DEFECTION OF PDP MEMBERS: AN OLD WINE IN A NEW WINE SKIN
Since the return to democracy in 1999, a single party has dominated the political scene and has remained relevant till date. One must state here that the PDP like other parties at that time, was not established with any clear cut ideology. They were merely created as a platform to transform Nigeria from military to civilian rule. Thus, these political parties were hurriedly put together, because of the peculiar circumstances at that time. This lack of ideological structures, has seen parties like the Alliance for Democracy (AD), All People Party (APP), disappear into thing air. Although some of them metamorphosed into other parties through change names, their existence was short lived because the ideological frame work required to form a party remains lacking.
In fairness to Nigerians, one cannot accuse them of being ignorant of the fact that these parties were ideologically depraved. The parties came at a time when the Military held sway and Nigerians were more than willing to accept anything, to save themselves from the pains and agony of Military rule. So, the people were left with no choice than to accept things as they were. If Nigerians think a change from Military to civilian rule will mean a change in their standard of living and circumstances generally, they were gravely mistaken. We elected a President who did not give a hoot about the people's welfare and his tenure was characterized by subversion of the constitution, widespread corruption, abuse of office, clamp down of perceived political opponents and enemies. In fact Nigerians witnessed massive political killings, that remain a mystery as our security outfits are yet to unravel or arrest the killers. To make things worse, he sought to perpetuate himself in power, when this failed, he imposed a sick president on us. His party, the Peoples Democratic Party, gave him the nudge to go ahead.
In the midst of all these, the opposition parties merely looked on. Well the truth is, the opposition parties didn't just look on, they were powerless! Most of these parties simply existed because of what they were getting as grants from INEC. Another reason is because most opposition parties were an extension of the PDP, that is why a man like Chief Don Etiebet, a strong member of the PDP, will be the National Chairman of All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP). Immediately after his tenure as ANPP Chairman, what did he do? He returned to base! There was also the problem of proliferation of opposition political parties, which made it difficult for them to pose a serious challenge to the PDP, a party which has become an albatross, and is leading Nigeria into the Lagoon.
This situation made well meaning Nigerians including yours sincerely, to call for a two party system, and an opportunity for Independent Candidacy. The reason for this call is not far fetched, we need a robust opposition party that can stand up to the PDP. We believe that the PDP cannot withstand a party that is ideologically driven and grass roots oriented. We do not seek a party that would merely wrestle political power from the PDP. No, we want a party that is rooted on ideology and is pro people. Unfortunately the door for an independent candidate was shut during the last amendment of the 1999 constitution, and the quest for an ideologically driven opposition party, remains a mirage.
We are indeed not comfortable when people say that the All Progressive Congress (APC), is that party we seek. The APC is a political party made up of people whose primary objective is to wrestle power from the PDP, and not about delivering good governance to the people. It manifests a clear disconnect between the party and the people. What the people want is not just another party, but a party that will uphold the tenets of democracy where the people will enjoy the dividends of democracy. A party can only achieve this if it is founded on clear cut ideology. Sadly, this is grossly lacking in the APC. The leaders of the APC as it stands, are those who have had an opportunity of leading before, and their performance remains poor, just like the PDP leaders. And in States where the APC holds sway, the people have not fared any better.
The APC in its quest to wrestle power from the PDP, has been romancing with all kinds of people, including those who have brought Nigeria to its knees. This is why I am amused when people openly celebrate the defection of certain individuals to the APC. One is inclined to ask, are these not the people who destroyed Nigeria under the PDP? How can someone we all tagged a criminal under the PDP become a saint under the APC? Is this what the APC is created for, to celebrate criminals and wear them the garb of sainthood? I laughed when Asiwaju Bola Tinubu praised the 37 members of the House of Representatives and the G5 governors, who defected from the PDP to the APC, as patriotic. Is that the level patriotism has degenerated to? I know the APC will roll out its drums to celebrate the 'triumphant' entry of men like Alamasiegha and James Ibori, and Tinubu will be there to wear them the cloak of saints and sing their praise to high heavens. I won't be surprised therefore, if the APC is already planning to visit a Prison in London.
The defection of these people to the APC therefore is just like an old wine in a new wine skin. Nothing has changed and nothing will change. They will not stop stealing and embezzling our resources, they will not build good roads, nor good schools nor hospitals. They will not stop sending their children to schools abroad. The only thing that will change is that they will share our resources with a different political party. Nigerians must be alive their the responsibility and must not repeat the mistakes of 1999. If we voted for a party because we wanted a change to civilian rule, we must not vote a party because we want to merely change the party in power. We must elect a leader in the true sense of the word, no matter where he comes from or who he is, not minding his party. The APC should also know that the people are no longer gullible. What we need is not a change of party, but an installation of democratic tenets, where the will of the people reigns supreme. If it is not ready to provide this, then let it dissolve itself and become relegated to the zone of pretenders and not contenders. God bless Nigeria.
Frank O. Ijege
@foijege on twitter