After vowing publicly to remain in their political parties, the 11 politicians ate their words; switched alliances in apparent moves to remain relevant in the political scene or contest election.
Although no law bars politicians from cross-carpeting, analysts described the situation as political prostitution, saying it shows lack of ideology on the parts of Nigerian politicians.
Aside these 11 politicians, hundreds of others have defected from their parties. The public vows by the 11 politicians distinguished them.
Leading in the breaking of vows is a former vice president, Atiku Abubakar. A serial presidential contestant, in 2015, Atiku, who played a critical role in the formation of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), said, “When I toured our country and listened to the hopes, fears, and expectations of Nigerians from all walks of life, I said the APC is the final bus stop, and that it is the end of the line.”
But while defecting to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in 2019, Atiku sang another song, saying, “The party we put in place has failed and continues to fail our people, especially our young people. How can we have a federal cabinet without even one youth? A party that does not take the youth into account is a dying party. The future belongs to young people.”
Aminu Waziri Tambuwal
Like Atiku, the Sokoto State governor, Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, in 2014, while ditching the PDP for the APC, said, “Based on the provision of the 1999 constitution and having regard to the development of the PDP in my own state, Sokoto, I hereby announce my membership of the All Progressives Congress’’
Tambuwal, at the buildup to the 2019 elections, following his rift with his godfather, Aliyu Wamakko, said, “It is because I am convinced that no nation can thrive while there is inequity and bad governance; because I am saddened by the fact that lethargy, incompetence and sustained denial of obvious leadership missteps have become the major raw materials with which Nigeria is being run today.”
Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso
Kwankwaso was for many years a chieftain of the PDP. He was elected governor of Kano State under the platform twice – 1999 and 2011. In 2014, he dumped the party for the APC.
When it was rumoured that he was planning to jump ship back to APC, in 2017, Kwankwaso described the rumours as “malicious”
His Chief of Staff, Comrade Aminu Abdussalam said at the time: “We have not at any time contemplated leaving the APC. We were surprised and deeply appalled when we read the story”.
He, however later returned to the PDP. While returning to the PDP he also said, “I am a free man now and available to try my luck elsewhere. I know that the PDP is the biggest party, and as long as they follow democratic principles, Buhari will easily be defeated, but if they handpick and force any candidate on the party, they will fail.
Ortom, the incumbent governor of Benue State, joined the APC shortly before the 2015 general elections and won the governorship election on the platform of the party. He said at the time, “It was common knowledge that the entire nomination process was fraught with injustice from the beginning when it was obvious that a decision was taken to deliberately disenfranchise the larger number of party members at the ward congresses, having exhausted every opportunity within the PDP, it became imperative to utilise an alternative platform.”
But when the going became sour, Ortom ate his words, saying, “I have issues, and the national leadership of the APC was aware. I have consulted my constituents, including the 276 councillors that are here. Apart from the Tarka chairman that said she was going to consult, all others have said that my stay in APC is no longer acceptable,”
This ‘uncommon’ politician dumped the PDP in an uncommon way while serving as the minority leader of the party at the Senate in 2018. While in the PDP, Akpabio, who was Akwa Ibom governor twice, said, “So, this party (PDP) belongs to Nigerians. So, if one Nigerian leaves the part, another Nigerian comes, the party goes on.”
But while dumping the party in 2018, Akpabio said, “The PDP of today has no vision and the leadership is replete with arrogance.”
The latest darling of the APC is Femi Fani-Kayode, who was a founding member of the party. He returned to the PDP shortly before the 2015 general elections. For six years, he tongue-lashed the party, saying, “With what we have witnessed, l would rather die than join a filthy, rat-infested sinking ship like the Almajiri Peoples’ Congress (APC).”
But while returning to the APC last month, he said, “It is not always negative, and when the time is right we change direction to join forces and join hands to move the country forward.”
Matawalle became the governor of Zamfara State after losing the 2019 governorship election, thanks to the Supreme Court judgement on the internal wrangling that rocked the APC in the state.
In 2019, he vowed not to dump the PDP, saying, “If I ever betray the PDP, may I not live in peace for the rest of my life, I swear by Allah. If I can leave the PDP or cheat any of our members, may Allah punish me.”
But he has since crossed to the APC. Matawalle, while joining the ruling party in June this year, said, “Politics is about interest and confidence. Many of the politicians have changed from one party to another, so it is not a new thing. I decided to change so that I can bring more peace to my state.”
