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The gale of defections started blowing and continues raging ahead of the 2019 general elections. On the face value such political moves or calculations are not an aberration nor unusual. But the reactions from certain political gladiators or actors questions the integrity or the antecedents of some of Nigerian politicians including those perceived as colossus and epitome of good conscience. What is happening recently as regards to defections and reactions indict the political class as lacking in morality. To such politicians, the end justifies the means, might is right and politics of do or die are permissible in Nigerian politics.

The gale of defections started blowing and continues raging ahead of the 2019 general elections. On the face value such political moves or calculations are not an aberration nor unusual. But the reactions from certain political gladiators or actors questions the integrity or the antecedents of some of Nigerian politicians including those perceived as colossus and epitome of good conscience. What is happening recently as regards to defections and reactions indict the political class as lacking in morality. To such politicians, the end justifies the means, might is right and politics of do or die are permissible in Nigerian politics.


What is the position of the 1999 constitution as amended on defection? Within and in tandem with Fundamental Human Rights as it borders on Freedom of Association? Section  68(g) of the 1999 constitution which stipulates that any defection that is predicated on factionalization of a law-maker's original party or its merger with another political party is null and ultra vires. By this provision, anybody or politician is entitled to move from one political party of his choice on certain conditions as enshrined in the above section. The consequence of a breach is that anyone found culpable under this section shall have his/her seat declared vacant.
The question that arises is, since the return of democracy on the 29th May, 1999 has any politician in Nigeria been sanctioned and compelled to vacate his seat in any of the state Houses of Assembly or the National Assembly? The answer is Yes. In 2012, a member of the House of Representatives, Mr. Ifeadayo Abegunde representing South Federal Constituency of Ondo State lost his seat after a court ruled that his defection from the Labour Party to the Action Congress of Nigeria was a breach of the Constitution because there was no division in LP, at the time. The judgment was later upheld by the court of Appeal.
Division or political party wangling is interpreted or misinterpreted by different politicians or political parties. In 2014, issue of defection reared its ugly. The search for political relevance in the build-up to 2015 general elections sparked off intense stabbing and infighting. On the 28th October 2014, the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal defected from his party, PDP to the main opposition party APC and announced adjournment of House of Representatives sittings till 3 December, 2014. The Speaker shut down the House, suspended legislation evidently to exploit the tool of adjournment in violation of the 2014 legislative calendar to avert repercussion that would follow his defection. The understanding of Tambuwal was that frayed nerves would have been calmed when the House re-opened for legislation December 3.
Tambuwal's defection did not come to many as a surprise, unexpected, however, the actions of Senators who were ardent supporters of President of Jonathan took millions of Nigerians by surprise. If Tambuwal was on a revenge mission against President Jonathan for being opposed to his emergence as the speaker, but what could be the grouse of PDP Senators loyal to Jonathan to have defected to the APC? The PDP Senators within the same period shut down legislation in protest against alleged losses at the party's ward congresses on 1st November, 2014. The aggrieved senators blamed the President for handing over PDP structures in their various states to the governors, leaving the legislators in the cold, hamstrung. Consequently, they opted to employ the boycott of legislative activities as a way to force the President to guarantee their return tickets to the Senate in 2015.
When the senate resumed on the 28th October, 2014, Senators wore combat visages. The session was presided by the Deputy Senate President Ike Ekweremadu while the Senate President, David Mark was  attending a National Council of State meeting at the Presidential Villa. Few minutes after, the senate leader Victor Ndoma-Egba moved a motion that all items on the Order Paper be stood down and sitting adjourned till the following day to enable them attend a caucus meeting of PDP Senators was seen as an open confrontation with the President. The reason for the suspension of the days sitting was not immediately known until one of the Senators disclosed information on why the action was taken and how the trend would continue for so long.
The subsequent defection of PDP Senators including the Senate leader, Victor Ndoma-Egba to APC with the Speaker, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal was the climax of intrigues to get at Jonathan. Their defections were not anchored on good conscience or in the national interests.
However, the actions of PDP Senators and members of the House of Representatives did not go unnoticed. As a result, angry youths stormed the National Assembly under the aegis of Nigerian Youth Movement for Peace Empowerment and Transformation threatening to deal with the Senators' action and the simultaneous close of the two chambers.
The group spokesperson, Rex Anigboro described the senate's decision to shut down the chamber as a show of impunity, selfishness and an aberration that should not be allowed to go unchallenged, adding “they shut the senate and declared solidarity for Tambuwal with the intention to put the President under pressure. That is why we are saying no to impunity in every stratum of government. This is an aberration. The people of Nigeria are not in their calculations. They are only concerned about the survival of their selfish interests”.
