“Mankind will never see an end of trouble until lovers of wisdom come to hold political power, or the holders of power become lovers of wisdom”~ Plato
The Sage Plato, in one of his classic political thoughts did express his reservations concerning the insatiable greed of mankind, went further to proffer what he deemed appropriate as panacea to modulate excesses in leadership towards ameliorating troubles, hence he advocated for mankind to pursue wisdom, as with the right application of wisdom the earth will be protected from the vagaries of untutored minds, how so true and germane of this thought as espoused above in the affairs of Nigerian politicians of this era is yet to be seen in application.
We are in the era of the gale of defections and counters in our political firmament in the Nigeria of today, not that it is a new trend anyway, but it is fast becoming worrisome and a thing to ponder on, and in an attempt to analyse the gains or loses of this protracted occurrences this essay becomes expedient. Political defections or carpet crossing is as old as the partisan political system in Nigeria, though more in torrential proportion now than ever before, hence any discerning mind would want to inquire of its necessity or obduracy.
Close to every election year politicians shifts base from one political party to another, some do this to obtain better platforms for their political interests, while some defects for pecuniary considerations, some others are only those who tail along with their political, mentors or benefactors, such ones have no choice of their own, hence they are somewhat perpetually tied to the apron-strings of their political masters, once they make any move to any political parties they follow suit, more like “rolling stones that gathers no moss”
Indeed a period of time when politicians are throwing decorum, honor and dignity to the dogs, even so demeaning some outrightly eating from their hitherto waste bins, while some are gleefully going back to the vomits of yesteryears without shame or qualms, and to say this is part of the rot in our society is begging the issues, for it is indeed a total drought of personal dignity and lack of discipline on the part of our political leaders who see nothing wrong in saying a thing is white in the morning and recanting it is black in the evening simply for the sake of their stomach needs.
This crop of politicians saying one thing today and another thing tomorrow are among men the most abject, because they lack credibility and honor, honor that most times could be seen among thieves is now a scarce commodity within the fold of most a Nigeria politicians, and it is not only absurd but disheartening, such that one would be wont to ask what a man who cannot be trusted with his own words is doing angling to hold in trust the common patrimony of others?
Another like it is the almost clear case of lack of ideological difference between the political parties, more so in the areas of entrenched values, policies or clear cut developmental manifestos that is judicially applied to and held sacrosanct by members of the said political parties, such that whenever any of their members are elected into any political office, the leadership of the said political party would hold the one accountable to abide by the tenets of the policies of the political party and not deviate from her cherished values as enshrined, rather what we witness are sapped organizational skills on the part of party leaders et al; name it whatever, but the freeways of passage from one political party to another in the Nigeria political space is one that is already making the entire political system of Nigeria laughable, that one is in political party A today and tomorrow he/she is comfortable in defection to political party F and not in anyway disturbed of the views he/she was having about the party yesterday, mehn I don’t get it at all how these men pull such stunts and sleep soundly at night without worries, I think something is definitely wrong with the psyche of an average Nigerian politician.
In developed and organized climes, even within the scope of Africa, political parties are built on the strength of conviction of her members, such that the ideology backing the political parties are usually the point of attraction and selling point of the said political parties, such that party A is different from party B not just by name alone but what they each stands for or represent, in other words the separation is usually empirical and conspicuous, the distinguishing features and characteristics of each political party distinct and identifiable, hence citizens of those countries join political parties on the strength of choice of what they stand for ahead of even forming a government.
Unfortunately, in our dear country Nigeria, the story is different, as the one in political party A in the morning could easily defect to political party Z at noon, only to change to party C in the evening, warming up yet to move at night should the green light for movement beckons. Now one begins to wonder what the heck is going on?
Most worrisome in all these are those that were elected under a particular political party, either as governor or legislators whimsically crossing over to another political party yet clutching on to the mandate given to them while yet in another political party; now one begins to wonder what manner of political system we operate, and if there is yet any modicum of honor left with the Nigerian politicians, or we are now suddenly in a banana republic where every and anything is possible.
Sincerely speaking, I don’t believe this country can ever move forward with such a political system as this that is totally bereft of checks and balances, a system which condones and permits recklessness with abandoned alacrity, a system that encourages and in fact stipulates gross violations and impunity.
On closer observations I figured out that part of the challenge is that most of our political parties are formed with a preconceived mindset and narrowed interests, either for personal or groups pecuniary interest and conveniences, not for the overall common good of the country or her citizens. Hence you often see members of the political parties riding roughshod on the content of the documents that formed their guide, betraying the collective expectations of their political parties when it matters most at little or no provocation.
Unlike what is obtainable in some developed climes, even in South Africa and some other African neighbors, their political party formations are so ideologically synchronized with the shared aspirations and visions of the citizenry in tandem with the strong will and desires of their great minds, such that membership of such political parties are cult-like, members oftentimes defend their political parties like the religious defends their various religions, even at the risk of their personal liberties and in some cases their lives, but here being members of a political party has no serious attachment to ones strong alliance or cleavages, it is oftentimes of infinitesimal value to those who are members, and in most cases the tenets of the parties neither internalized or imbibed by members, most member of various political parties in Nigeria are not even in the knowledge of the content of their political parties constitutions, let alone abiding by its principles or shared values
Going forward, if we must get it right in this country political-parties-wise, I think the unnecessary balkanization, polarization and outright proliferation of political parties in Nigeria is not a plus for us but a great challenge that needed be curtailed. We needed have political parties with clear and distinctive ideological difference between them, such that members of the said political parties are believers in their core ideology and manifestos, unlike what we have now that is anything but distinctive, rather so ideologically sapped of potency and clear leads.
In conclusion, I think we should go back to the era of two party system, wherein the two political parties are made to formulate their policies, ideologies, guidelines and roadmap in a clear and unambiguous manner as to make it easier for members to checkmate when they are derailing from their set modalities and hold them to it, the only addition is that there should be room for independent candidacy too, that way excesses would be checked, another like it is that stringent laws should be made to check unnecessary carpet crossing, particularly among elected officials, such that anyone elected under any particular political party that intends defections should first resign his elected position and defect without the mandate given to them by the voters, as I view such as a betrayal and travesty of political victory, as political parties sponsor candidates and most often than not the voters rout for political parties more than the individuals sponsored by the parties.
Ugochimereze Chinedu Asuzu, is a human rights advocate, social cum political analyst.