Dariye is playing smart all over again--jumping ship to a party where he'll be guaranteed protection
The announcement by former Governor of Plateau State, Joshua Dariye, that he was defecting from the opposition PDP to the APC, before close of business at the Senate on Thursday, brings to the fore the ideology deficit in the Nigerian political terrain.
Said Dariye: “After due consultations with my constituency, I write to notify you of my intention to cross over from the PDP to the APC.
“My decision is informed by the protracted division at the national level of the PDP that led to the massive movement of my supporters to the APC.
“Arising from this, I therefore write to formally inform you of my decision to go along with my supporters. I thank you for your understanding.’’
Dariye is quitting the PDP just when it's convenient to do so and the popular hunch is that this has nothing to do with his supporters or the rift within the PDP, as he blithely tendered above.
As a representative of the Plateau Central Senatorial District in the upper legislative chamber, Dariye's case for making away with N1.16billion of Ecological Funds during his spell as Governor, sits before Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, High Court, Gudu, Abuja.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been having a hard time bringing Dariye to heel. The anti-graft agency first filed charges against the Senator in 2007. The accused pleaded not guilty and subsequently pulled a fast one on law enforcement:
With the trial date of November 13, 2007 looming in the horizon, Dariye filed a counter suit challenging the competence of the charges and the jurisdiction of the Abuja High Court to hear his case.
His argument was that the Plateau State High Court and not the FCT High Court, should be hearing the case.
It was smart delay tactic and it worked a treat.
For close to a decade, Dariye's jurisdiction suit bought him time and money. Enough time to get him elected into the Senate to represent the same people he allegedly stole from as Governor.
It was not until 2015 that the Supreme Court ruled that the FCT High Court retains the jurisdiction to hear the Dariye corruption case. And then a year later, he's pitching tent with the governing party, ostensibly to escape the long arm of the law.
In 2004, wanted for fraud by the UK authorities, Dariye did an Alams, but without the disguise--he fled the country.
A cross section of Nigerians on social media averred, upon the news of his defection, that Dariye is playing smart all over again--jumping ship to a party where he'll be guaranteed some form of protection from the long arm of the law.
"His (Senate) seat should be declared vacant now", wrote Egghead Odewale, who is an aide of Solid Minerals Minister, Kayode Fayemi.
"Nigerian Senator Wanted in the UK decamps to ruling APC from opposition PDP. Dariye escaped from the UK after being granted bail", lamented UK based journalist Kayode Ogundamisi.
"Corruption charges against Dariye will soon go. Defection must be one of such conditions. Great transformation from a political Saul to Paul!", mocked John Danfulani.
Olumuyiwa Amao also pointed at the convenience of it all: "Joshua Dariye decamps from PDP to APC. Well, corruption just added another feather to its camp in the ruling party", he wrote through his Twitter handle @talk2smat.
"I won't be surprised if by Monday, the corruption charges against Senator Joshua Dariye are dropped. He has Joined the league of progressives," @Imodu67 tweeted with doses of sarcasm.
The APC has received flak in the past for welcoming PDP defectors with corruption allegations hanging round their necks, into its fold.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar isn't exactly known as a squeaky clean politician. But he defected from the PDP as well and was one of the founding members of the APC.
Erstwhile Rivers Governor, Rotimi Amaechi, was clobbered for corrupt enrichment while overseeing the affairs of the oil rich State. Those allegations remain unproven, even as he swapped the PDP for the APC after falling out with former Nigerian leader Goodluck Jonathan and his wife Patience Faka Jonathan.
The APC has also rolled out the drums in welcome of a handful of politicians who currently play prominent roles in parliament. Senate President Bukola Saraki, Rep Adulmumin Jibrin and Speaker Yakubu Dogara, all belonged in the PDP at some point in their political careers. They share that (dis)honour with the incumbent Governor of Sokoto State, Aminu Tambuwal, who deserted the PDP in his dying months as Speaker.
Dariye however, is a serial defector.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) captured it better than most: "Thursday defection by Dariye was the second time he was dumping the PDP.
"In 2011, he defected from the party to Labour Party, where he contested the senatorial election.
"But, in 2014, the former governor returned to the PDP, and had explained that his decision to rejoin the party was because he was a founding member".
The irony is that, tainted and unstable as he is, Dariye was still found worthy of chairing the Senate Committee on Public Procurement.
For the Nigerian politician, defection and larceny, it appears, are the palm oil with which politics is eaten, to paraphrase renown man of letters, Chinua Achebe.