Daily Trust

Gale of defections: Game of chairs

The past fortnight must have witnessed some of the most dramatic developments in the country’s political space in recent times, with the flurry of movements – (decamping, defection) and a cacophony of other terms that simply refer to nothing special beyond migration of politicians from one camp or party to another. For now, the trend features a preponderance of an exodus of the so disposed ones from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), judging from the tracks of the key dramatis personae. For instance, the APC has lost a significant number of its key officials at the National Assembly including the President of the Senate Bukola Saraki; the executive wing featuring governors of Kwara, Sokoto, Benue states   namely Abdulfatah Ahmed and Aminu Tambuwal and Samuel Ortom respectively. 


An interesting twist in the gale of defections is the blow at the party’s jugular, with the resignation from office and defection from the party of Bolaji Abdulllahi the erstwhile National Publicity Secretary of the APC. Until recently he was in charge of the party’s image laundering machinery and was in his element in discrediting the PDP. Older journalists from the Thisday newspaper stable, will not fail to see a ‘reunion’ between Bolaji and his former stablemate Kola Ologbondiya the National Publicity Secretary of the PDP. 


Meanwhile Nigerians have not failed to recall that a similar movement was recorded in 2014 when the then ruling party PDP lost vital assets in membership to the newly emergent APC, under circumstances similar to the present scenario which defectors unhappy with the state of affairs in their parties. An indication of the popular perception of these and other instances of defection, is the outcry against the seeming lack of any ideological considerations driving them; a situation that ordinarily betrays such movements from one party to another to be bereft of altruistic and egalitarian principles. 


However, that contention would be more tenable if taken with a pinch of salt. The truth of the matter is that while indicting such tendencies as being bereft of altruistic considerations may be tenable, denying them of any ideological colouration may not be so. As is apparent the reference to ideology by many observers is usually confined to the popular, polar concepts of communism, socialism, capitalism, egalitarianism just to name a few. Yet throughout the history of Nigerian politics and politicians, the only instances when ideology had been considered have been as purely academic exercises. 

But going by the definition of an ideology, the brand of Nigerian politics is driven by the dictates of ‘crass-opportunism’. This is the mindless scramble to seize and control for self-aggrandizement, whatever thing of value that is within reach. And to do so, without minding the implications of such disposition to the interest of others. This is the foundation of the winner-takes-all syndrome that is the bane of Nigerian politics. Hence in the context of this dispensation, her politics has always projected similarities to the popular but simplistic game of musical chairs.

In its basic form the game of musical chairs features a designated number of participants who dance to a musical beat around chairs arranged in a circle, and whose number is always less than that of the participants. At the prompting of the umpire the participants would be required to scramble and secure a seat each. Since the number of seats would be less than that of the participants, some of the unfortunate ones would be caught stranded without seats, and thereby lose out. 

Hence success in a game of musical chairs depends on the playout of crass opportunism and is driven by several factors – alertness, good timing, sheer brawn – and to sum it all, rugged individualism. In a large sense the game of musical chairs actually mimics life especially in a Hobbesian state where without enforceable rules of engagement between individuals, survival is for the fittest and most opportunistic.

While so much may have been said about the sins of past administrations and the claim by the present administration to be driven by the mantra of change, it was a legitimate expectation that it would start its mission by surrendering itself to walking its talk. Three years down the road that has not taken place. Rather what many Nigerians swear to have seen is a cocktail of excuses leading to the corruption of the acronym APC to ‘All Promises Cancelled”.

Proceeding from the foregoing, the present concern borders on the fallouts from the gale of defections – sorry, game of musical chairs – to wit – what to expect from the winners as well as the losers in the playout. For the APC for whom the exodus of erstwhile key assets constitutes a hemorrhage of sorts, the reaction has been one of hardly concealed panic, aimed at reassuring the remnants and discouraging further escapes. The Presidency and the APC leadership, in particular the National Chairman Adams Oshiomhole have been adept at that, even as the dividends of their enterprise has yielded scant returns as indications, are that the exit of more members from the party is yet to be stemmed.

However, of the most worrisome import is the saber-rattling, belligerent disposition of some members of the Buhari Support Group (BSG) in the National Assembly. At a time that calls for fence-mending in the polity, and boosting the fortunes of the administration ahead of the forthcoming 2019 general polls, they seem to still be distracted and concerned more with the intent to launch more instability in the National Assembly. 

Instead of ruing over their failure to drive the finer points in the agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari through the legislative enterprise all of these three years, they spent their time on a less significant task of vitiating Saraki’s effectiveness in office. Even the legislative angle of the anti-corruption war did not record their spirited commitment, hence leaving the President in the present swirl of negative rating in sections of the populace. A key point in their current agenda is to unseat Saraki whenever the legislature resumes from its present recess.  

 In any case, so much drama has marked the political terrain in recent times and leaves Nigerians with whetted appetite for more. Given that the anti-Saraki group will need at least two third majority to unseat him as Senate President, efforts at his ouster will surely attract more drama on the political turf. Even then, such will only be just another round of the game of musical chairs, that is traditional Nigerian politics.

 Is it not an African proverb which says that “until the dancer is tired, the spectator has no cause to complain of fatigue”?