Adamu Muhammad Hamid PhD
(Continued from last weak.)
The electorate is aware and sees what is happening in the nation politically; they understand these defectors are defecting for their selfishness and greed to cling to power. Since President Mohammadu Buhari started fighting corruption, almost none of the defectors is in support of the policy because most of them have corruption-related cases directly or indirectly, which is why they are defecting to their old political parties to fight the ruling party. Some of the motivations for inter-party defections can be summarized thus:
Political Party Weakness
Where political parties are not formidable, policies are deployed to the obvious self-serving interests of individual politicians. It is believed that without robust political parties and political organizations that are responsible and active, which can negotiate and articulate concessions to answer contradictory demands, the gate will always be open for individuals to manoeuvre their ways to manipulate parties to their whims and caprices and pick or drop any political party anytime.
Based on this factor and in addition to the foregoing, defectors keep numbering because political parties lack guiding principles. This clarifies why legislators easily change parties once their individual interests are endangered.
Other Problems Associated with Nigerian Political Parties
Political parties are ideally formed by people with similar political interests, ideologies, and with the aim of grabbing power to influence and control government. However, in the Nigerian case, politicians are chastised for the problem of inter-party defections. These problems are not only related to the politicians, but also the political parties. In light of this, it is observed that Nigerian political parties come across myriads of problems that are existential, establishment-related, and bordering on the operations of the parties. These problems include but are not restricted to
i. Unnecessary use of money by politicians during elections;
ii The non-ideological basis of the establishment of the political parties;
iii. Poor political socialization and mobilization among political party leaders and members on the principles of election;
iv. Fierce competition between and among parties for resources and power or influence;
v. Excessive electoral fraud by political thugs during elections;
vi. Lack of adherence to internal democratic principles;
vii. Lack of independence of the judiciary, delay in trying election petitions, partiality, political interference, corruption, bribery, etc.
Based on these problems, the political parties and the politicians themselves, it is noted that these issues contribute to inter-party decamping among them. If these problems persist, the operation of the nascent democracy and its sustainability in the nation will only be an illusion.
Before the recent revision of the Constitution, it was contained in Section 177 of the 1999 Constitution that a person shall only be fit for election into the office of the governor of a state if he/she happens to belong to a political party, and is funded by the political party. Regrettably, the Constitution failed to be strict on or clearly stipulate for governors the conditions for leaving a party after winning the election on its platform. With respect to the upper and the lower chambers of the House, the 1999 Constitution has categorically stated in Section 68(1)(g) and (2) and 109 (1) (g) that a state and federal legislator must resign his or her position after decamping to other political party than the one on whose platform he/she was elected. This literally means members of the upper and the lower House shall quit their seats in the House on which they were elected before the expiration of their tenures.
If this injunction was held to the letter, flagrant tendencies would be minimized and the problem of inter-party drifts would have been checked.
Poor Political Mentorship
In a study by Adeoye in 2009, he opined that the politics of ‘godfatherism’ has become a global phenomenon. This is because godfathers have reigned across all scopes of the world: even in the professional fields such as legal, academics, and religious setting. For instance, in academics, there are professors who decide on those to join their academic circle. Adeoye further added that the connection between godfather and godson in politics has engendered the anti-competitive use of the term godfatherism; the politics of godfatherism thrives across the globe. There is hardly a single state which is free from such politics or which is devoid of the survival and effect of godfathers, though the degree of such influence differs from one state to another, and from one political party to the other while Nigeria has one of the worse cases..
Selection of Party Aspirants/ Flag-bearers
Processes of selecting an aspirant are one of the most difficult tasks. However, the method of choosing or nominating candidates varies from one party to the other. Some parties decide to use the open ballot system which is widely used by political parties in Nigeria. This is usually done at state and national levels, but records have indicated that the primaries are not devoid of intraparty conflicts, as emasculated candidates resort to the judiciary to reclaim their alleged stolen mandates. For instance, in Nigerian politics, the process of nominating candidates by political parties has not been uncomplicated because of the manner and process most of the parties are organized, and how leaders exercise their power and influence in upsetting the democratic processes of parties to favour their aspirants. For example, this is what almost transpired between Senate President Ahmed Lawan and his contestant Machina for the senatorial seat of their constituency in Yobe state.
