Coping with internally displaced politicians
Apart from the victims of insurgency in the Northeast, who have been displaced from their communities, and are now quartered, in camps, there is another set of displaced Nigerians, who need urgent accommodation. They are the Internally Displaced Politicians, also using the same IDPs acronym. While the real IDPs are displaced for no fault of theirs, with their homes degraded by Boko Haram and their sources of incomes destroyed, the second set comprises political parasites that cannot afford to stay away from power for just four years. They are leeches that want to perpetually suck and drain the federation account.
But they have the backing of the Constitution to roam like herdsmen, even as the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) is unable to charge them for loitering and constituting political nuisance. INEC is constitutionally empowered to license political parties and regulate their activities, but INEC has been too overwhelmed with managing elections to take on the added job of monitoring delinquent adults. The judiciary is also unable to intervene, because as politicians prepare to move from one party to the other, they first make a waste of the former, so that they have a perfect alibi in court for defecting. Once a party is factionalised, the constitution in Section 68 (1) (g) has established a basis for members to migrate to other parties that are yet to disintegrate. That is in addition to the provision that persons have the right to belong to associations, provided they are not secret societies.
The party system, since 1999 has been fluid and permanently in a state of construction and reconstruction. That affects the integrity of the entire political system, because parties that have no serious governance rules have equally produced governments that are useless to the people. The politicians are only looking for avenues to present themselves for elections. They are after the offices and the budgets attached to them, while the political system is not allowed to grow beyond electioneering.
It appears that if there are no deliberate controls to enforce political discipline among the political class, the party system cannot experience growth beyond the ritual of presenting candidates for periodic elections, and then sharing offices and allocating budgets. That could have grave consequences for the polity. We are going towards mid-term and the season is agog with transfers and defections. Those who are leaving the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for the All Progressives Congress (APC) are doing so with reckless abandon. As far as they are concerned, they are through with PDP, after it gave them the platform and prominence. The APC is the new bride in town and all roads lead there.
Now, I am more concerned for the APC, because it does not have the capacity to house everybody. When the legacy partners toiled to build the APC, they did that in the belief that a political party can serve other purposes beyond elections. The APC manifesto promised a development plan for the country, in the manner of progressive parties of yore. In the 16 years that the PDP managed the affairs of the country, there was no decisive step to put the country on the road to progress and greatness. It was all about winning elections, which made the PDP to annex the other parties – Alliance for Democracy (AD) and the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP).
The APC now appears set to travel that same road, which brought PDP to perdition and ruin. If the PDP had concentrated its energy on delivering good governance to Nigerians, without aiming to become Africa’s largest, yet empty party, there probably wouldn’t have been room and need for the coalition that birthed APC. My advice to the APC is not to allow itself be misled by defectors from the PDP or from the other idle parties to measure its greatness in quantitative terms; that is, from a gargantuan size. The APC is already big and should not be misled by a few political merchants into zones and states, where it does not have connection with the people. As the party concentrates on its programmes, connection with the people would come naturally, if it must.
In the Southeast, the gale of defection is deafening and embarrassing, too. Those who benefitted hugely from the PDP government of 16 years are now enlisting into APC. Those who used their mouths to curse the day APC was formed are now eating their words. And they come with all sorts of baggage, which the APC should not accommodate. If you give them one inch, they will demand a yard of space to ply their subversive trade.
While former president Obasanjo, in his sagely wisdom and gift of clairvoyance has made allowance for a president of Southeast extraction, come 2019, these self-serving politicians from the zone have rejected the prediction. They have become the first zone to earnestly yearn for president Buhari’s second term in 2019. They have now shifted their quest for Igbo president to 2023, after Buhari would have completed two terms of eight years. In their greed and defective calculation, it does not occur to them to ponder whether Buhari will be interested and capable to embark on the rigours of another four years after this hectic one.
In their mercantilist machination, which is devoid of common sense, they want to disrupt the relative peace in the Southeast. They want to force APC on the people and uproot the only political party that is native to the political zone. They are bent on routing the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), which is doing well in Anambra, which brought Rochas Okoracha into office as Imo governor in 2011, before he jumped ship. Now they want to suffocate Willie Obiano, one of Nigeria’s best in terms of governance. The man is focused and with a rich background in the private sector, just like his predecessor, Peter Obi. I wouldn’t know the details of how he misapplied the political fortune bequeathed to him in APGA that has made it so convenient for political opportunists to now crowd him, threatening his second term. But as far as delivery is concerned, I think Obiano should be encouraged to consolidate. But the APC scavengers in the zone will hear none of that. They want to capture Southeast by force for their new party, so that they will be ‘in the political mainstream of Nigeria.’ But I pray Anambra voters will prove them wrong.
Governors of the zone, who were elected on the ticket of the PDP are now confused, especially because they were originally chicken-hearted. They, too, want to join the APC, so that their second term may be guaranteed, instead of working hard to gain voters’ confidence. If INEC is up and doing and the security agencies do their work without bias, you do not need to belong to APC to win election at the state level.
In the Second republic, it was the same gimmick the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) used to infiltrate states that were securely under the Nigeria Peoples Party (NPP), ably led by the late Owelle, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. The NPN used the presidential pardon granted former Biafran leader, Dim Odimegwu Ojukwu to break into the zone.
Given the failed federal structure and the poor administration of the presidential system, there is no better time than now for regions to grow their own parties. If there are genuine needs to coalesce and go mega, such parties can then realign. The Southwest must have seen the folly in surrendering everything for a mega national party, seeing the way the APC has turned out. However, it must be noted that those who joined the APC from the Southwest did not do so because they wanted immediate food on their tables. They volunteered to lead from the front because the PDP did not give Nigeria something good to hope for. They invested heavily in the APC as founders, not as latter day opportunistic joiners.
Therefore, the APC must not be greedy to see these wreckages of the former party as real assets. They are actually troublemakers of no fixed address. They will bring trouble to the party. And when they wreck APC, God forbids, they will anchor somewhere else. Flotsam is their real name!