The recent defection of Senators Ndoma Egba and Ita Enang from the PDP to the ruling APC jolted many political observers. The two senators benefited from the PDP for a cumulative 28 years being in the National Assembly. In this piece, EMMA ALOZIE looks at the penchant for fair-weather brand of politics even by those regarded as decent politicians
It is no longer news that the immediate past leader of the Senate, Senator Ndoma Egba, SAN, has left the former ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP for the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC after 12 long years of being in the senate on the platform of the PDP.
In the same vein, Senator Ita Enang, the immediate past Senate Committee Chairman on Rules and Business has also left the PDP after 16 years as a legislator with the PDP. He seems to be the luckiest of all as he has been appointed as the President’s Special Adviser on National Assembly matters. Ita Enang was a two term House of Representatives member and also a two term senator, all under the PDP platform.
Pundits and analysts alike are wondering while these two prominent members of the PDP from a zone that is still predominantly PDP and who benefited in no small measure from the PDP would jump ship soon after the PDP lost power at the centre.
Since 2014 when the party denied Senator Ndoma Egba the ticket to return to the Senate, things fell apart between him and the party. Though when asked about the speculations making the rounds then that he was defecting from the PDP, he dismissed such report pledging to remain loyal to the party. “There were reports last week that I was approached by an opposition. Well, the fact of the matter is that I remain in PDP and as a loyal party member; I will work to ensure the victory of my party at all levels in the 2015 polls,” he reiterated this stand in December last year.
But, just after the party lost power at the centre, things started changing. While other notable PDP lawmakers pledged their unflinching loyalty, the former senate leader remained coy. For instance, the former senate president, Senator David Mark dismissed all rumours of quitting the PDP.
“If I will be the last man standing, I will remain in PDP, defectors are fair weather friends. I have always assured you that I would do only those things that are honest in the eyes of my brothers and sisters. Whatever I have achieved today, it’s because you always remember me in your prayers. I have heard by way of rumor that I am decamping to APC, if I would be the last man standing, I would remain in PDP.
“The rumor is an unnecessary fabrication. I heard a newspaper said I am planning to decamp to APC, media men must verify cases before they publish such. I will remain in PDP and I we will try to restructure it. In politics, there must always be a winner and loser; this is not anything new to us,’’ Senator Mark said.
Similarly, the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu reiterated his undivided loyalty to the PDP. “I have also heard a lot of permutations on the possible mass defection of Ndigbo to the APC in the coming dispensation. While I will not hold brief for all the PDP stalwarts of South-east origin, especially because our constitution provides for freedom of association, I can assure you that on PDP we stand.
“At least, count Senator Ike Ekweremadu out of any defection to the opposition. PDP leaders in the South-east are committed to further repositioning and strengthening of the party. We may not have the presidency, but we are strong in the states and remain the party to beat. On PDP we stand,” he maintained.
Ndoma Egba, who has been in the Senate in the last 12 years was one of the stabilizers of the party in the Senate and was perhaps expected to lead the resurgence of the party from its present comatose state. The only Senior Advocate of Nigeria in the Senate then, Ndoma Egba is known for the calm and focused manner he directed the affairs of the senate during his time as the senate leader. Therefore, it came to many as a huge surprise when he recently defected to the APC, a party that defeated his former party.
Explaining why he left the PDP, the former senate leader said PDP neglected him for so long. He went further to describe the party as inhospitable. “You recall the events in the Peoples Democratic Party in Cross River State in the last three years. More energy was spent pursuing Victor Ndoma-Egba than were spent on winning elections; they even celebrated their loss because they imagined that I was going to get an appointment. The sole objective of the party was denying Victor Ndoma-Egba political space and I became their only issue. For three years, I have not been invited to any meeting of the PDP in Cross River State and this is understandable. The party shut its doors against me a long time ago. I still have political life and I have no plans to retire from politics. And to play politics, I need a platform and PDP has become hostile and inhospitable, so I move on,” he said.
But the PDP chairman in Cross River, the home state of Senator Ndoma Egba countered saying he (Senator Egba) defected because the party lost election at the centre and not because of any inhospitable disposition of the party t6o wards him. According to the state chairman of the PDP, the party in the state would miss the ex-senator based on his quality and sterling contribution.
“Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba’s exit from the party is painful because we did not believe that he would leave. But I must say that since he lost the November primary last year, his spirit was out of the party.
“The former Senate Leader is my personal friend. I have nothing against him and he lost to a formidable contender who is a grass-root person. Remember that the election was decided by the people of the central senatorial district which was out of the purview of the state executive. Ndoma-Egba’s spirit was out of the party. He has only decided to leave because our party failed the election at the national level. If the PDP had remained in power, he probably would have been given an ambassadorial position,” he noted.
There are those who are of the view that with the speed prominent politicians especially from the South South zone are decamping from the PDP to the APC, it would only be a matter of time before the PDP, which boasts of the South South as its stronghold would cave in and perhaps become an opposition party in the zone. The question is, how long shall these politicians continue to play fair-weather politics?