The Oasis Reporters
January 21, 2021
By Sir Don Ubani; KSC, JP
Okwubunka of Asa.
Political Party formation in Nigeria is traceable to the introduction of Four Elective Seats, three for Lagos and one for Calabar, by Sir Hugh Clifford’s Constitution of 1922. It was this Constitution that created the first Legislative Council in Nigeria.
Sequel to that constitutional development, Engr Herbert Macaulay formed the first Political Party named Nigerian National Democratic Party, NNDP in the same1922.
NNDP’s Candidates; (1) Egerton Shyngle, (2) Eric Moore and (3) Crispain Adeniyi Jones won the three Seats for Lagos while the only Seat for Calabar was won by an independent candidate by the name, A. Archibong.
By 1951, Sir John MacPherson midwifed a Constitution that sought to accord ‘Semi Responsibility in the governmental affairs of Nigeria. Infact, the MacPherson Constitution of 1951 was tailored towards ‘Africanizing the Public Service’.
It was in the course of implementing or putting to practical test the MacPherson Constitution, through election in the defunct Western Regional House of Assembly, that the first case of Inter-Party Defection was said to have taken place on the floor of Western House of Assembly. In the subsequent 1951 general election, the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons, NCNC, led by Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, was said to have won majority of seats in Western Nigeria Regional Assembly and was expectedly set to form the Government of Western Nigeria, with Dr Namdi Azikiwe as Leader of Government Business.
That expectation reportedly could not materialize as Chief Obafemi Awolowo, using his position as Leader of Action Group, AG, influenced some elected Yoruba Members of NCNC to defect to AG on the day of inauguration of the Western House, which was on January 7, 1952. It was that defection that became known as ‘Carpet Crossing’ of 1952 and that marked the birth of defection in Nigerian Politics.
Defection has since been part, call it integral part, of Nigerian Politics. It was rampant amongst the Second Republic Politicians of National Party of Nigeria, NPN, Unity Party of Nigeria, UPN, Nigerian People’s Party, NPP, People’s Redemption Party, PRP and Great Nigerian People’s Party, GNPP.
If there is any time that defection could be said to have been most prominently notorious in Nigeria’s politics, it is in this political dispensation, that is from 1999 to 2021. There is hardly any quarter that the Nigerian media space does not get prominently occupied with news of some political actors either leaving their Political Party for another one or quitting the Party they had defected to and returning to their former Party
A critical survey on Party Defection marks out four categories in ‘Political Harlotry’. The first are the ones that are motivated by principle. Such actors could have their actions justified by their desire to resist inequity and injustice in their Party and having fought to no avail are frustrated to leave the Party, mostly out of dejection, to try and take advantage of privilege of Alternative.
The Second Category could be said to be those with Inordinate ambition and so, are blind-folded by desperation. In this case, such people try to swim even against the tide of essential political ingredients and fundamental considerations which, necessarily, can not and should not fly in their Party. Out of sheer greed, such people defect to another Political Party.
There is the third category that could aptly be described as the kleptomaniacs. In this category are found corrupt top government officials who looted their States, Ministries or Agencies dry and believe their only protective option would be found in joining a Political Party in Power at the Center.
Fourthly, there are Politicians who have almost Zero Mental Capacity. They are incapable of thinking for themselves. Therefore, their Political Pendulum is rotated by the thoughts of others.
Defection is not restricted to politics. Even in religion or Churches, there are equally many unstable characters. Such people run from one Church or religion to another, thereby causing confusion and instability. In the case of the Church it is called Apostasy or Renunciation.
Not quite long ago, a tiny section of the Media, especially the Social Media, occupied some of their spaces with ‘news of defection by one or two members of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, in Abia State to All Progressive Congress, APC.
A look at the two persons mentioned in the defection saga shows that the defectors belong to the second category that had been mentioned earlier. They are people ruled by inordinate ambition. Not minding that general election of 2023 still has two years ahead of it, they wanted to extricate a commitment from the Governor and Leader of the Party that Party tickets for House of Representatives have automatically been reserved for them in their respective constituencies. The two persons are known to be inconsiderate individuals who put their political pursuit against any collective interest of their constituencies. As long as the two are concerned, it is either their interest is realized or nothing else. Even zoning and fundamental sensibilities in their respective constituencies do not, in anyway, matter to them.
The truth of the matter is that their exit from the Peoples Democratic Party is a good omen to the Party. Their defection will be an open door for a great influx into PDP. This is due to their known antecedents.
On the feeling that APC is gaining grounds in Abia-North Senatorial district of Abia State, it would be quite prompt to put that unfounded erroneous impression to where it actually belongs to.
In the first instance, Abia-North is known to have a highly educated, enlightened and exposed political class. Apart from their well-known political ascendancy, the people have a deep-rooted sense of history. Any person that thinks that Abia-North could suffer from any iota of amnesia, as long as their political trajectory is concerned, would be making the worst mistake of his or her life.
