The registration of the All Progressives Congress received accolades as Nigerians thought it would provide a veritable opposition to the mighty Peoples Democratic Party. But Nigerians were disappointed when the APC admitted into its fold, Governors Chibuike Amaechi, Dr. Rabiu Kwankwaso, Abdulfatai Ahmed, Aliyu Wamako and Murtala Nyako of Rivers, Kano, Kwara, Sokoto and Adamawa States respectively, that defected from the PDP. The disappointment was because the APC has consistently accused the PDP of destroying the country. But if the PDP had destroyed the country why would the APC accommodate members from the PDP? One would have expected the APC to have closed its doors against anybody from the PDP since they perceived them as corrupt people. The APC should have raised a brand new group of Nigerians that have never been into partisan politics but nay they received politicians from the PDP with enthusiasm.
Again, immediately the presidential election was won by the APC, colossal members of the PDP also left the party for the APC. With the enormous members that have left the PDP for the APC, the APC has suddenly become the largest political party in the country with no opposition. The PDP which was hitherto the largest political party in Africa which also boasted to rule Nigeria for 60 years has suddenly become a shadow of itself. Thus, the irrational movement of members of political parties to other political parties portends grave danger for the Nigerian polity. The reason being the absence of a formidable opposition to the new ruling political party-APC. And any country where there is no strong opposition to the ruling party, governance is usually poor. Thus, the weakness of the PDP which is due to the mindless movement of its members to the APC should be of serious concern to all Nigerians.
Four factors encourage defection in Nigeria. The factors are lack of principles, character, accountability and sanction. The word, “principle” has three meanings but I will take the second meaning which applies to what we are discussing in this article. The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines principle as “a guiding rule for personal behaviour”. The same dictionary also defines character as “a person’s good reputation”. The word “accountability” is a noun that is derived from the adjective “accountable”. The same dictionary defines accountable as “required or an explanation of one’s action, expenditure. A man with principles will definitely have a guiding rule that will regulate his personal behaviour. He is known by the particular way he behaves or acts. Since Nigerian Politicians have no principles, they always fit into any political party. A man with principles will not fit into just any political party but the political party that satisfies and fulfills his principles of life.
Another factor that Nigerian Politicians lack is character. Character is defined above as a person’s good reputation. Do Nigerian politicians have good reputation? A good reputation is a positive opinion that the public has about somebody. Do Nigerians see their Politicians as good people? I do not think so rather, the Nigerian politicians are seen as corrupt, wasteful and unpatriotic. A man of character will not defect from his political party for another that composed dishonest people. A good reputation is better than any political office. This is because the tenure of political office is transient but a good reputation stays with a man forever. Even when the man has died, his good reputation continues to go with his children and open great opportunities for them. This is what men of character pursue in life.
Members of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party in America remain in their parties irrespective of their political ambitions. So also are those of the Labour Party and Conservative Party in the United Kingdom. In the 2008 and 2012, presidential primaries of the Democratic Party, Mr. Barrack Obama defeated Mrs. Hilary Clinton in both primaries, yet she did not defect to another political party. Mrs. Clinton later served as Secretary of State under President Obama.
Accountability is another factor that the Nigerian politicians lack. To be accountable is to give explanation on one’s actions or expenditure. Do Nigerian politicians render explanation on their actions and inactions to the masses? Do they give account of how they spend our money? They do not give account on how they spend public funds entrusted to them. Also, members who defect to other political parties are not sanctioned hence they do so with inpunity.
There are three reasons why political parties admit all kinds of people into their folds. The three reasons are: lack of ideology, manifestoes and internal democracy. If you look closely at all the political parties, you will agree with me that they all lack ideology, manifestoes and internal democracy. Ideology is a set of ideas or beliefs that are held by a particular group of people or persons. Political parties in Nigeria don’t have ideologies; they only want to hijack political power. Do the political parties have manifestoes? If they have manifestoes, what are the contents of their manifestoes? Political parties in Nigeria also lack internal democracy that is why candidates are imposed on the parties without the mandate of party delegates during party primaries.
With members of the PDP moving to the APC in droves, there will be no unyielding opposition against the APC. This is not healthy for our democracy as the APC might become complacent in its leadership which will lead to poor performance.