Party-switching, Philip Shaibu and absence of values, ideology in Nigeria politics

The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Hon Philip Shaibu may soon be defecting to a yet to be named political party going by a news reports published on Vanguard.

The politician, activist and professional accountant would have joined the fourth political party in his eighteen years of venturing into politics.

According to sources, the rumour did not come as a huge surprise because the Deputy Governor was once quoted to have said he “…merely escorted Governor Godwin Obaseki to PDP.” And the present rift between the Shaibu and Obaseki over commissioner appointments may have also fueled the decision to decamp.

While laws against party switching in the Nigerian political space may not be punctilious because of lack of enforcement, it is worthy to note that these numerous defections are Hoggish, egomaniacal and generally thwarts whatever progressive gains accrued to the polity over time.

Having spent eight years in the Edo State House of Assembly, eighteen months on the house of representatives and the years as deputy governor in the state, Mr Shaibu’s latest rumoured defection would be his fifth political party in a political career of less than two decades. He kickstarted in the All Nigeria Peoples Party ANPP, then moved to the Action Congress AC. After then he has moved to the People’s Democratic Party PDP, All Progressive Congress APC and back to the PDP.

Earlier in the year Ebonyi State Governor David Umahi and his Cross River state counterpart Ben Ayade left the PDP which gave them platforms to win elections and defected to the APC. Aminu Tambuwal who was elected the Speaker of the House of Representatives under the platform of PDP defected to the APC in 2014. He subsequently won the governorship ticket of the APC and has since 2018 defected back to the PDP. Hon Stella Oduah in August 2021 dumped the PDP on whose platform she currently won her Senatorial bid to the APC. Political heavy weights like Otunba Gbenga Daniels ,Atiku Abubakar, Jemili Akingbade, Mai Mala Buni, Godswill Akpabio and Iyiola Omisore are few among the inexhaustible list of Nigerian politicians who had abused political platforms at the expense of the polity.

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The alarming rate of defection of politicians has to a large extent, obstructed democratic sustenance in Nigeria. Political parties should rather be treated as ideological bases and not as only platforms of ascending to political power and we truthfully, these numerous defections have caused more backwardness than progress.

Though an immediate reason was was not given for the rumoured defection, but it has been noted that Mr Shaibu attended a series of meetings outside the country, during same period he was said to have been on vacation before he returned to Nigeria last week. Could it be concluded that he is positioning himself for some opportunistic manoeuvrings that he is not letting the world know?

Why do nigerian politicians defect without batting an eyelid? Poverty of political ideology is one of the inexcusable justification for political party cross carpeting.
Every political party come up with manifestoes during electioneering campaign but it is only in Nigeria that a political office holder would unthinkingly dump a political party he used as vehicle to win a position just because he feels offended. What then is the purpose of being a ‘leader’ when one cannot resolve grievances with colleagues.

It is great to pursue ambitions and agendas. No human on earth is without these. But personal agendas should not override the greater good of the polity.In saner climes, the appropriate step decampees take tois resign from the offices they occupy before joining another political party. And it should not be different in the Nigerian political space. Defecting politicians should drop their mandates before switching parties so governance can still go on without a Governor and his deputy singing discordant tunes; while the latter go ahead to pursue his personal political agendas.

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There is a dearth of value-based politics in this country. Most of the defections happen due to lust for money and power. Efficient, honest and credible leaders would try their best to make things work instead of destabilising the polity with party switching.

These trend needs to be reined in otherwise our current electoral and political situation is bound to deteriorate further. At this point, sustaining Nigeria’s democracy is a necessity. Electoral laws should be amended and strengthened to regulate these alarming rates of political defections.

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