Politics, take it or leave it, is all about interest. Even in contemporary politics, no politician worth his salt dismisses his or her past with levity. It is only an ungrateful person or group that easily forgets relationships of the past, especially relationship that was justifiably anchored in equity and reciprocity, not selfish or self centered exploitative relationship.
Going just a little down memory lane, one would quickly recollect that it was PDP that made it possible for Abia-North to produce a Governor of Abia State from May 1999 to May 2007. Even though his tenure was totally bizarre, as time had severally proved, not minding resort to judicial technicalities and that he failed entirely to leave any remarkable legacy of development in the length and breathe of Abia-North, the truth remains that PDP provided the vehicle through which an indigene of Abia-North ruled Abia State for Eight Consecutive Years.
It was the same PDP that created the political ambience that saw the conceptualization of Rt Hon Ude Oko Chukwu, an illustrious Son of Abia-North, as Speaker of Abia State House of Assembly from 2011 to 2015. To the glory of God Almighty, the Rt Hon Ude Oko Chukwu is peacefully, harmoniously, efficiently and effectively serving his second tenure as Deputy Governor of the State under Governor Okezie Victor Ikpeazu.
Who would forget in a jiffy that it was PDP that successfully gave teeth to the Senatorial aspirations of great sons of Abia-North, such as General Ike Omar Sandra Nwachukwu, Comrade Uche Chukwumereije and Senator Mao Ohuabunwa? The three were remarkably distinct in the Senate. Their pyrotechnics in the Red Chambers left every Igbo Man with a bubbling sense of pride and satisfaction.
If the above could just have been forgotten, should the appointment of Lt-General Azubuike Ihejirika as Chief of Army Staff, the only Igbo Man to be so appointed after Major-General J T U Aguiyi Ironsi, courtesy of President Goodluck Jonathan’s PDP Government be forgotten?
There is no basis, whatsoever, for any right-thinking person to feel that Abia-North will fall to APC. The 2019 election in Abia-North, particularly the Senatorial, should have been won fair and square by PDP but for reasons of internal wranglings, internal sabotage and violent manipulation of election result by APC, which under normal circumstances should have successfully been repelled by the PDP in Abia-North if they had been unified for a common purpose.
Surely, those that treacherously conspired against and betrayed the Party are not singing Uhuru today. It is clear no saboteur ever enjoys sustainable growth in any system. After all, the worst risk one could take is to trust or invest in a saboteur.
It would be grossly erroneous and certainly preposterous for any Abia-Northerner to think that APC can overnight, become an El Dorado. As long as verifiable records are concerned, APC has intentionally given two things to Abia-North. The first is providing illegal audacity for brutal molestation of the people of Abia-North by Fulani herdsmen who, almost on a daily basis, unjustifiably mercilessly stabbed farmers in the district just for venturing into their ancestral farms.
A recent case that went viral happened in Isiukwuato, the Land of the Generals. As at today, the road from Abia State University, Uturu to Isiukwuato has perpetually become a death trap, as criminal Fulani herdsmen are constantly on rampage on it, robbing, kidnapping and raping. The APC Security architecture has it as an unwritten policy that no criminal Fulani herdsman should ever be arrested, no matter his crime against humanity. When PDP was in power for sixteen years at the Federal level, no indigene of Abia-North was ever subjected to any form of embarrassment, not to talk of their present plight of daily brutal humiliation.
The second thing APC has done to or for Abia-North was to imprison one of their sons, Chief Orji Uzor Kalu. Despite the enormity of all he was alleged to have done against Abia State when he ruled it for sixteen years, PDP did not imprison him.
So far, there is no basis for any one to think that APC could have anything to offer to the people of Abia State. The only thing that it has, is blame game. A Political Party that has been rejected not only by Nigerians but even by nature should realize it’s time is up.
On the recent occasion of Armed Forces Remembrance Day at the Eagle’s Square in Abuja, despite all efforts made by the APC-led Government to force the symbolic pigeons fly, they bluntly refused to fly. Of course, the next thing APC resorted to was to accuse PDP of asking the birds not to fly. What a ridiculous way of reasoning!
Come to think of it, any person in Abia State contemplating leaving PDP for APC, the question that arises is, who is he or she going to meet in that Party? The challenges that confronted Abia State for many years, except now that Governor Okezie Ikpeazu is vigorously facing and addressing them, was as a result of poor governance that was prevalent from 1999-2007. Does that regime have any legacy associated with it in contemporary Abia State?
Who wants a situation where the man that ruled the State for eight consecutive years would assist produce another Governor in God’s-own State and what happened in the State between 2007 and 2010 would repeat itself in the State?
Factly-speaking, the leopard does not change its spots. No matter how a tiger may claim to have been tamed, it would be the costliest risk a goat could take accepting it and going close to it as an ally.
Abia-North, PDP is your home. It would, therefore, be unimaginable for anyone to think that an average Abia-Northerner could ever exit from his painstakingly built home, PDP, only to become a tenant of a merely precarious landlord. Time will definitely justify this piece.
Written by Sir Don Ubani.
Okwubunka of Asa.
1998 Convener, PDP Abia State.