With just a month or two left for us to go to the polls to elect those who would determine our future in the next four years, Nigerians have witnessed a spate of movements from the one political party to the other. The biggest of the movements was the decamping of the Rt. Hon Aminu Tambuwal, speaker of the Federal House of Representatives from the PDP to the APC. Having jumped ship, his resignation as speaker of the House of Representatives should have been a corollary to the splash that his jumping ship made. The speaker became speaker by first being a member of the party he jumped from. But his followers are adamant, and insist that the constitution of the Federal republic of Nigeria guarantees his freedom of movement as a human being. They insist as well that since the matter is already in court, it would be unreasonable for the speaker to preempt the courts and resign as speaker.
My opinion concerning this specious apology is well known, and reasonably articulated sometime ago in a Daily Independent newspaper publication titled WHY SHOULD TAMBUWAL RESIGN AS SPEAKER? I have no intention of dwelling on the unfortunate blow that Mr. Speaker’s political demeanour has dealt our political culture and development. The Speaker’s supporters forget that what the constitution guarantees in terms of freedom of association is a fundamental human right that we all as citizens should enjoy. But when it comes to belonging to a political party, the constitution was not as benevolent as that, insisting that if anyone is desirous of contesting for public office, that ambition can only be realized by becoming a bona fide member of a political party, be subject to its constitution, and be guided by its ideology. It is that belief and conviction in the ideology of the party that drives our innate weapons of hope, trust, determination and ambition, and which gives us the belief that if we hold on to these beliefs, our country and her citizens will prosper.
Let’s look at a good example of a country that exemplifies these ramifications. The United States has only two political parties – the Republicans and Democrats. What makes them Democrats or Republicans different in mission, vision and scope is not just the animal emblems –the one is a horse while the other a donkey – that represent them, no. These parties have men and women of long standing belief in their convictions that banding together, and bounding themselves with the chords of faith, hope, courage and love for country, they can lead their country in a direction leading to the fountain of progress and prosperity. That conviction drives the Republicans and drives the Democrats as well. Therefore, where the Democrats believe that it is the business of government of government to take care of the interests of everyone, the Republicans believe that government is one huge cauldron of beans and the fire provided by government should fire the pot, allowing every bean to reach the top as the water boils. While Republicans believe that free enterprise promotes economic growth, Democrats insist that the business of government is too complex and complicated for the ordinary man on the street to grapple with. For Republicans, it would be better if government cuts down waste and allow the people to control government spending. Democrats disagree – they would like a situation where government bureaucrats determine the tax regimen to meet its obligations to her people. These ‘disagreements’ also take place in the education, immigration, national security, and health care. If there are areas where the Republicans who are currently the majority believe that the Democrats would get the upper hand and an advantage, they would become filibursters and try to delay that advantage. These ‘disagreements’ in the way the country should be run was what led to the nearly shut down of the American economy sometime this year. The point has to be made that they have come together, mostly in the interest of national security, and adopted a bipartisan approach to solve their country’s problems. They don’t jump ship or decamp.
But in our country, our politicians do not believe in or hold on very strong to anything, do not support any worthy cause if the cause will not trigger an alert that swells their bank accounts. The parties they belong to are mere camps and platforms that support their own ambitions to help themselves to our common purse. Take a look at the one – about 70% of its members who have moved from the PDP have not moved because something threatens what they believe in, but have moved because something threatens their fufu and afang soup. Their belief is that the party is an enterprise for personal aggrandizement and a platform to realize their political ambitions. The minute they have a disagreement within the party, they decamp as easily as they do because decamping has a direct relationship with the opinion that General Obasanjo recently expressed of some politicians in our country.
What we have on ground now is what George Orwell predicted in his book, Animal Farm – the time when Benjamin the Donkey looked at the faces of the animals that overthrew Mr Jones, and instead of animal faces, there were human faces in the faces of the animals who had overthrown their human oppressors. Today, the PDP is APC and the APC is PDP. We say this boldly because we know that simply replacing one politician with another politician via elections will not guarantee a system of government based on the rule of law and accountability. One seedy and ideology-less a politician just wants to replace another greedy and ideology-less politician. That is why at this point we hold it as a duty to our people to encourage them not to go out and vote if voting will help the ambitions of politicians who are merely interested in using us to realize their ambition. We question the long held belief that voting is part of our civic duty and insist that not going out to vote, and vote in these frivolous politicians who are not committed to our progress, peace and development is a civic duty as well.