14 days to presidential polls, defections rattle parties

Cross-carpeting or defection from one party to another has apparently become part of Nigeria’s political culture. With the look of things, 2023 will not be an exception as parties are already feeling the impact of the scourge. KEHINDE OSASONA writes.

Is defection a political agenda?

Atiku Abubakar, Bukola Saraki, Yakubu Dogara Obi, Musiliu Obanikoro, Peter Obi, Aminu Tambuwal, Gov. Samuel Ortom, Nuhu Ribadu, Iyiola Omisore to mention but few all have something in common; They have all at one time or another defected from one political party to another.

Their reason most atimes stemmed from the quest to pursue their ambitions or needs to have a soft landing in their new party.

In today Nigeria, defection, cross-carpeting as the case may be has become not only a way of life for the political class but also an everyday occurrence.

Now, concerned Nigerians have started decrying gales of defections which have continued unabated, especially among members of top rated parties. They particularly expressed concerns over its timing, rate and motive.

Lately, scores have defected from the PDP to the APC. Also, thousands have jumped ship from the APC to the PDP while others moved from APC and PDP to Zenith Labour Party (ZLP).

For Inaolaji Gbotemi, a political scientist based in Ibadan, the scourge is gradually becoming a culture, saying it is not only disturbing but also shameful.

Inaolaji said, “Although politics globally has its peculiarity, the way we are throwing away needed ingredients like ideologies and principles is becoming worrisome.

“I am not comfortable with the fact that this culture which is as old as our democracy still reign supreme five decades after,”

Defection part of political development – Gov candidate

While also speaking in an exclusive chat with Weekend Blueprint, the gubernatorial candidate of the African Democratic Party (ADC) in Kwara, Barr. Issah Manzuma noted that decamping or cross carpeting or defection before, during campaign or even at the time of election and after election, have become part of Nigeria political developments.

The reason according to Manzuma who spoke in an exclusive interview is caused majorly by the absence of internal democracy in many political parties.

He said, “Primary elections are often fraught with irregularities and chest beating. The disenchantment continues to the period of elections and division or factions are created leading to decamping as a result of distrust. The case of PDP G5 Governors illustrates this point.

“Sometimes too, we have seen where members of the same party work against themselves due to lack of cohesion and party discipline as it was during Awolowo and others.

“So, defection counts as it’s a constitutional issue and contained in the constitution of all political parties. The consequences without good reasons is dire for elected members of the Assemblies,”

On whether the situation is good for the country’s nascent democracy, the gubernatorial candidate added; “The disenchantment among Nigerians with the state of the nation has created distrust for political parties and politicians and may lead to more defections in the days ahead. It is certainly not a mere ceremony but has now become legal, ideological and psychological problems.

Has the plague come to stay?

Nasarawa

In August last year, no fewer than 27,000 registered members of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party in Nasarawa State declared their support for the Labour Party.

At the ceremony, the state Chairman of the party, Alexander Emmanuel said the 27,000 defectors from the APC and PDP were in addition to the party’s one million supporters drawn from 56 support groups across the 13 LGAs of the state.

Week after the commencement of the 2023 general election campaigns in Nasarawa State, the ruling party in the state received no fewer than 12,000 PDP, LP members in Wamba local government ahead of the forthcoming general election, just as major political parties in the State have continued to witness series of defections by members.

Mostly affected by the development are the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), the Zenith Labour Party among others.

Governor Abdullahi Sule also received over 2,000 people from the Bassa ethnic group who declared their total support for the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in Nasarawa local government area of the state.

While welcoming the Bassa people, and defectors from other political parties numbering over 2000, the governor expressed appreciation to the mammoth crowd that turned out for the rally.

Jigawa

Recently too, Eight state house of assembly candidates of the Labour Party in Jigawa have also defected to the All Progressives Congress (APC).

In a statement, Habibu Nuhu Kila, media adviser of Muhammad Badaru Abubakar, governor of Jigawa, said his principal formally received the defectors into the party at a meeting in the state house in Dutse.

The defectors according to the aide are from Auyo, Kirikasamma, Bulangu, Malam Madori ,Kafin hausa

Birniwa, Guri and Kaugama constituencies.

“Mohammed Makinta, the LP candidate for Guri constituency, said he and the seven candidates realized that APC is “the most credible political party”.

