By Ojo Maduekwe
Former vice-president Atiku Abubakar leaving the All Progressives Congress, APC, wasn’t supposed to make headline. When in 2014 he said the APC was the last political party he would be defecting to, it was not going to come as a surprise to many that he was likely to defect again; just like he has done.
Except a few, for many Nigerian politicians, not defecting is the exception. It is the norm, the nature of the majority in pursuit of their ambition to occupy elective office and remain politically relevant to drift from one party to another.
Nigerians refer to this attitude of switching parties as ‘political prostitution’, and taking from the behavior of prostitutes, the politicians with a history of always defecting are considered morally porous and lacking in integrity.
It appears that even those politicians generally considered as upright are not immune to defections; one example is President Muhammadu Buhari. Elected in his fourth attempt on the platform of the APC, Buhari had in the past ran for president thrice and in two of the three times on different parties.
When critically analysed, devoid of the usual sentiments that typify public discussions in Nigeria, defection should not be criticized. The configuration of many Nigerian political parties allows room for politicians to defect.
By simple definition, a political party should be “an organised group of people with at least roughly similar political aims and opinions that seeks to influence public policy by getting its candidates elected to public office.”
The political parties in Nigeria fall short of the standards set in the above definition. Except for the unpopular Socialist Party of Nigeria, whose logo along with others are only good for filling up the ballot, the ruling APC and opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, are ideologically hollow.
The membership of these two big parties is unorganised, have no similar aim and opinions, and only seek to advance their individual interests.
Architects of the APC, headed by former Lagos state governor, Bola Tinubu, intended for the party to rival the PDP by advancing progressive ideas. But, along the way, faced with the reality of winning the 2015 presidential election, the APC ended up with Buhari, who is everything but progressive.
Some of the worst anti-people and conservative policies ever witnessed in Nigeria have been implemented under a supposedly progressive party. The government of President Buhari and the ruling APC has tried to control everything from the judiciary to the economy, even down to the social media.
For instance, the executive under Buhari have violated the independence of the Central Bank of Nigeria, flagrantly disobeyed court orders, and have sought to gag Nigerians freedom of speech through an anti social media bill.
It is important we point out the unprogressive nature of the above policies, and to highlight the similarity between the APC and previous PDP governments. It’s safe to say Buhari can be president under the PDP and you won’t notice he’s changed party. Ironically, past PDP president’s like the late Umaru Yar’Adua and Goodluck Jonathan had more progressive policies than Buhari.
The blame is not with the politicians but the political parties. If the APC were not desperate to control the presidency, the party would not have accepted many of the defected PDP members, and definitely would have had no room for Buhari to be its candidate. The APC was more interested in increasing its numerical strength to win elections than in being ideologically different from the PDP.
It is because Nigeria’s political parties lack ideology that a conservative Buhari can be president under a progressive party, why Atiku finds it convenient switching parties, and why political parties like the supposedly progressive APC have no problem accepting all kinds of politicians into its membership.
PHOTO: Former vice-president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar (L) recently resigned his membership of the ruling All Progressives Congress party, accusing President Buhari (R) of running a government gripped by impunity, arbitrariness, unconstitutionality.