to their political desires
As a matter of fact, it is almost impossible to talk about the history of Nigeria political parties without the mention of carpet crossing, because the movement of politicians from one party to another was first showcased by the First Republic politicians.
It is important to state here that the First Republic was the republican government of Nigeria between 1963 and 1966, governed by the first republican constitution.
But the first political parties that constituted the First Republic were formed, four years before Nigeria became a republic.
It was shortly before the country’s independence in 1959. And they include the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroons (NCNC), the Northern People’s Congress (NPC), and the Action Group.
The newly formed political parties were led by Nnamdi Azikiwe, Ahmadu Bello, and Obafemi Awolowo respectively.
When the 1959 elections were held, none of the three political parties was able to win the majority. And this led to an agreement, which would result in the merging of the NPC and the NCNC to form the national government.
Tafawa Balewa would become the prime minister and Nnamdi Azikiwe, the Governor-General.
Three years after independence when the country became a republic, Nnamdi Azikiwe was made the president and Tafawa Balewa maintained the office of the prime minister.
In that same year, a national census would be conducted but the result was believed to have favoured the Hausa-Fulani over every other people in the country.
This did not augur well with the Igbos and with dissatisfaction, the NCNC pulled out of the union.
They decided to join a faction of the AG and formed a new political party - the United Progressive Grand Alliance (UPGA). It was led by Obafemi Awolowo.
While the other part of the split group, the NPC, formed an alliance with the other faction of the AG and created a new party.
They would call it the Nigerian National Democratic Party (NNDP). And it was led by Samuel Akintola.
The Second Republic would not come until 1979, after the Biafra War and series of military coup, which the assassination of General Murtala Muhammed was a result of one.
It was during this time that General Olusegun Obasanjo initiated the transition process to bring an end to military rule.
A new constitution was drafted and the American-style of the presidential system was adopted over the Westminster system of government which was used in the First Republic.
In addition, the new constitution mandated political parties to ensure that they were registered in at least two-thirds of the states, and each state was required to produce at least one cabinet member.
Elections were conducted in 1979 with six registered political parties and Alhaji Shehu Shagari was elected on the NPN platform. The political parties were:
- Greater Nigerian People's Party (GNPP)
- National Party of Nigeria (NPN)
- Nigeria Advance Party (NAP)
- Nigerian People's Party (NPP)
- People's Redemption Party (PRP)
- Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN)
However, just like it happened in the first republic, high profile carpet crossing was also witnessed. And prominent among them were that of Chief Akin Omoboriowo from UPN, Unity Party of Nigeria led by Chief Awolowo to NPN National Party of Nigeria, NPN, the Carpet crossing by Chief Fagbamigbe also of former Ondo State from UPN to NPN.
The story was not different for Late Senator Lai Joseph from Old Oyo State. He would move from UPN to NPN. And Senator N.N. Anah SAN of the defunct Nigeria Peoples Party NPP would carpet cross to NPN.
Some of the second republic defectors were visited with violence, and it is believed that it was as a result of their actions.
Chief Fagbamigbe, who carpet crossed from UPN to NPN was hacked to death.
The Second Republic would come to an end as a result of a successful coup d’état which was followed by another successful one.
And in 1989, the constitution of the Third Republic was drafted and the then military head of states, General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida promised to end military rule by 1990.
It would not happen in the promised year as the date was subsequently pushed back to 1993.
But before then, IBB lifted the ban on political activities, which had been in place since the 1983 coup. Two political parties were established: the center-right National Republican Convention (NRC) and the center-left Social Democratic Party (SDP).
And unlike the mandated requirement of the Second Republic, the political parties of the Third Republic would draw from national basis instead of states.
The gubernatorial elections were conducted in 1992 with NRC winning more states than SDP. On June 12, 1993, the presidential election was held and the SDP presidential candidate, Chief MKO Abiola, emerged as the presumed winner.
However, the presidential election was annulled by the regime and Abiola became the president that never was.
It did not take long before Gen. Sani Abacha's coup ousted the administration of Ernest Shonekan who IBB appointed as interim president.
With Gen. Sani Abacha assuming the office of head of states, the Third Republic came to an end… and so it was until 1999.