Unfortunately in the drama, it was celebration galore for the main opposition party APC. Reason is that it was the major beneficiary in the absurdity.
Not comfortable with the actions  of the PDP senators and members of the House of Representatives and the Speaker in particular for arrow-heading to undermine Jonathan to facilitate the return of power to the North, the Discourse of Oct, 31-2 November, 2014 with the caption: Defection: Is Speaker Tambuwal House Leadership still tenable? demanded the resignation of Tambuwal since he was no longer a member of the ruling PDP. This piece of advice was resisted with scorn. To Ahmed Tinubu and influential APC gladiators from the North it was healthy, constitutional and democracy in action.
Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal annihilation of his party did not start with his defection. It started when a section of the country bandied that they were in possession of a document signed by President Goodluck Jonathan that he would rule for one term of four years and then power would shift back to the North. When Nigerians demanded to have a glimpse of the document, nobody could provide or make it available. This mindset of a section of the North instigated crisis. Some PDP governors came up with a splinter group, demanded the removal of the National Chairman Alhaji Bamanga Tukur. Removed and replaced with Alhaji Adamu Muazu, the crisis did not abate.
In addition and in the same vein the November 3-6, 2014 Discourse column titled: The Nation Newspaper and the case of Aminu Tambuwal dissected and berated the journalism practice of The Nation's Newspaper whose columnists such as Segun Gbadegesin, Mobulaji Sanusi, Olutunji Dare, Tunji Adeboyega and others grovel and seem recruited to do a hatchet job, into the matrix to see anything Jonathan as rudderless and against the common good of Nigerians. That when the Nation demanded reactions from Nigerians over the withdrawal of Tambuwal's security detail by the Inspector General of Police. It did so sectional. Those sought for their reactions were Dakuku Peterside, Chairman House Committee on Petroleum  (Downstream), Samson Osagie, Minority Whip, Solomon Adeola, Chairman House Committee on Anti-Corruption, Suleiman Kawa Sumaila (APC Kano); Former Lagos Commissioner of Police Tsav; George Oguntade, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Senator  Babafemi Ojudu, the Vice Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Services and Establishments.
That the defection of Tambuwal took place shortly before the APC Convention at the Old Parade Ground Abuja was not coincidental but well designed to smoothen the ground after APC constitution to accommodate Tambuwal was amended. Tambuwal got the waiver. If you had watched the convention and the visage of Tambuwal on the television, you were bound to discover that Tambuwal was wearing smiles of a mission accomplished.
About four years down the line, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, the Speaker, fourth citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, attended for  the first time APC convention where the constitution was altered, Tambuwal granted a waiver, admitted a bag fish and given a ticket to contest the gubernational election of Sokoto State in 2015, and defeated other candidates was no mean feat. At what point, therefore did APC, President Buhari, Adams Oshiomhole, Alhaji Aliyu Wammako and others see Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal a traitor, a political harlot and a villain?
The defections from PDP to APC that generated sad comments and condemnation but celebrated and adjudged as a master stroke by General Muhammadu Buhari, why now is the defections viewed as a coup that must be challenged or reversed by APC?
If PDP, the majority party in the House of Representatives did not sanction Aminu Tambuwal, did not challenge its Senators who decamped along side with Tambuwal in 2014 and similarly if APGA tolerated governor Okorocha defection to APC in 2013, what then is the moral justification for APC scheming to reconvene the National Assembly so that the Senate President Olusola Saraki can be impeached?
The APC government should rather think of defusing rather than hitting up the polity with incendiary statements. APC can't benefit from defections in 2014 and now turn round to jettison because this time it is a victim, not a beneficiary.
As a matter of fact and put succinctly, Nigerians are wiser and alert as to the danger the nation's democracy is passing under President Muhammadu Buhari. Those who assert that the President is under a spell are indeed not far from the truth.
While addressing a coalition of 39 political parties on Thursday 2nd August 2018 at the unveiling of the Secretariat of the Coalition of United Political Parties, (CUPP), a Chieftain of PDP, Alhaji Buba Galadima alerted the nation that the task of dethroning President Muhammdu Buhari in 2019 would not be easy. This was re-echoed by the National Chairman of PDP Prince Uche Secondus.
The fear is that the President is deploying a lot of arsenals to deal and frustrate the opposition parties. He is fighting the main opposition with EFCC and other apparatuses of cohesion.
The National Assembly should continue in its perseverance, resistance and persistence in defending the nation's democracy threatened by the Executive lawlessness and impunity. The President must sign an undertaking the same way former President Goodluck Jonathan signed to accept defeat honourably. Kudos to Tambuwals, the Sarakis the Ortoms, Abdulfatahs and others in the wing to rescue the people of Nigeria in 2019 from political subjugation.
Sydney .O. Madukwem, Guest Writer, Dile Emeohe Mbaoma Emii, Owerri North L/G, 07069123994.

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