Defection and the Nigerian Political Space!

Nigeria | Political | 22nd September 2021 | Virtual Wire


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For decades now, Nigerian politicians have been in the constant habit of switching from one political party to the other.

This practice is known as cross carpeting in Nigeria, a practice which dates back to 1951 when some notable Yoruba members of the AG (Action Group) left the NCNC (National Council for Nigeria and Cameroon) to stop an Igbo man from becoming the Premiere of the Western Region after the NCNC had won 42 out of the 80 seats in the nations House of Assembly.

This gave Chief Obafemi Awolowo the needed votes to claim the seat which would have gone to Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe had the Yoruba members of his party not defected, and it happened within 24 hours! Since then, defections has no longer been news in the Nigerian political space, though some had been a surprise to the Nigerian electorates. It must be noted that these defections have barely little or nothing to do with the party's ideology or the need to serve the citizens better, rather, it is merely for selfish interest.

Senators, House members at both the upper and lower chambers, governors, commissioners, and even ward councillors had at one time or the other defected from one party to the other, in fact, some have at some points not only defected, but also gone back to the first party they once left. The timing for such defections are not certain. Some politicians cross carpet ahead of elections, others do so after an election, while some defects at any given time, which has added to the unpredictable nature of the Nigerian politician and their loyalty to a given party.

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In Nigeria today, many citizens believe that one of the reasons for switching over to the party in power is to shield corrupt politicians from facing charges of corruption levelled against them, and this singular belief has not been proven otherwise as there are some of them who since their defection have seen their charges swept under the carpet. Such politicians like Joshua Dariye, Adebayo Alao-Akala, Godswill Akpabio, David Umahi and so many others whose charges with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) an anti graft agency of the federal government are currently forgotten.

Recently, a notable Nigerian politician of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) - Femi Fani Kayode (FFK) who has used every medium of communication to criticize the ruling All Progress Congress (APC) has left the PDP to the APC, a move which caused an uproar in the Nigerian social media space. His defection was one that was least expected as he has before then made himself an enemy of the ruling party by calling them all sort of names.

As if that was not enough, barely 48 hours after the defection of Femi Fani Kayode, Senator Shehu Sani who was elected a senator on the platform of the All Progressive Congress (APC) and represented Kaduna South senatorial zone in the 8th Assembly which lasted from 2015-2019 and later joined the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) to contest in the last election defects to the PDP. His defection though not as criticized as that of FFK, received more of a commendation from well-meaning Nigerians who sees him as a honorable statesman and a worthy patriot.

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It should be recalled that Senator Shehu Sani had before now lost confidence in the ruling party, especially in the issue of insurgency and banditry that has ravaged his senatorial zone, and the matter with which the federal government is handling it. Despite the fact that the possibility of holding the presidential election come 2023 is still very slim due to the current level of agitations for a referendum in the South and in the East, insurgency and banditry in the North and the high cost of living, Nigerians are still expecting more defections from the politicians before the next election.

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