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Waves Of Defection To APC Not Good For Nigeria’s Democracy

By Olawale Rotimi
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Since the All Progressive Congress presidential candidate emerged victorious at the March 28th Presidential election in Nigeria, sudden defection started hitting political parties who lost at the presidential polls, particularly, the outgoing ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party. Prior to victory of APC at the presidential polls, there was an outburst of hate, provocative and divisive commentaries from vibrant members of the People’sDemocratic Party against the APC. However, it’s shocking and unfortunate that these vibrant members of the PDP have rushed to APC after the former suffered defeat at the polls.

This limits Nigeria’s political participation to a matter of individual’s quick interest and not tenable ideology capable of reforming a society. Political parties are indispensible in democracy; however, political parties are primarily designed to function as an ideological movement. Thus, the membership of a political party shouldn’t be determined by the party’s victory or defeat, but the founding ideologies of such party which form the tenets of the party. Unfortunately, the case in Nigeria reflects the opposite. It’s alarming to note that more big wigs of the People’s Democratic Party who worked seriously for the re-election bid of President Goodluck Jonathan defected to the All Progressive Congress less than two weeks after PDP suffered defeat.

There have been various expedient arguments for and against this development but none seem to be considering the damage the defection will do to Nigeria’s democracy. The desperate and swift defection of PDP members to APC will weaken opposition strength in Nigeria, leaving APC as the dominant party, unchecked by opposition. The non-existence of a vibrant opposition in a democracy leaves the ruling party unchecked. No real democracy without opposition. The lack of vibrant opposition denies the people of their political voices. This has led to violence in some nations of the world including Egypt and Syria. For emerging democracies around the world, the opposition has been playing an increasingly important role in shaping policy agenda and fighting corruption.

The role played by APC while an opposition party cannot be undermined in the history of Nigeria’s democracy. Its vibrancy checked the ruling party, educated and made the people bold to speak about government activities through various media. Even though, the PDP mounted some restrictions against the APC, the party succeeded in gaining the masses’ confidence through its activeness. After elections, politicians who are defeated generally tend to disappear and are hardly seen again until next poll. In other case, the defeated politicians defect to the ruling party. The latter is what we are witnessing today in Nigeria, which is systematically turning the nation into a one party state.

Since opposition holds the incumbent government accountable for its commissions and omissions, and serves as watchdog to ensure the government acts within the scope of the law, pointing out corruption and nepotism cases, the absence of a vibrant opposition in Nigeria implies that the incumbent will be unchecked, therefore, finds it easy to commit and omit anything that will serve its interest, even when it is against the wish of the people. To this end, decamping to APC because the party won the presidential polls and it could serve as platform to arrive at some selfish ends is condemnable; emptying the opposition party weakens the ability to check the incumbent government and makes the ruling party a sort of “overlord” over the people.

Olawale Rotimi