Ali Modu Sheriff
Defection is gradually becoming a norm in the Nigerian politics, especially since the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) took over power in 2015.
It appears many politicians particularly those from the opposition camps are deliberately defecting to the ruling APC, having realized the disposition of the government to rival parties; as means of escaping the dreadful arms of the anti-corruption crusade; and or perhaps the fact that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) may not survive its current challenges.
Most importantly, many PDP stalwarts who seem not keen on leaving the party, must have decided otherwise in the recent past, fearing that the Ali Modu Sheriff’s faction will triumph in the party’s leadership crisis.
A member of the PDP Board of Trustees (BoT), Chief Ebenezer Babatope bared his frustrations recently when he said that if the powers that be want to kill the party, “we will help to them kill it.”
This is as many of the stalwarts of the party have vowed never to remain under Sheriff’s leadership of the PDP, whose chairmanship was validated by the Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt last week.
In the recent past, series of defection from the PDP to the APC have rocked the news leaving many Nigerians dumbfounded on the implications of the development to the nation’s democratic institution. Indeed, many political observers argued that the development was capable of muzzling the opposition and destroying democratic culture in the country.
Nonetheless there have been some occasions where the reverse was the case, with the defections going contrary to the run of play. This time around, APC members are decamping to PDP.
In Rivers state, a leader of the APC, chief Emeh Glory Emeh dumped the party to join the PDP but claimed that he did not defect but simply returned to his political family.
Emeh, who served the state in various capacities including senior special assistant on Media and Strategy; commissioner of Commerce and Industry; and commissioner of Transport and Aviation during the former Governor Peter Odili’s administration.
It was gathered that Emeh has been under pressure from his associates and leadership of PDP in the state, in the past few months to return to the party.
Though it was not clear why he left the APC, many believe that his exit from the opposition party would create a vacuum in the APC because of his enormous political experience particularly in the area of propaganda.
When contacted, Umeh said he only linked up with his political family, saying: “I really don’t consider my return to PDP as a defection or decamping, it is just a return to my political home base.”
Similarly, about 1,500 members of the APC in Radda town, Charanchi Local Government area of Katsina state, have defected to the PDP. A former APC youth mobilisation officer in the state, Alhaji Mustapha Radda, led the defectors.
Receiving them, the state chairman of PDP, Alhaji Salisu Majigiri, said the party had constituted reception committee to receive defectors to the party.
“The committee is mandated to receive all the people who defected to our party from other parties. We shall treat all those who defected to our party equally without any form of discrimination.
“Just this week, we received Alhaji Umar Tata from the All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA) to our party together with his supporters.
“We are ready to provide level playing ground to old and new members during future elections and there will be no imposition of candidates this time around,” he assured.
Tata was the governorship candidate of APGA in the 2015 elections.
In his remarks, Radda explained that they resolved to dump the APC for the PDP in order to rescue his people from alleged maltreatment.
“We have done a lot for the APC, but today my people especially the youths that I mobilised have nothing to show for it. We did not benefit from the APC poverty alleviation programme meant to rescue women and youths from poverty; we have presented several requests to those that matter but we were rejected,” he said.
Also, Tata said that they were prepared for the restructuring of the PDP for effective service delivery.
According to him, the PDP leadership promised to assist the youths with capital to establish their business.