Mass Defection in NASS & National Polity: Matters Arising! -Ishola Adebayo

August 1, 2018

It was a tumultuous moment for members of the People’s Democratic Party, (PDP) on Tuesday, 24th July, 2018 as a gale of defection swept through the National Assembly with 14 leading senators from All Progressive Congress (APC) defecting to PDP, some of whom happened to be the main opposition to the ruling party.

The APC have also been reduced significantly in the House of Representatives, where 32 of its members switched to the side of the PDP. In similar vein, the ruling party (APC) also lost four of its members to the African Democratic Congress (ADC), while one other resigned without stating which party he will join.

President Muhammadu Buhari and the APC attempted to downplay the gale of defections, wishing the defected legislators well in their future endeavours.Efforts to impede the defections had collapsed on Monday night as the angry members of the APC massed in the reformed All Progressives Congress (rAPC) had refused all entreaties to persuade them to stay back.

The first sign of hostility was the invitation to Senate President Bukola Saraki by the police, asking him to report at one of its stations in Guzape, Abuja for interrogation of the April 2018 Offa bank robberies. Saraki had responded that the invitation was a political game to prevent the impending defections from the APC. Tuesday morning, he was proved right as the police blocked his convoy from leaving his Maitama, Abuja residence around the same time security operatives laid siege to Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu’s house in Apo, Abuja.

The security efforts were futile as Saraki made it to the Senate to preside over the day’s proceedings that witnessed the reconfiguration of the power blocs in the upper legislative chamber.

The APC senators, who defected as contained in a joint letter written to that effect and read at plenary by the Senate president, were Dino Melaye (Kogi West), Barnabas Gemade (Benue North East), Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South), Mohammed Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara North), Rafiu Ibrahim (Kwara South) and Suleiman Hunkuyi (Kaduna North).

Others were Hamman Isa Misau (Bauchi Central), Monsurat Sunmonu (Oyo Central), Usman Bayero Nafada (Gombe North), Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso (Kano Central), Suleiman Nazif (Bauchi North), Lanre Tejuoso (Ogun Central) and Abdulaziz Nyako (Adamawa Central).

While these seemed to be a difficult moment for the ruling party, The National Chairman of the ruling APC, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole, was less conciliatory as he dismissed the defectors as big masquerades without electoral values.

In further engagement with him, when asked what the implication of the defection could be on the ruling party which has become the minority in the National Assembly, Oshiomhole replied, “If there are implications it is for the Nigerian nation not for APC.”

When asked if the Senate adjourning till September does not have implication of the party, the APC National chairman said, “No, No, No”. The business of the Senate or the National Assembly is not to legislate for the good governance of APC. It is to legislate for the good governance of Nigeria.

“If people have chosen that it is more politically convenient to suspend the process of legislation ahead of time because it is not convenient for their political interests and choose to insubordinate the Nigerian national interest for that purpose, it is their choice”. He added.

Sequel to the mass defection, of National Assembly members from the ruling All Progressives Congress, APC, to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, has described the development as beneficial to the nation’s polity. Governor Emmanuel made the remarks while fielding questions from Government House Correspondents, shortly on arrival from National engagements, at the Hilltop Mansion, Government House, Uyo.

More so, a former senator of Ogun State, Sen. Gbenga Kaka who represented Ogun East at the senate from 2011-2015 commented on the recent defection saying it would not augur well for the “stability” of the nation’s politics. He also expressed worry that the action of the lawmakers could erode the power of political parties to achieve supremacy over members or enforce discipline on them. He, however, admitted that what the defectors had done was covered by the law of the land, especially if there is an alleged division within one’s political party.

However, it is saddening that our political parties in Nigeria has little or no ideology that can revamp the nation’s image. The occurrences going on at the house of assembly in Abuja is an arranged and already mastered script that is just being acted.

Our lawmakers defection stemmed out of safety and defense of their personal interest because it seemed threatened and not the interest of the populace. If this game continues, its result on the nation’s polity would be catastrophic. This is because being disunited would impair the balance of the house. Hence, making scalable decisions that would leapfrog the nation’s looming economy and its image in the outer world would be almost impossible. It is high time Nigerians arise and wake up to realities of voting for a personalities rather than being caught up in the web of one particular political party.