The recent toll of events sweeping through Nigeria’s political space are vivid affirmations that the clouds are gathering for the 2023 general elections. Another icing was added to the cake with the defection of the Ebonyi State Governor, Dave Umahi from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the All Progressives Congress (APC). His action to many was unexpected considering the wave of events chief of which was the elections in both Edo and Ondo States. Many political observers were of the opinion that he was eyeing the seat of the Presidency and luck may not favour him if he remains in the PDP.
The concept of defection isn’t a new term in the nation’s political vocabulary. A political party in the first instance is a group of people who organise themselves and have the major objective of taking over the government through the constitutional process known as elections. By utilising their elected representatives, political parties aim to bring about progress on a fast pace.
From the above definition therefore, one may not be wrong to say that political parties are platforms established to develop and implement policies that bring about accountability and sustainable development. This on its own is modelled in line with party principles and philosophies. The above assertion is in tandem with what the founders of democracy and the rule of law propounded.
Sadly, the reverse seems to be operating in Nigeria as the political process is based on “I PITCH MY TENT WHERE I FEEL I CAN GET THE BEST”. Shifting grounds from one political party to another is a new modus operandi and is a strategy used by Nigerian politicians to escape critics and attacks. defection is now a common way of gaining the hedge or advantage over other political parties that are in existence.
It is a known fact that Nigeria’s political structure has been undermined by several circumstances chief of which is defection among political actors and other elected officials. The reasons for this action may not be far-fetched putting into perspective the current notion of politics in Nigeria where many see it as a do or die affair. Reasons why political actors shift their tent include but not limited to personal interests, a desire to belong to the ruling class, party crisis among others.
It is sad that Nigeria has not really modelled itself after the type of democracy practised in other countries where a political candidate remains in one party for donkey years without having to shift grounds and pitch his or tent with another party. Such is the case in countries like America, Russia, United Kingdom, Canada etc. The reverse side of the coin is practised by Nigerian politicians as defection is now what they engage in by mere speaking or appearing in the public space. Little wonder the political sphere arouses suspicion and fear making it difficult for people with clean motives to be elected into power.
The tide of defections in the recent times is astounding. Muhammadu Buhari who serves the seat of the Presidency had at several defected before eventually winning on the platform of the APC. The former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara, Rotimi Amaechi, Aminu Tambuwal are other examples of Nigerian politicians who have switched political platforms at one time or the other.
The recent elections in Ondo and Edo State also experienced an harvest of defection. In Edo State, Godwin Obaseki defected from the APC to the PDP. The Deputy Governor in Ondo State also shifted grounds and this created a scene as to how A Governor and his Deputy could vie for electoral offices under different political platforms.
The above profile of defections is worrisome as in most cases, the political actors move to other parties only to return home when events at the other party they defected to isn’t favourable. This has continued to generate heated arguments and controversies among political enthusiasts.
From observable reasons defections are traceable to factors such as the low level of political orientation, inordinate ambition, political hooliganism. This have all come to play under different circumstances. We would not be quick to forget Godswill Akpabio who in an attempt to escape the consequences of being tried for corruption related cases detected. This earned him the privilege of being a Minister in the current cabinet.
Rather than putting the interest of the masses who have elected them into power at heart, many politicians are concerned about amassing wealth and draining the national purse. This is the reason why money is glorified in Nigeria’s politics. The sky apparently is the limit for anyone who is rich in politics.
Having understood that defection is a hidden worm that has eaten deep into the nation’s political fabric. It is necessary to abate this trend by calling for a citizen inclusive politics where the interest of the electorate and the public is placed above personal desires.
Apart from this, a valuable political education process is necessary. This will save Nigeria’s political space from constant defection which have been a clog in the nation’s wheels of progress.