April 9, 2015 by Kambili M.A. Chimalu
The Nigerian presidential election has come and gone, setting a lot of precedents in its wake. Muhammadu Buhari emerged as the person Nigerians have chosen to lead the country into a new era. Buhari has become a symbol of the rewards of persistence and hard work because with each failure, Buhari learned what didn’t work. One cannot help but admire all the calculated steps he [and his campaign team] took to first humanize and then present Buhari, the man, as Nigeria’s greatest hope. They didn’t focus on his ethnic or religious background. Instead they showed Nigerians a man who was willing to fight for our country.
In contrast to Buhari, Jonathan made a lot of miscalculations, for while Buhari toiled, Jonathan slept. While Osinbajo campaigned by mingling with ordinary Nigerians and trumpeting Buhari’s candidacy to the high heavens, Namadi Sambo dozed. While Aisha Buhari carried herself with dignity and appealed to those concerned with women’s rights, Patience Jonathan misspoke at almost every turn. Thus, from Jonathan’s miscalculations, we learn that pride goes before a fall. It is a pity that one of Jonathan’s greatest acts, thinking of Nigeria first and conceding the election, came at the twilight of his administration.
However, I am not here to talk about who won or lost the election. I want to talk about the people that make up the different parties Buhari and Jonathan front. After the results of the election were announced, I verbalized a very troubling, but astute thought:
The mass defection from PDP to APC will begin en masse in 3 … 2… 1.
True to my prediction, numerous politicians have packed up their bags and baggage from PDP and decamped to APC, prompting David Mark to remark that he will remain in PDP even if he is the last man standing. This troubling trend, to say the least, would be laughable if it weren’t so dangerous. Why are these politicians defecting from their party to APC? There are some very obvious answers: greed, opportunism, ambition, etc.
I believe that one very big problem we have in Nigerian politics is that political parties have no deep ideological convictions. For instance, in America, they have the Democratic and Republican parties, along with other minor parties. When you look at both parties, you see a clear distinction in their platforms: liberalism, conservatism, free market capitalism, government regulations, pro-life, pro-choice, more taxation, less taxation. In the UK, one sees Labour and Conservatives (Tories) as the major political parties, with very clear distinctions between the two. With these clear distinctions, the platform that each party campaigns on is very evident and voters know exactly why they are voting for each candidate.
In Nigeria, we do not enjoy this luxury because the new boss is almost always exactly like the old boss regardless of the party he/she comes from. What differentiates PDP from APC or APGA? What differentiates APGA from APC? Nothing! These parties have no platform or ideologies across the board, so I, as a Nigerian, cannot even identify with any of them. Which party aligns with things I am passionate about: the protection of the girl-child from the dictates of culture and religion, the separation of church and state, the protection of women from abuse, the end to the persecution of gay Nigerians, and the protection of the poor in our society. None!
This lack of platform, therefore, makes it easy for politicians to leap from the “losing” party to the “winning” party with reckless abandon. Imagine Mitt Romney, John McCain and Chris Christie defecting from the Republican to the Democratic party just because Obama won twice. The American public will call them out on their bullshit and they would be crucified by the media for the sudden U-turn on their beliefs. This will effectively render them unelectable because their hypocrisy will be thrown in their faces by both sides at every turn.
When I look at the politicians that defect from one party to another, I see opportunists only concerned with their own personal gain and ambitions. These politicians clearly do not have the interest of Nigeria and Nigerians at heart. It is very evident that they are only concerned with the party that will give them access to our national treasury, so that they can loot it dry.
This election has put us on the path of true democracy. We are gradually realizing that our votes actually count, so the next thing we need to do is demand that the different political parties outline their platforms and manifestos. What cause will be each party’s rallying cry?
The members of PDP do not need to defect to APC. What they need to do is go back to the drawing board and strategize on how to come back stronger in the next elections. In the meantime, they can act as a strong opposition to the ruling party in order to keep APC in check. If any politician decamps from PDP to APC, we truly know where his/her loyalties lie and it is NOT with Nigeria.