“We promise to work to ensure victory for the APC’s candidates in the forthcoming general election,” Makinta, one of the defectors, was quoted as saying.

As if that was not enough, the North East Support Groups and Presidential Campaign Council (PCC) of the Labour Party (LP) also dumped the party for the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Announcing the decision during a press Conference in Bauchi, the Spokesperson of the Party’s Presidential Campaign Council, North East, Muhammad Pantami, declared that over 40 million voters in the North East sub-region will vote for Alhaji Atiku Abubakar of the PDP in the 2023 general elections.

Pantami, who lamented that the Labour Party has been bedeviled by lack of internal democracy, Tribalism and God-fatherism, alleged that his members have not been getting complete information about the internal functioning of the party.

He said power inside the party is concentrated among the leaders, such that not all members are able to influence decisions.

Lagos

A stalwart of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Lagos State, Babatunde Gbadamosi, last year defected to the Labour Party

(LP), he went ahead by declaring support for its presidential candidate Peter Obi.

Gbadamosi, a former governorship candidate of the African Democratic Party and a former Lagos East Senatorial Candidate of the PDP, made it known in a statement in Lagos.

He said, “I had completely lost hope, especially in the youths of Nigeria, considering how the senatorial bye-elections panned out, after the traumatic events of the #EndSARS.

“However, the exit of Peter Obi from the PDP and his subsequent emergence as the Presidential candidate of the LP, and his brilliant choice of Mallam Yusuf Datti Baba-Ahmed as running mate have rekindled my hope.

“I am 54 years old, and never in my life have I been privileged to witness the kind of energy, vim, vigour, unity and tenacity of purpose being exhibited by youths of all ethnicities and religious backgrounds in Nigeria over a political candidate.

“I hereby publicly declare my resignation from the PDP and wish all the remaining members well.

“By the same token, I also hereby publicly declare my support for the Labour Party and its presidential candidate, Mr Peter Obi,” Mr Gbadamosi said.

Ogun 

Some members of the APC in Ogun State also defected to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

In the same vein, some members of the Labour Party (LP), the Allied Peoples Movement (APM), the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP), the Social Democratic Party (SDP), and the African Democratic Congress (ADC) equally resigned their membership to join the PDP.

The defectors who were received at the PDP secretariat in Abeokuta by the state chairman, Sikirulai Ogundele, declared support for the governorship candidate of PDP in the state, Ladi Adebutu.

They were led by a former Deputy Speaker of the state’s House of Assembly, Tola Banjo from ex-Governor Ibikunle Amosun’s group; Saka Ahmed from ex-Governor Olusegun Osoba’s group and Yinka Asaye from Governor Dapo Abiodun’s group.

Other defectors were the governorship candidate of LP at the 2019 election, Modupe Sanyaolu, and former councillors in the Amosun-led administration between 2016 and 2019.

 Sokoto

Shortly after party primaries in Sokoto State last year, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) welcomed into its fold aggrieved All Progressives Congress (APC) members who lost out in the exercise.

Notable among the Sokoto State APC stalwarts received by Alhaji Umar Damagun and Delta state governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, PDP zonal vice chairman and vice presidential candidate respectively, are Yusuf Suleiman, former Minister of Transport/Sport; Senator Bello Jibrin Gada, former Minister Culture and Tourism

Others include Honourable Abubakar Balarabe Salame, former acting Governor, former Speaker Sokoto House of Assembly, serving member House of Representatives, representing Gwadabawa/Ilella Federal Constituency and Rt. Honourable Aminu Achida, serving Speaker, Sokoto House of Assembly.

The rest are Honourable Abubakar Gumbi, APC gubernatorial candidate; Honourable Yusuf Isa Kurdula, serving member representing Tangaza/Gudu federal Constituency, Honourable Abdullahi Hassan, former Chairman, Sokoto North Local Government, including their numerous supporters.

While welcoming the decampees back home, Governor Aminu Waziri Tambuwal of Sokoto state, applauded their decision to team up with his administration in developing the state and assured them of equal treatment in the PDP.

Like some analysts put it, it remains to be seen how such ‘mass defection’ would swell party’s ranks or translate into victory come 2023 and whether or not it is actually a ‘play’ staged to cajole political parties.

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