Defections, decamping and cross carpeting have become the order of the day in Nigerian politics. Irrespective of the word they use to describe their reasons, one thing remains the same, political prostitution is a politician’s second nature. Nigerian politicians especially, have perfected the art of hopping from one party to the other that Nigerian politics has become a glorified game of jump rope.
This charade all boils down to the fact that neither the Nigerian politicians nor the political parties have values and ideologies they stand for. As the saying should go: if you stand for nothing, you will jump at everything that comes your way. This is why the average Nigerian politician has been a member of at least two parties and the political parties which they have journeyed through have nothing, except the symbols of rain-shields, sweeping tools and poultry animals, to set them apart from each other.
In fact, due to the country’s tribal, religious and geographic barriers, political parties are driven by personalities and godfathers rather than values and ideologies. For example, in the United States, political parties are defined by their platforms, or manifestoes in Nigerian parlance. So, if a Democrat candidate holds a campaign, you can expect to have foreknowledge of where they stand on the current critical issues. In Nigeria, however, from political campaign to debates and the whole political process is nothing short of a déjà vu. With politicians brandishing the same empty promises as usual, only that the war cries may change: “Power to the People!” or “Next Level!”
It is interesting to note that political parties themselves have their laws to control defections. The most common being that a defector/new member must have been a party member for a minimum period, usually one year, before they can contest for office on that party’s platform. This alone is seemingly an effective blockade to curb political prostitution. Even so, if at all the parties are different, it affords the deserters time to receive an orientation on the values and processes in the new party. However, in the case of high-profile defections when the politician defects, and delivers to his new party a seat of power or thousands of individuals, including officials of the party that he or she is leaving, loopholes can be exploited. Amusingly, a party’s national leadership is also allowed to grant a waiver to a defector to disregard that particular roadblock. Thus, undoing the very law they put in place to filter their association. So it is now: if you can’t beat them, be valuable enough to join them right away.
At this rate, every political party in Nigeria might as well merge into one big association of fork-tongued traitors with no umbrella to hide under. They will, at last, be forced to deal with the chaos that they have created, with no opposition to blame or run to for refuge. Then they can fix their mistakes or give up power altogether.