PDP furthers hobbed by defections

The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP is traumatised as its members lead in the mad rush for refuge in the All Progressives Congress, APC, which earned victory in the March 28 presidential election. Tony Egbulefu

Defection is lawful, but it is immoral to change party because we lost the presidential election…Fair weather members are free to go, but committed ones will stay.” With these words the national publicity secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Olisa Metu, last week, bemoaned the membership haemorrhage, that has hit the party since President Goodluck Jonathan took a beating from Gen. Muhammadu Buhri in the March 28 presidential election.

A sorely pained Metu also disclosed that the defection typhoon, sweeping through the PDP is not just an expression of the inclination in the average Nigerian politician to align with any side where his bread would be buttered, but a fall out of an orchestrated headhunt of PDP members by the victorious All Progressives Congress, APC. “Reports reaching the PDP leadership from across the country show that the APC has been desperately seeking ways to destabilise our ranks and weaken our formations by approaching some senior members of our Nationa
l Executive Committee (NEC) with phantom promises and threats, ostensibly to use them to inject crisis in our fold and pave way for our elected members to cross over to APC,” Metu alleged.

The past few days have seen an exodus of both the high and the low from the PDP to the APC. In Gombe state, where PDP has held court, the Majority Leader of the state’s house of assembly, Mamman Alkali, the army of personal assistants and special assistants to Governor Ibrahim Hassan Dankwambo and sundry members of PDP, last week, surged into the APC. According to Alhaji Ibrahim Zamfara, a member of the PDP Elders Committee in the state, the crossover became compelling because the state would not be in opposition following the victory of General Muhammadu Buhari.

In Jigawa, Governor Saminu Turaki, the incumbent deputy governor, Alhaji Ahmed Mahmud Gumel, as well as Senator Muhammad Baban Beta who represented Jigawa North-West Senatorial District from 1999 to 2003 and Senator Muhammad Dudu who represented the states’s North-East Senatorial district from 1999-2007, have all switched camp from PDP to APC.

In Kebbi state, House of Representatives member representing Yauri, Shanga and Ngaski local government, Garba Uba Bullet, and Shuaibu Mungadi, representing Kalgo/Bunza/Birnin Kebbi, and seven ward chairmen in Yauri local government area have moved from PDP to the APC, so also the state’s Commissioner of Commerce, Sani Yusuf. Alhaji Hussaini Adamu and Alhaji Zubairu Wazirin Dabai, who were both governorship aspirants on PDP platform, have also dumped the party. In Kaduna state, PDP leaders from a whooping 23 local government areas of the state have also switched camp to the APC.

Senator Gbemi Saraki and former Edo state governor, on the platform of the PDP, Prof. Oserheimen Osunbor have all defected to the APC. Former deputy speaker, House of Representatives, Chibudom Nwuche has in the meantime, limited his severance of tie with the PDP to just resignation from the party. Nwuche courageously disclosed that he would have long resigned from the PDP save for a self caution for him to first watch which side the pendulum would swing in this year’s presidential election. With his resignation from the PDP, guessing Nwuche’s next political destination is no brainer.

Senator Saraki, a two time senator on PDP platform on her part, revealed that she has found in APC a platform that mirrors the ideals of the Saraki political family, both in content and context. Moving from one party to the other is an old habit for Senator Saraki. She has gone from PDP to Allied Congress Party of Nigeria, ACPN, from where she contested Kwara state governorship election in 2011 and got a thrashing from Abdulfatah Ahmed. She found her way back to the PDP in 2013, and this year, she has anchored in the APC.

Osunbor on his part said he discovered that his former party did not have the interest of his Edo people at heart, and had to migrate to the APC last just week. Prof. Osunbor, who was former governor of Edo state on the PDP platform also announced to Governor Adams Oshiomhole who received him into the APC that he had all along, been a blackleg in his former party, and that he was steeped in anti-party activities.

Major-general Charles Airhiavbere, who was PDP’s candidate in the 2012 governorship election in Edo state, and national coordinator of “Goodluck to Goodluck Support Group” in this year’s presidential election, waited only eight days after President Jonathan lost the election to switch camp to the rival APC. Airhiavbere, revealed that he spent his personal resources on Jonathan’s campaign and did not receive any financial lifeline for all what he did with his support group. He further disclosed that his decision to defect was as a result of the benefits that would accrue to his state if it remained in the APC that would control power at the centre. Airhiavbere’s former comrade-in-arms, Major-general Chris Onoja from Benue state is also widely reported to have left the PDP for APC.

As Airhiavbere left and emptied his President Jonathan’s campaign outfit into the Edo APC, so also Castro Ezama of “Rebuild Nigeria Initiative,” RNI, which campaigned for Jonathan in Cross river state. According to Ezama, “Cross River state cannot afford to be in opposition because of the economic challenges facing the state.”

Though Metu thinks that the effusive loss of its members is as result of methodical wooing from the APC, a school of thought rather believes that survivalist’s politics is the trigger in the exodus, given the fact that what PDP members are better accustomed to since 1999, is being part of power management at the centre and its accruals, and not opposition politics.

Defection features in all multi-party democracies across the globe. In the United States from where Nigeria cloned its multi-party presidential system, some remarkable defections have taken place across the two dominant-republican and democratic parties, but the defections have hardly been as a result of lack of stamina in party members to do opposition politics.

Hillary Clinton, now a Democratic Party presidential hopeful, former Democratic Party presidential aspirant, Secretary of States and former US First Lady under a Democratic Party president, Bill Clinton, started out as a republican. President Ronald Reagan, who ruled the country on the platform of the Republican Party was once a hard-core Democrat. Until 1982, Condolezza Rice- former US Secretary of States and National Security Adviser- was a Republican.

In contemporary times only the defection of Richard Shelby in 1994, from the Democratic Party to the Republican, a day after the latter won majority in both houses of the Congress in a midterm election, that ended the Democrats’ 40 year dominance looked like made in Nigeria. “I am changing to a party of hope for America,” Shelby declared as he quickly ran from the Democratic Party to the victorious Republican.

Apart from what will be the overwhelming dominance of the APC in the next National Assembly, the on-going membership haemorrhage in the PDP, will ensure that the APC will have an all round lame opposition to contend with from the PDP in the next four years. Apart from the PDP, the Labour Party has weighed-in to express horror over the exodus of PDP members to the victorious APC. In a statement released by the party’s national publicity secretary, Kayode Ajulo, the LP cautioned PDP members to temper their attraction to the APC with moderation or end up leaving the country at the mercy of the ills of one party state.

Labour Party also wondered why an APC which is branded as party of progressives threw its gates open to the same politicians it has all along denounced as the locusts of the Nigerian state.

Perhaps, while the APC is happy with Jonathan for conducting an election in which he was prepared to lose, the party may in fact be happier that the out-going president will be leaving behind a PDP that will in a state of suspended animation in foreseeable time to come.


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