DIMENSIONS TO CROSS-CARPETING: KWARA AS A FOCUS
Cross-carpeting is a common phenomenon of switching political party; just as human beings change environment to seek a better life, politicians and political office holders also change political party for various purposes. This is a common but interesting trend in Nigerian politics which many has seen as an integral part of a functioning democratic system and also a method of measuring a performing party aided by the constitutional right to associate with any political party of your choice.
The PDP, ACN and among other parties in recent times continue to exert authority with the large numbers of decampees, especially in the battle for supremacy. Of course, these choices could be strongly influenced by a large number of politically motivated reasons. Policy disagreement, politics of godfathers, tribal and regional sentiments and personal conflicts are but a few of such peccadilloes. Back in the days, what we usually witness is the occasional parliamentarian decamp, but today, it’s like a virus, the alarming rate of defects to another party cringes on the lack of strong party political ideology and the provisions so provided by the 1999 constitution amendment which allows serving politicians to decamp to other parties under certain conditions.
This is the Nigerian situation, keenly handled the Nigerian way. Political parties across the states take advantage of conflict in opposition parties, internal rancour, power tussle and bitter rivalries to woo disgruntled members to their fold, while others take advantage of a weak or lack of virile opposition to strengthen existing members and win bystanders desirous of changes and development.
In Kwara State, the spate of mass defection from the Action Congress of Nigeria and other parties to the ruling party, People Democratic Party must be giving the opposition a sleepless night ahead of the Offa re-run Local government election and the general election in 2015. This has become a more terrible fate as the Kwara State chapter of ACN is set to be used as a litmus test for the APC merger. Penultimate weekend, over 700 opposition party officials majorly from the Action Congress of Nigeria and non party members joined the state’s chapter of the PDP. You will recall that in December 2012, three ACN supervisory councillors in Offa also defected to the ruling party describing their former party as moribund. This was to be followed in that order with 150 members of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN ) in Balogun ward of Offa Local government area dumping their party for PDP earlier this month.
Cross-carpeting by non politician no doubt poses a threat to the stability of the multi-party system; it is arguably as a result of the malaise in our democratic system, evidenced by the bankruptcy of political belief, policies and ideals in opposition party most especially in Kwara State. The hallmark of the stable and peaceful headship enjoyed by the People’s Democratic Party in Kwara is the political sagacity and leadership experience of the former Governor of the State, now a Senator on Environment and Ecology Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki. The most intriguing aspect of this phenomenon in a state like Kwara has been the participation of the youth, who until recently had stood largely outside the political stream, with localised concerns and predominantly conservative political outlook. This is not a sudden event, it has its root in the momentous and quality effort laid as foundation by the Kwara government.
The intimidating potentials of the PDP in Kwara are thoroughly overbearing, the party structural alignment to meet the yearnings of the people by providing a sense of belonging to the minor and major stakeholders in the State is second to none. This is responsible for the reasons opposition parties in Kwara are angling to join the ruling party purely for self aggrandizement rather than attempt to build a strong party structure like the PDP . What then is expected of the followers?
While Senator Bukola Saraki continues to devote his effort to good governance and ensure that PDP is firmly rooted in the state, the opposition party continues to wallow in self pity, blaming everyone else for their travesty. We need not look further to see the various empowerment programs going on in the state which informed their decision to pitch the tent with the progressives in the quest to ensure the Kwara of their dreams. It is certain that the opposition parties in Kwara need to position themselves better mindful of the loopholes rather than continue to dwell in the blame game while its members are fleeing for a well structured, untiring, organised PDP in the State.
Written By Wale Bakare