Between 2013 and 2014, the Nigeria polity is being over butfened by merger of different political parties and decamping of politicians from one party to the other. Several reasons however necessitated the decision of two or more parties to merge or for members to defect from one party to the other.
In some cases, common perception of different parties may be a factor in prompting such a process and most importantly, improving the efficient service delivering. Decamping from one political party to another has become a common occurrence today in the polity. Politicians across the country have been transferring their allegiance from one party to another, especially between the ruling People Democratic Party (PDP) and the leading opposition All Progressive Change (APC). But with all the mergers and defections in the polity, the question is whether they signal a positive change and development in the country.
Prior the formal registration of the All Progressives Congress (APC), several reasons were given by the defunct ACN, CPC, ANPP and APGA to merge as a single entity. Soon after the registration of the APC by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the party’s Interim National Publicity Secretary, Alhaji Lai Muhammad said in a statement that “ APC and its emergence is a victory for Nigeria and for democracy.” according to him, the formation of the party has also propelled the country to the league of top democratic nations with two major political parties.
However, the development came when many politicians including governors and member of the National Assembly are defecting from their original party to APC and various reasons were given by the decampees for transferring their allegiance to their new parties. This alignment and realignment in Nigerian politics have contributed a lot to heighten the current political tension in the country.
For instance, former Vice President Atiku Abubakar and other aggrieved members of the PDP defected from their original party to APC. They lamented that their defection was necessary because of injustice and lack of internal democracy in the PDP and so they had to switch their supports to the party where justice and recognition of party members is paramount.
Atiku in a statement said that “the PDP has since lost touch with Nigerians and effort made by many well-meaning members and stakeholders to bring it back to the vision of the founders have been rebuffed. As a former Vice President, I am, by virtue of the PDP constitution, a member of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) and its national executive committee. However, I am not invited to the meetings of those organs nor consulted on their decision. We have therefore, concluded that the party cannot be redeemed. In short, the PDP has abandoned Nigerians, the very people who gave it life and many electoral victorious.
“Following this extensive consultative process, I have therefore decided to cast my lot with the APC, a part of change committed to the improvement of lives our people and to the continued existence and development of Nigeria as one indivisible country,” he said.
Similarly, same complaints made by those who defected to APC were equally tendered by the aggrieved members of the APC who switched their allegiances to PDP. Those who have defected to the ruling party alleged that APC was not just and lacked structures which would guide the activities of the party and that few individuals were pocketing its affairs.
For instance, former governor of Kano state, Malam Ibrahim Shekarau, who recently decamped to the ruling party explained that APC had no organized structures. In his words during his official defection to the PDP, Shekarau said, “ after six month, no structure was found anywhere. We cannot belong to such, where caricature of management is found. We challenged the leadership of APC to tell us why the constitution and manifestos of the party is not found on the street of Nigeria. Politics is not only about contesting and winning elections nor it is getting public offices alone, but a platform to get the people to participating on nation building.
“ As we are stepping into PDP, the party has made some amendments and looked inward. We are solidly behind the leadership of the party. We will all contribute to the development of the country in general” Shekarau added.
However, observers on the current political terrain are divided as to whether or not the merger of political parties and decamping predict positive development in the country. According to a human right activist and political analyst, Barrister Solomon Dalong, merger of political parties and decamping of politicians from one party to another is a good development in the Nigerian polity because the country had never witnessed this kind politics.
Dalong said “defection of governors and members of the House of Representatives, particularly from the ruling party to opposition party would definitely make the party at the center to adjust. Nigeria is experiencing dead leadership and if this political scenario had not taken place, the situation would have been a different thing completely.
“Defection from one party to another may make or mar one’s political carrier. This is because only politicians who have positive mind and sense of development would defect from the ruling party to an opposition party and this tells you that whoever behaves that way is a progressive minded person.”
But, Dr Yakubu Ozohu Suleiman of the Department of Mass Communication, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, is of the opinion that the merger of different parties and movement of politicians from one party to another would not make any positive meaning towards the development of the country and its citizens.
He said those who engage in defecting are either hopeless in their original parties or intend to increase their chances of winning election but had no relationship with positive development, adding that merging parties into one was not always in the interest of people but in the interest of certain individuals who want to their personal objectives.
He said “experience has shown that politicians in Nigerian always work toward their political interests rather than the development of the nation. So, once they engage in switching and merging, they are either hopeless or want to intensify the possibilities of having attaining leadership but not because it has bearing with political or positive development in the country. They only pretend to be what they are not”.
Checks however revealed that in the alignment and realignment process, no politician is showing meaningful concerns about the current security problems and provision of infrastructures. No one is talking about free education, health care system among others. The question Nigerians are asking: is the struggle by these politicians in favor of common Nigerians or in their personal interests?