Ayade is the governor of Cross River State. In October 2019, after winning his governorship election, he said, “The party (APC) in the state is notorious for lies. Funny that a party like the APC, which prides itself as a major opposition, cannot engage the governor on governance issues but chooses to lie to score cheap political points.”
But while joining the APC in May this year, he said, “Having seen and known the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and his commitment to this country, his nationalistic disposition and all the efforts he has made to bring Nigeria to where we are today, it is obvious that at this point we need to join hands with him to build a Nigeria we can be proud of.”
Umahi is the governor of Ebonyi State and chairman of the South-East Governors Forum. In 2018, he said, “People that jump from one party to another should examine their characters unless there is any problem within your party. As at today and tomorrow, and till Christ comes, there will be no crisis in the PDP, so there is no reason for me to leave.”
Like others who broke their vows, Umahi, in November last year, said, “It is absurd that since 1999, going to 2023, the South-East will never be considered to run for presidency under the PDP. And this is my position and will continue to be my position. It had nothing to do with me or my ambition.”
Shortly after emerging as the governor of Edo State, Obaseki had issues with his predecessor, Adams Oshiomhole. Throughout his first tenure, it was from one battle to another. In October, 2019, Obaseki said, “If a handful of individuals start misbehaving and feel we will leave the party for them; they will be the ones to leave.’’
In July 2021, Obaseki, who won his second term on the platform of the PDP, said, “From all indications, it is clear that the PDP remains the party that provides the appropriate platform, outlook and sense of direction to return our country to her pride of place in the comity of nations.”
Obi was a governor of Anambra State on the platform of the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA). In March 2013 he said, “If you count those who have sacrificed for the APGA, there is no way you will do that without mentioning me. I am not claiming to have formed the APGA but I have sacrificed for it. If I leave it, I leave politics.”
But in 2014, he said, “Everyone knows today that the APGA is not what it used to be. My assurance to our great leader did not imply that I would be loyal to a platform that some people have resolved to turn into an empty shell without an inner core of shared values.” Obi was the running mate to Atiku Abubakar on the platform of the PDP.
It shows lack of ideology – Dons
Speaking on the issue, the national president of the Nigerian Political Science Association (NPSA), Professor Hassan Saliu, blamed the situation on the level of political development in the country.
“We have to look at the issue from a broader perspective. In political science and sociology, there is what we call social contract, which is the bond that should exist between the leader and the led, like the promise made to the electorate, which they look forward to.
“If those promises are delivered, the level of the social contract will be enhanced and weak if they failed.
“In the Nigerian context and even under our democracy, there is less visible social contract. Politicians make promises they know they will not fulfill, and the people are so poor that they can’t stand the rigours of asking questions or demand for their rights, leaving the politicians to get away with anything.
“So, while failure to keep promises is bad, it is, however, a reflection of the level of our political development.
“For Nigeria to politically develop, there must be robust culture. But sadly, the culture today for our politicians is how to loot. We have seen less of vision and rapid development from them across all the parties, with the exception of very few that are conscious of their historical responsibility to the society.
“Majority are just looking for the opportunity to sustain their comfort zones. It is a pity that this is where we are today,” he submitted.
On his part, Dr Adebola Bakare, a political scientist from the University of Ilorin, attributed the issue to interest on the part of the leaders and high prevalence of poverty on the side of followers.
He said, “Politics is about interest; and there is no permanent enemy but permanent interest. An average politician in Nigeria is driven by interest; hence we should not take whatever they say as their word because it is not their bond. Their bond is interest.
“For this reason, they will always move to any political party that can protect their interests. Remember that political parties here are not based on ideology.
“Look at the APC, for instance; almost 80 per cent of the people ruling Nigeria today defected from the PDP. And by 2023, we don’t know what will happen – should the PDP win, 90 per cent of those in the APC now will move to that place to achieve their interests. A classic example is the case of the former minister of aviation, Femi Fani Kayode.
“I don’t want to say very few, hardly can you take the word of any politician in Nigeria today seriously. Moreover, it is only in Nigeria and some African countries that people take politics as a job. How can you describe yourself as a professional politician?
“So because they have the followership they can defect to anywhere and be received. They make money there and acquire the economic means to perpetually put their followers under their control.
“But if the leaders defect and their followers refuse to go with them, they will sit where they are as they are useless without their followers,” he noted.
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