Atiku, nomadic politicians and parties’ relevance

When perennial presidential aspirant and former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar embarked on country wide consultations with stakeholders, associates and supporters in what looked like seeking a way out of his political cul-de-sac, watchers of unfolding political events knew something was in the offing. Many thought he was in a fix, for obvious reasons. One, he had been in and out of the Action Congress which metamorphosed into APC after a fusion with the ANPP and a faction of APGA. Two, his return to the PDP in 2011, saw him becoming a major contender after the Adamu Ciroma committee declared him the North’s consensus candidate in a controversial screening exercise that eventually squared him up with President Goodluck Jonathan. He lost the primaries, but received accolades for his spot-on inspirational speech and doggedness. He remained a pariah in the PDP until his faction walked out of the party’s convention in August, an action that has precipitated the disintegration of the party. Three, he had been hobnobbing with the APC leadership, which in turn had paid a political homage to (Atiku) and asked him to return to their fold.
As he confessed in a BBC Hausa interview and implied during the consultations, and, of course, in preparation to jump ship again, he said he had remained, at best a nominal member of the PDP, having been estranged from it. And in anticipation of the criticisms that would trail his latest decision, he said: “I did not leave the party. I was pushed out by my former boss. Since I returned about four years ago, the PDP has not communicated to me and I have not communicated to the PDP. I have not attended any of their meetings and they have not invited me. I am supposed to be a member of BOT, NEC but I have never attended. So if you don’t participate in the process, how do you contribute your experience and expertise in resolving the problems of the party”? With that rhetorical question, the former vice president set the stage for his defection. Last weekend, the cat was finally let out of the bag.
Having been left in the lurch by the PDP, and made to look like a beautiful bride by the APC, Atiku must have had a tough time arriving at his final decision; a decision that speaks volumes about his ideological leaning, if he or any politician in Nigeria had any. To be sure, Atiku is a politician with grandeur, but his constant defection especially when a presidential election is approaching has cast a moral question on his motivation and drive. Is it just for the sake of relevance, or it’s about the fulfilment of a yet to be realised ambition, or patriotism? Although, Atiku in the same interview, said he was more interested in the survival of the nation, Nigeria, which is on the brink, than take another shot at the presidency; only those who are naive and not schooled in Nigeria’s political engineering will believe him. “It is not about an ambition again but about Nigeria. We have gotten to that stage now that it is not about ambition but the existence of Nigeria and the people”, Atiku said. But read my lips, at the appropriate time, Atiku will throw in his hat, heart and might in the ring.
Atiku’s decision is also eliciting reactions that question the relevance or the existence of political parties. The gale of defections sweeping across the country has witnessed realignment of forces. Ex-governors Ibrahim Shekarau of Kano state and Attahiru Bafarawa of Sokoto have defected to the PDP, while Senators Bukola Saraki of Kwara and Abdullahi Adamu of Nassarawa states among other high profile personalities have moved to the APC. In Nigeria, moving from one party to the other is like changing one’s attires/apparels. How do you explain the unsteady political situation? Except in Nigeria, where is it in the world, would a former vice president, former governors and, serving senators, etc, change from one platform to the other as if they are not passionate about their convictions.
The saying that ‘if you do not stand for something, you can fall for anything’, readily comes to mind here. What are the principles and ideologies that our politicians stand for? It is very easy to say that the exigency of the moment is responsible for the nomadic mentality of our politicians, but who created those circumstances in the first place? Is it not the same politicians? Were we not in this country when former president Olusegun Obasanjo decreed that the president was the leader of his party, PDP, and it was ingrained in the party’s constitution? That action is now creating problems in all the states of the federation, non PDP states inclusive, where the governors have absolute control of the party structures and the levers of power? Very much the same way Jonathan has a total control of the PDP and determines who becomes its officials as well as decides who becomes who in the governance structure of the country. You see, when politicians in power make laws to their advantage alone, they forget they will not be there forever. They forget that one day a fool, a misfit or a madman can be on that seat and misuse the enormous powers at his disposal.
This brings us to another point: Do we really need political parties for democracy to thrive? If politicians can change parties at will, we might as well leave everything to chance and narrow the struggle for power to individuals’ capacities and capabilities proven over time. Am I advocating for independent candidacy as is done is some climes? Well, something like that; after all someone like Atiku, Speaker Aminu Tambuwal, Governor Sule Lamido or Rabiu Kwankwaso, and most of all, President Jonathan can endear themselves to the electorate, on their own merit, with or without political parties. That way, the nation will conserve funds and utilise same in critical sectors. INEC’s headaches too will drastically reduce, and all the wannabes parading themselves as politicians and leaders of mushroom parties will have to seek for other means of livelihood.

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