Recently, some politicians that defected to the All Progressives Congress, APC, from the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and other political parties in Enugu State were formally received. In this piece, EMMANUEL NWEZE raises posers over the possibility of the defection affecting the fortunes of the PDP in future elections.
It has always been a culture for politicians to change political parties like wrappers. This unwholesome attitude has been going on over the years and pre-dates Nigeria’s political independence in 1960.
Nobody knows when this culture will die because once a ruling party loses election, political feather weights, political juggernauts, political contractors and desperate politicians often dump their parties to swell the ranks of the new ruling party. Such political turncoats often adduce reasons why they jettisoned their former parties for the new ones.
The reasons they adduce are variegated. Some don’t give reasons other than that it is personal to them. Some say they were wooed to cross over to the new party, while others claim that they swapped parties because of perceived injustice meted out to them in their former parties like not giving them tickets to represent their parties in an election. Whatever the reasons are, the culture has come to stay and it is gaining grounds in many parts of Nigeria with Enugu inclusive.
It is no longer news that the former governor of old Anambra State, Chief Jim Nwobodo, recently dumped the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, for the new ruling party at the centre, the All Progressives Congress, APC. Jim was not alone in saying goodbye to PDP, the former senator representing Enugu North Senatorial Zone, Chief Fidel Okoro, also dumped the PDP for APC.
These are political bigwigs in Nigeria and even Enugu State and for them to abandon their former party for the APC means that something is in the offing or that, they like Nostradamus, have seen tomorrow.
Some political pundits said Jim dumped the PDP to save his face from the odour of Dasukigate which his beautiful name would be smeared with if Buhari goes after him alongside others connected with Dasuki.
The truth of the matter is that before now, the APC hierarchy in Enugu State have been looking for Cissero-like politicians that will buy them good name since they are in opposition in the state.
State Chairman of the APC, Dr. Ben Nwoye, immediately after the 2015 general election, told journalists that they are shopping for bigwigs that would swell the ranks of the party which would prepare them to win in future elections. It is believed that it was in the spirit of wooing top political heavyweights that made Jim to join the APC. It was not only the former governor that the party was wooing at that time, Nwoye acknowledged that they approached a former Minister of Power, Prof. Barth Nnaji, to also join the party. Nwoye said they were throwing their doors open to all opposition parties in order to move the party forward.
In his defection speech, Nwobodo had harsh words for his old party. Nwobodo condemned the PDP and blamed its leadership for allowing five governors to leave for the APC in the build up to the 2015 general elections.
According to him, he is joining the APC to move the people of Enugu State into the mainstream.
Drawing from his experience as governor, he said it was not good being in opposition.
He said members of the APC in Enugu State should not to be discouraged by the electoral losses they suffered in the past.
“You must always lose, what matters is the ability to rise again. I must condemn our former party, the PDP. I know we had problems. I told our former chairman, how come we allowed five governors to leave the party?’’
While allaying the fears of Enugu APC members that he defected to put himself in good stead for patronage and political appointment, Nwobodo said, “I am not looking for a job, I am talking because I want peace. I want our people to be part of the government at the centre.
“I had a problem being an opposition governor. I am not coming into APC because I want anything. I want our people to be reintegrated and have our own share of government’s resources,” Nwobodo said.
However, most members of the South-East APC were not swayed by his reasons for defecting to the party as they strongly believe that the former governor defected to shield himself from the anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari after his name was mentioned in the controversial Dasukigate.
APC South-East Caucus spokesperson, Osita Okechukwu, said it is clear that Nwobodo, who was accused of receiving N500 million out of the purported looted funds from former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, is a fugitive running away from justice.
According to Okechukwu, it is imperative that the APC should screen who wishes to defect from the PDP. “Political parties are like churches and mosques; they have open entry. However, there is need to sieve the defectors. Is it not a paradox that those who are fingered in the Dasukigate scandal, people who rigged and mangled the 2015 general elections are today wearing the badge of virtue and principle?
“We are not talking of position but pollution of our great party. He (Nwobodo) should first cleanse himself of the Dasukigate scandal. Don’t forget that the first cardinal programme of the APC is war against corruption; it is there in our manifesto. My take on his defection into our great party through the window is same with those who classified him as a fugitive of justice, given his involvement in the Dasukigate scandal.
“My investigation showed that up till date, he hasn’t registered in his ward; he was smuggled in by his allies and soul mates in our party, who connived with them in utilising the money from Dasukigate to allocate 14,175 votes to President Buhari, less than three percent of the over 15,000,000 votes garnered by Mr President,” Okechukwu added.
Apart from the likes of Nwobodo and Okoro, about 2,000 others recently left their parties and joined the APC. The official welcoming of the defectors took place at Isi-Uzo Local Government Area.
At the occasion, an ex-Controller of Customs, Mr. Tony Mba, also declared his intention to join the party.
There is no doubt that if the party continues to receive more party members, in no distant time, it will gain ground in Enugu State and might even begin to win elections.
The entrance of Emeka Wogu, former Minister of Labour, and former lawmaker, Mrs. Uche Ekwunife, will no doubt boost the chances of the party in the South-East zone, just as the entrance of Nwobodo and Okoro may reshape the fortunes of APC in Enugu State.
Nwoye had argued that it was the decamping of PDP members, as well as many others during the formation of the APC that made it possible to win the presidential and gubernatorial elections. He reasoned that if they do their home work well and more people join the party, it would be capable of wrenching power from the PDP controlled state.
The optimism expressed by the party chairman is possible with the many politicians moving to APC in many other states. The spirit of joining the bandwagon is still working in Nigeria and who knows if the APC can overturn the table against the PDP in Enugu. A careful observation of the Ugwuanyi-led administration shows that it might be a herculean task for the APC to poach PDP members to the extent that it will become an opposition party. .