Around the world today, political parties are known for their ideology and what they stand for. This defines the policies and programs they pursue when they are in power. Political ideologies vary from socialist, liberal, capitalist and even progressive etc. and these ideologies has defined key democratic countries like France, UK, USA, India; but in Nigeria, there seems to be a death of political parties driven by ideology today and as a result party defections become the other of the day.
Arc. kola Ogunloye, a socio-economic analyst defined ideology as “a body of ideas that guide the way political parties see the political domain”. He further said that “a political party that is structured around a particular ideological orientation, is seen in that regard and people can evaluate it better based on its ideological position”. Meanwhile defection is an act of swapping political parties or an act of changing party allegiance.
Political parties are institutions for developing policies and platform and providing critical oversight and accountability of government action. Through their elected representatives, political parties implement policies in line with the party’s ideology. However, that is not the case in Nigeria. Moving from one political party to another is common and seen as a way of gaining an advantage over another political parties.
Nigeria’s incumbent president, while he was not a member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), he did move between various political parties in his quest to become the number one citizen of Nigeria. In 2003 and 2007, he contested for president as the candidate of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP). In 2011, he was the presidential candidate of the Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) which he founded and in 2015 he finally contested as the presidential candidate for the All Progressive Congress (APC) and he won the election.
Fresh in our minds was the recent drama between Governor Obaseki and his formal party APC. Due to greedy and self-centred desires to control power in Edo state, the then former national chairman of APC, Adams Oshiomhole and the incumbent governor, Obaseki, were involved in some power tussle. Governor Obaseki was disqualified from running for the second term under the flagship of APC, citing fake NYSC certificate as the reason why. Was he (Obaseki) not screen by the same party before he contested and won the election for the first term in office? Well, I will leave that question to the good judgement of Adams Oshiomhole.
Governor Godwin Obaseki as a Right Honourable (Rt. Hon) he claimed to be, ought to have received his disqualification just like the ex-governor of Lagos state (Akinwunmi Ambode) did, instead, he decided to become a Right Dishonourable and to satisfy his greedy and selfish cravings for power defected to the People’s Democratic Party, where he was received with open arms. Wait, is this this how party allegence quickly change!?
Well, that’s if there was any in APC.
Party ideologies to a large extent reflect the characters of the people in the party. The Labour and Conservative party in the UK, Democratic and Republican Party in the USA, are parties that have members whose characters reflect the party’s ideology. So, if you are a democrat in nature, for example, nothing concerns you with the Republican party and the same can be said of a person who is a republican. The result of this is loyalty from party members, who will rather resign from politics instead of defecting to another party when their party don’t favour them because the ideologies of another party don’t tally with their character.
However, in Nigeria, political parties are riddled with ideological confusion, internal crisis and lack of capacity to sustain itself. This is the reason while politicians will defect to other parties, form another and even merge with another and yet still find themselves doing the same thing as the other parties. One cannot tell the difference between APC and PDP because they are all birds of the same feather lacking party ideology. Parties like these can only breed wicked and greedy politicians who see politics as a profession, becuase nothing ties them down to one party.
The act of defection is traceable to the emphasis on the primacy of political power. Nigerian politicians struggle for power to be able to preside over the allocation of resources solely for themselves. Ideological bankruptcy has reduced Nigerian political parties to a mere organisation that considers wealth as loyalty to the party. Defection is part of the reason why we keep going in a circle in this country because the same thieves that left PDP are the same thieves still joining APC. The sooner a law is passed that preach “One man one party till death do you part”, the sooner we will break this circle of underdevelopment, poor infrastructure, poor healthcare, extreme poverty, etc. and to this, I say #EndPartyDefectioninNigeria.