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I have Chief Audu Ogbeh in memory since the earliest days of my political consciousness when he was the National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Their 4th National Chairman.
I still have a hard time adjusting to the reality of the same Chief Audu Ogbeh being a Minister and a mouth piece of All Progressive Congress (APC), the party that dismantled a party he once chaired.
But Chief Audu Ogbeh is not the first, nor is he the only politician to criss-cross political parties. Americans call it “party switching”, but here we know it as “Decamping”. It seems to be common, far more common in our clime. I remember Rotimi Amaechi as a PDP Governor of Rivers State. Senator Bukola Saraki did his two-term tenure as Governor under the umbrella of PDP, Speaker of the House of Representatives did his first two terms in the House as a PDP member, Rochas Okorocha served in Obasanjo’s administration under PDP. Even President Buhari had his stint with different parties; ANPP, CPC before winning the mantle on the platform of APC. I can go on and on. Of course there are other political parties that are no longer “viable” today some politicians had flown their flags too.
Political parties are, or should be built on ideologies, beliefs and values which form the foundation of everything the party projects. Members hold these values in their core, as it defines who they are, what they stand for and what they are willing to die for. These ideologies (ideally) are what distinguish one party from another, as electorates identify with parties that align with their own beliefs, values and views. A change in party translates to change in ideologies (ideally). And ideologies are meant to be deep-rooted, long standing and strongly held, thus not so flexible.
But the way Nigerian politicians hop around political parties, you would almost question if they understand the concept of politics in a democracy. They have distilled political parties to become structures on which to via for election only, nothing else. Any political party that offers them a platform to contest is good enough.
For Pete’s sake, it’s politics not prostitution.
This makes it difficult for young ones with interest in politics to learn the ideals of politics. It makes it difficult to know which party to vote for, support or join.
If a party with the sole objective of winning elections, after the election is won, then what? This is the faulty hinge of the All Progressive Congress. Their founding aim was to wrestle power from the Peoples Democratic Party. They tried and they succeeded. Then they became at loss as to what to do with themselves as a people, as a team, as leaders and as a Party.
This is part of the root cause of our disarray as a nation, as a democratic nation. Maybe that is why our choices are always between the devil and the deep-blue sea. Time and time again, we have to pick between the lesser of many devils. What do our political parties stand for? What is each party known for? On what do we build the confidence to choose a particular party again, and again and again.
True, every individual has his or her character, aspirations and impact, but coming under a political party means you align with a particular set of values, and pledge to realize those values if elected to office. That is how the electorates choose.
Sadly, between 2015 and now, I have learned that political parties can hardly be separated from the candidates they front. They influence each other mutually. I could be wrong. Members are what the party is and the party is what the members are. They both make each other and both dent each other. It should not be so. Parties should hold unflinching values that cannot be rotated or adjusted by those under its membership.
As 2019 approaches with the speed of light, we would not be surprised to see new parties spring up, new alliances forged while past ones are betrayed, broken and abandoned. The electorates must keep in mind that political parties stir the wheel of the country long after the elections are concluded.