After the death of Gen. Sani Abacha in 1998, Gen. Abdulsalami Abubakar who became the head of states lifted the ban on political parties and released imprisoned politicians of whom Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo was a beneficiary.
With the regime's intention to hand power over to civilian rule, the Fourth Republic constitution was drafted and styled after the Second Republic.
This gave room for the formation of new political parties which includes the People's Democratic Party (PDP), All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP), and Alliance for Democracy (AD).
Elections were conducted in April 1999 and former military ruler, Olusegun Obasanjo, who was released from prison ten months before the election, was elected president on the PDP platform.
Since 1999 till date (2018), the numbers of formed political in Nigeria have been outrageous. At a point, it was as if any Dick and Harry could wake one morning and registers a dozen people for a political party.
Thus the political parties became too numerous for citizens to keep count, and the Nigerian political system which was already bad footed as a result selfish and regional interest became crippled and bastardized.
The political parties were wanting in ethics and ideals. And this made it easy for politicians to carpet cross from here to there and here- to there- and back to here with a willingness to move again if the fulfilment of their desires are cut short.
There's no arguing the fact that the list would be endless if we choose to write the names of Fourth Republic politicians who have shamelessly carpet crossed one party to another in other to fulfill their political aspiration.
But notable among them is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar.
Alhaji Atiku Abubakar was Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo's vice president from 1999 to 2006. He walked away from PDP’s umbrella for the first time in 2006 and joined Action Congress, AC, after what is believed to be years of internal strife between him and Gen. Obasanjo.
He defected to pick the AC ticket to run for president in the 2007 election.
Although he did lose the elections to Late Musa Yar’ Adua, Atiku Abubakar remained in AC from 2006 to 2009; but would carpet cross from AC to PDP after disagreements with Bola Tinubu who was one of the leaders of AC.
He ran for the PDP presidential ticket in the 2011 election and lost to Goodluck Jonathan who was incumbent president at the time.
In August 2013 during PDP national convention, Atiku Abubakar alongside seven governors staged a walkout; accusing the leadership of the party and then President Jonathan of impunity.
They would go on to form what was known as the 'new PDP.'
In November 2013, Atiku and five other governors, including Kwanwanso, a former Kano State governor, carpet crossed to APC which was a newly formed political party.
APC, formed in February 2013, was the result of an alliance of Nigeria's three biggest opposition parties – the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC), the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) – and a faction of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA).
And just like he did when he returned to PDP, Atiku Abubakar contested for the APC presidential ticket but lost to Gen. Muhammadu Buhari who would go on to win the 2015 presidential elections.
On November 2017, after series of complaints, Atiku Abubakar carpet crossed back to the PDP with speculations suggesting that he came back for the PDP presidential ticket to enable him contest for President in the 2019 presidential elections.
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Below are the numerous political parties that have emerged since 1999
- Abundant Nigeria Renewal Party (ANRP)
- Advanced Congress of Democrats (ACD)
- Alliance for Democracy (AD)
- Action Democratic Party (ADP)
- All Democratic Peoples Movement (ADPM)
- All Progressives Congress (APC)
- African Democratic Congress (ADC)
- Advanced Peoples Democratic Alliance (APDA)
- All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA)
- All People's Party (APP)
- African Renaissance Party [ARP]
- Conscience People's Congress [CPC]
- Communist Party of Nigeria (CPN)
- Citizens Popular Party (CPP)
- Democratic Alternative (DA)
- Democratic Socialist Movement (DSM)
- Fresh Democratic Party (FDP)
- Labour Party [LP]
- Masses Movement of Nigeria (MMN)
- National Conscience Party (NCP)
- New Democrats (ND)
- New Generations Party of Nigeria (NGP)
- National Democratic Party (NDP)
- People's Democratic Party (PDP)
- Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA)
- People Progressive Party (PPP)
- People's Redemption Party (PRP)
- People's Salvation Party (PSP)
- Action Alliance (AA)
- Social Democratic Mega Party (SDMP)
- Socialist Party of Nigeria (SPN)
- Social Democratic Party (SDP)
- United Nigeria People's Party (UNPP)
- United Progressive Party (UPP)
- Mega People Political Party
- Young Progressive Party (YPP)
2019 election is coming and politicians are getting ready to carpet cross if it becomes obvious that their party won't fulfil their political desires.
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