The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended), recognizes the right of politicians to move from one political party to another. It also specifies the reasons why such should be allowed. The constitution, however fail to put in place a structure to monitor compliance. The sections 68(1) (g) and 109 (1) (g) of the constitution copiously guaranteed the right to decamp in event of factions or crisis. Many politicians have exploited this constitutional provision by wittingly and unwittingly inciting intra-party crisis to pave way for incessant cross-carpeting. There are obvious loopholes in the constitution, which might have been consciously or unconsciously left unblocked over the years.
A quick look into the somewhat long list of decampees might tell the story. Among prominent decampees are Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, Chief Bisi Akande, Chief Edwin Ume-Ezeoke, Chief Audu Ogbeh , Alhaji Abubakar Rimi, Alhaji Lawal Kaita, Hajiya Najatu Mohammed , Madam Titi Ajanaku , Senator Florence Ita Giwa , Alhaji Ghali Umar Na’abba , Late Chief Chuba Okadigbo , Late Chief Harry Marshall , Mr. Boni Haruna , Chief Joshua Dariye, Senator Kabiru Gaya, Dr. Chris Ngigie , Dr. Usman Bugaje, Senator Joseph Waku to mention but a few. More recently are the following political bigwigs in who Nigeria have decamped to the current ruling party, APC; Atiku Abubarkar, Rotimi Amaechi, Bukola Saraki, Alao Akala, and now, Musiliu Obanikoro
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Incessant cross-carpeting more than anything demonstrates absence of a clear-cut political ideology among decampees in particular, and the nation’s political chessboard generally. The game-plan in Nigeria’s politics is to move to where the money and power is, and as soon as the pot is dry, they form another one, or join an existing one to deceive the seemingly gullible populace. The people, after voting for them in the new party, eventually often cry foul after four years. Indeed, political ‘prostitution’ has, over the years, been elevated over and above ideology-driven politics unlike in the first Republic when the nation’s political turf was characterized by principles and discernable ideology-based politics. It is very difficult to point at any politician, or political party, whose ideology can be identified even by the blind, and known to have stood the test of time.
Obanikoro might, hitherto, have been erroneously smart enough to believe that power in the centre was going to stay with PDP, hence his swift move to PDP. After several attempts by the PDP, it became apparent that Lagos wasn’t going to fall into the hands of the PDP. In fact, the PDP eventually lost power to the party Obanikoro abandoned. The fish could no longer swim as the water in the river had dried. Obanikoro then returned some of the loot he got from his former party that woefully failed to stay in power at the federal level.
He needed to salvage two things; himself from going to prison, and his political career. By now, though anything is possible, it is crystal clear that APC has firm hold on Lagos, and will not lose its grip anytime soon. What has Obanikoro been looking for, you may ask? Perhaps he has a penchant for parties at the federal level. This ‘political prostitution’ is an apparent failure of the Nigerian political system, and more importantly, a show of shame and copious selfishness on the part of Nigerian politicians. If decamping in the Nigerian polity is based on selflessness, the country would have become so much better for it. Parties would have seen the need to keep their prized politicians by offering them the opportunity to really serve the people.
Also, in the Nigerian polity, if you are the devil in the opposition party, to become the saint, all you have to do is to join the ruling party, and just like magic, all your sins would be wiped off. It is obvious that Obanikoro is a smart one. He has made a smart move, and thus will avoid the anti-corruption dagger of the EFCC. How unfortunate!
Politics is a game of numbers, and those that play it are seemingly shameless when it comes to cross-carpeting. There is no party in Nigeria that has ever rejected any politician based on integrity, and or ideology. There would always be something symbiotic between the party and politician, whether prodigal or new. Atiku was always moving around apparently because he couldn’t resist the quest for the power of the president. He had been very close to it as the vice president, even though Obasanjo, according to reports, had to powerfully checkmate him.
The quest for power and money seem to be what is driving the average Nigerian politician. The masses are the ones always at a loss. Once the politicians start making their promises and money starts talking, the thought of the four-year suffering that will follow the campaign money-spraying spree won’t be remembered.
Now, the Chairman of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Lagos State has said, “With Obanikoro now in APC, the next big fish we are expecting in APC is Chief Bode George. He is coming to join us very soon, to join APC in helping to transform Lagos State into Dubai of Africa.” This was the same Bode George that was sent to prison for corruption related offenses. Politicians always have the back of fellow politicians once they are in their party. They are, however enemies if in another party. Their mission, after all seem to be the same –Selfish moneymaking. Femi Fani-Kayode decamped to the PDP, and suddenly he started singing the praises of Jonathan. Nigeria, we hail thee!
Until something drastic is done, politicians may just be stealing from the people, changing the name of their party like the chameleon to avoid prosecution, and then the stealing probably continues. The smart chameleon will always go scot free. Had Gabriel Suswam known, he probably would have joined the ruling party, perhaps, he would be a free man today. Now that the likes of Bode George are rumoured to be finding their way to the APC, Bode George will soon become a saint, and Olisa Metuh might just be left out to dry. His once loyal party members are leaving for the ruling party for reasons best known to them. Greennews.ng calls for an urgent solution to this incessant political prostitution that has evidently not translated to positive development in the country. Nigeria cannot afford to go on in this direction, as it is detrimental to the Nation’s growth and sustainability. We also call on the National Assembly to urgently block the loophole on the constitution that encourages continuous cross-movement from party to party.