Newspaper Column

My Party, Your Party, Our ‘Paddy Paddy’ Government

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By M. Babajide-Alabi
In a few days from now, Nigerians will usher in a new set of leaders to administer the government for the next four years. May 29, 2015 – Nigeria’s Democracy Day is a day many Nigerians and the world at large are looking forward to. On this day, the baton of leadership will change hands, not only from individuals, but also from political parties.

Ever since the campaign for the Presidential Election was flagged off, the most commonly used word among Nigerians was CHANGE. The election was won and lost on the “durability” of the usage of the word change. While there was no markedly noticed change in the pattern of votes, especially the southern versus northern dichotomy, the expectation was that the time for change was now.

Before the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared the All Progressives Congress (APC) candidate, Muhammad Buhari as the winner of the election, Goodluck Jonathan of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) conceded defeat. This action, many local and international observers, have described as the “icing on the cake” of the 2015 elections. It further signalled that the era of “change” had come to Nigeria, and by extension Africa.

A few days from now the occupants at Aso Villa would change. Dr Jonathan would be heading back to his native Bayelsa State, reminiscing on his five year residence at the Villa and how history would judge him. Buhari, on the other hand, would be handed the keys to the villa and he definitely would spend few days familiarising himself with the numerous offices, rooms, toilets, restrooms etc available for use in there.

It is expected that it would be a totally new experience for the country after May 29. Nigerians are high in expectations, as the change agents take over the reins of power. The APC, as a party will be making an appearance on a totally different platform by taking over from the 16-year old rulership of PDP. The leaders of the party, I am sure, are still over the moon on the new roles they are taking on from this week.

For the APC, this is a new era as a party that has spent its entire existence in opposition, especially at the national level. No surprises that bookies are already taking bets on the fact that it will take the party’s leadership a little while to whittle down the rhetoric they are identified with in the present dispensation. They are “predicting” the party’s implosion as some of the officials would get carried away in their new roles and not differentiate between being in opposition and in government.

To some skeptical Nigerians, the change of batons will be nothing more than the rituals of change of individuals at the helm of affairs while the “fortunes” of Nigerians will still be the same. Their argument is simple. The nature of politics in Nigeria is nothing ideological, rather it is the mass populated idea, where the winner takes all. It therefore encourages cross carpeting and decamping.

It is no surprise to witness the horse trading among the politicians in preparation for the inauguration of the new government. The career politicians are positioning themselves for alliances and grand alliances so as to play key roles in the incoming government. Some of them had gone to consult with diviners, babalawos, prophets and imams to know what steps to follow to be relevant. Not a small number of them have packed their bags and baggage and headed to Abuja, while some have paid pilgrimages to Daura, Port Harcourt and Lagos.

They are moving in droves to the winning party, keeping many wondering who would be left in the other political parties. These politicians have aligned and realigned and made amends within a short period. All these shenanigans are definitely not to bring quality to the polity but to put themselves in positions where they can increase the sizes of their pockets.

Some discerning politicians in the PDP saw the hand writings on the wall before the elections and quickly “spoke with their legs”. They abandoned the ship midway when they realised the tide of events was going against the party. This is not new in Nigeria politics, as politicians know when to tactically retreat without surrendering. They not only abandon ship, but also laid the woes of the country on the doorstep of the “largest party in Africa.” To them the adage “do not kick a man when he is down” do not apply.

These set jumped ship midway, while some decided to “run” after the ship had berthed. They could not risk “jumping” on the high sea, so they waited to “disembark” when the ship was grounded. These are the “chop-i-chop” politicians. They have no ideologies, no values and no scruples for their actions. They place themselves in camps they think they will be able to line their pockets efficiently. They care less what the nation expects from them as leaders or responsibilities that go with their aspirations. All they care for is themselves. They only use their supporters as bargaining chips.

They do not disappoint nobody, as they are known for their stock in trade. When their patronage is not bringing forth or likely to bring forth the expected results, they are fast to position themselves for negotiations and ultimately decamp to the party in government. They are the career politicians, who cannot survive on anything else outside politics.

After the elections these career politicians have shown themselves. They were all over the places. Some of them did not wait for the announcement of the full result before they announced their “resignation” from the losing party via press conferences and press statements, distancing themselcves from the PDP, Jonathan and “declaring allegiance” to the President-elect and his party.

Caught in this cross carpeting melee was David Mark, rumoured to have “jumped ship”. He had to come out fighting like an ex-soldier at his 67th birthday celebration to declare to the world that “If I will be the last man standing I will remain in PDP”. Unfortunately, not many of his party members are bold enough to stay on in the party. They have “ported” to the APC and are now saying damaging words about the party they built. It is sad that these politicians have proved a point to the world that they cannot survive without politics, so they have to go with the flow.

The few that had not “ported” are busy daily washing the party’s dirty linen in public. Unabashedly they have taken themselves to the cleaners, blaming one another for the loss of the party at the polls. They have shown to the public one of the traits that characterised Jonathan’s time in government – insensitivity.

While the losses of PDP are APC’s gains, analysts are frankly asking if APC will not transform to the “new PDP” with the invasion of the party by the decampees. Only time will tell how far these turncoat politicians will go before they wreck the system of governance in the new government. Let us see also how far the President-elect’s no-nonsense image will accommodate these latter day progressives. Like the popular cliche “let us wait and see”.

PUBLISHED IN THE SUNDAY VANGUARD MAY  24, 2015

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