The tendency of undemocratically manipulating party processes favour candidates for some reasons has a long history in Nigeria. In Borno state in 2003 for example, there were serious intra-party crises between late governor Mala Kachalla and Ali Modu Sharif, which led to the defection of late Mala Kachalla to AD. So also in Yobe state in 2007, there was another intraparty crisis between late Governor Mamman Ali and Senator Usman Albishir, which lead to the defection of late Senator Usman Albishir to the PDP. The same scenario manifested in Kano state in 2015, intra-party belligerence between Governor Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso. This also necessitated the defection of Mallam Ibrahim Shekarau to the PDP. This was his first defection to the PDP, now we are discussing the second one. But as the 2019 general election approached the tone changed, Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso defected to PDP to join the Shekarau trend and vie for the office of President. It was because of the intra-party intrigue between Governor Umar Ganduje and Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso, that Kwankwaso defected from the ruling party to an opposition party. Then, Kwankwaso also confirmed that Shekarau met with the governor of Kano state, Dr Abdullahi Ganduje on his move to the APC. The secretary of the party then disclosed that the intra-party squabble was as a result of the party’s injustice. Shekarau said it was impossible for him and his supporters to remain in the PDP as the leadership of the party was dancing to the tune of Senator Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso at the detriment of other PDP stakeholders in Kano.
On that occasion, Daily Trust reported that this same former governor of Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau had finally defected from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC) because of intra-party crises and injustice by the party stakeholders. This information was disclosed by his publicity secretary on Tuesday 4th September 2018. He said the former governor decided to leave PDP after meeting with his supporters. His defections were because of injustice meted on him and his supporters by the leadership of the PDP.
Similarly, another report by Oluwatobi in 2018 revealed that more than 200 members of the ruling party APC have defected to the PDP at Ogbonna in Estako Central local government area of Edo state. The defectors were led by a former APC chairman in the locality, Peter Itabor Amarekhamhe. According to him, they left the APC because several promises of the party were not fulfilled. This shows that most Nigerian politicians have become in Nigerian parlance called ‘political prostitutes’ who are desperately seeking power at all costs. Therefore, they keep on decamping from one political party to another.
The Future of Democracy in Nigerian
Democracy in the Nigerian context has turned into a game of party defection or decamping from one political party to another. Though its essence is to provide and encourage people’s participation in governance, unfortunately, “Politics that ought to be a problem solver suddenly became the problem to be solved in Nigeria.” Politicians have destroyed the purpose of democracy. For example, election sponsors are people financially sound, who agree to donate lavishly towards the electoral victory of a particular party or sponsor candidates during an election. These are people who are less concerned about public benefits or supervision of government business but expect policies from the government which are friendly to them. This is what has contributed immeasurably to the inter-party decamping of some politicians across the nation. With this ugly trend, the future of Nigerian democracy will continue to be desolate.
Political parties as experts observe are so momentous “that neither democracy nor democratic society can exist without them”. To last, democracy must depend on political parties since all the processes and procedures of an election are managed and controlled by political parties. For example, the nomination of party aspirants or flag-bearers and presentation of political programmes are carried out by political parties. It is on this basis that political parties play a noteworthy role in the democratic landscape. In view of this, the role of political parties becomes realistic when there is a coherent political string in the nation. The parties give direction to political evolution: Nigeria is a politically-dynamic country with one of the fastest growing populations in the world. The citizens deserve parties that are not only generating answers to the country’s complex problems but are also engaging its citizens on the best way forward. When the citizens go to vote on February 25th, 2023, let them vote for the candidate and party that have put into the open the best vision for the future of this country. If parties remain underdeveloped providing a subtle unstable platform for political drifts, operating in a weak and moribund civil society, virile democracy will continue to elude us.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect WikkiTimes’ editorial stance.