Nigeria’s main opposition party now controls near majority seats in the senate after Senate President Bukola Saraki
At the last count, 37 House of Reps members have also defected to the PDP from the APC.
The mass defections the Nigerian political scene just witnessed points to deeper problems in our democracy. Again, this just goes to show that we run a political system where parties have no ideologies and where politicians simply swap one political platform for another because of what’s in it for them in their new platforms. This point has been over-flogged now but it needs restating again and again because it has ramifications for the rest of society.
Among the APC senators who defected to the PDP are Gemade, Melaye, Shittu, Rafiu, Isa Misau, Hunkuyi, Monsurat, Danbaba, Nafada, Nazif and Rabiu Kwankwaso, among others.
Since the nation’s return to democracy in 1999, politicians have had no scruples switching camps at the drop of a hat. We have had politicians who join parties for elective positions only to dump that platform once they have achieved their election goals. We have had politicians who switched camps back-to-back-to-back in one calendar year. The defections are driven by money, power and nothing else.
In a chat with Pulse two weeks ago, lamented that we run political platforms in Nigeria as opposed to political parties. Because political platforms have neither values nor ideologies, they welcome just about everyone, no matter how tainted, into their folds.
Take Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso for instance. The former Kano Governor is only joining the PDP because he has lost control of the APC structure in his home State to Governor Abdullahi Ganduje.Senator Dino Melaye is returning to the PDP because he fell out with the APC in his home State and because he sees no way back to the senate from an APC where Governor Yahaya Bello has all but annihilated him.
Senate President Bukola Saraki will soon rejoin the PDP to continue his unbridled lust for power at all cost.Musiliu Obanikoro who was accused of theft to the tune of millions of Naira, has since pitched tent with the APC ostensibly to escape the law; and Senator Buruji Kashamu, an alleged former drug lord who is wanted in the United States for heroin trafficking and who has just been expelled from the PDP, may just be welcomed into the APC with open arms.
In the United States where we copied this brand of democracy, you are not likely to see a Democrat becoming a Republican the next day because both parties have a set of beliefs and values they hold dear and because the lines for both parties never meet. Where one party is pro-choice, the other is pro-life. Where one party has no problems with more guns in the hands of lunatics, the other preaches gun control and pines for stricter gun laws. Where one party is conservative, the other is liberal. In Nigeria, there is no left, right or center in the political firmament—there is only a gathering of politicians who converge in a camp for the sole purpose of sharing the national cake and feeding fat on the treasury.
The ideology deficit in our nation’s politics has far reaching consequences for the rest of society. Political parties who have no values, no promised manifestoes or no discernible ideologies are not likely to deliver dividends of democracy to the people. Our ideology deficit politics contributes to why we have decrepit infrastructure and the highest number of poor people in the world. It is why the nation is crumbling before our eyes because you can't hold any political leader to anything.
Nigeria won’t grow beyond the level of its politics or politicians. To get to where we want as a country, political parties must make the shift from money or power politics to ideology based politics. The raft of defections seen this week shouldn’t give rise to triumphalism in the receiver camp. We all should really be mourning