Bwacha: Interrogating the Gale of Defection
Joshua Omoloye, Politics Editor, Abuja
Senate Deputy Minority Leader, Emmanuel Bwacha shocked many Nigerians with his defection last Thursday from his Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC).
He was led to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa by the Chairman, APC Caretaker Committee and Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
It is not unprecedented that principal officers of the opposition parties crossed to the other side of the aisle but the effect of such defection on the opposition caucus might be too damning at this moment in the Nigerian polity.
Just in July 2021 did the former Deputy Minority Whip of the Senate, Sahabi Ya’u (Zamfara North) defected alongside his state governor, Bello Matawalle to APC. He was replaced by the PDP with Senator Ibrahim Abdullahi Danbaba (Sokoto South).
With the gale of defection rocking the main opposition party, the Peoples’ Democratic Party, (PDP), the ruling All Progressives Congress, (APC) has taken firm control of the two chambers of the National Assembly.
Out of the 360 Representatives in the Green Chamber, APC has not less than 237 members. While in the Senate
APC now has 71 members at the detriment of PDP whose membership has been deleted to 37, The Young Peoples Party (YPP) completed the list with just 1 senator.
The number of APC members in the Parliament now gives the party more than the required two-thirds to exert an overwhelming influence on every legislative subject.
Bwacha’s defection had renewed the blame game on the root cause of defection as well as justification for cross-carpeting.
During the trying period and dying days of the immediate past National Chairman of PDP in office, Prince Uche Secondus was accused of divisiveness which forced some notable members of PDP out of the party to the APC.
Recall that a member of the House of Representatives, Rimamnde Shawulu, once called on the former National Chairman of the PDP, Prince Uche Secondus to resign from his position for failing to stanch the flow of defections from the party to APC.
Majority of the decampees have always blamed their action on the seeming crisis in the party at the state level.
When Senator Elisha Abbo of Adamawa North defected, he said it was as a result of the mismanagement of the PDP by Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri in Adamawa State which led to the crisis in the party that in turn led to the polarization of PDP in Adamawa.
Read More: Edo: 14 APC Lawmakers Seek Political Solution, Petition Ayu
Leaders of the PDP have serially accused the ruling APC of poaching its members through subtle blackmail and threat of prosecution for real or imaginary misdeeds in public office.
But a member of APC, Niyi Akinsiju frowned at the coinage ‘poaching’. He said it will be wrong for PDP to allege that its members were being poached.
He argued that the defectors are independent-minded politicians who know what is best for them at any given time of their political career. “So, to say they are being poached is wrong.
“It is not about poaching. The high-profile politicians defecting have seen APC as a beacon of political emancipation, a platform on which they can express themselves. It is the democratic credentials of APC that attract them. It is not about poaching as been erroneously attributed by members of PDP”.
The Chairman of the Buhari Media Organisation (BMO) further told The Trumpet that the movements can also be attributed to the integrity, maturity and selflessness that President Muhammadu Buhari has brought to bear on governance and party politics.
He said the fact that three opposition governors who last year defected to APC cited President Buhari’s character and performance in office, as part of the reasons for their action, shows that the administration has been fair to everyone, regardless of party affiliation.
“This is because we have a President who within his first few weeks in office in 2015 ensured that all states that were unable to pay workers’ salaries got a bailout. We make bold to say that only a fair-minded President would approve a combined intervention package of $2.1bn to bail out bankrupt states without regional or party consideration.
“It is also on record that the Federal Government, under President Buhari’s watch, also distributed a further N1.1trn comprising N689.5bn in bailouts and N310bn in loans backed by the Excess Crude Accounts which at least 35 states benefited from.
“So, is it surprising that not even one Governor from the opposition rank could accuse the President of the type of unfair treatment that was the signature of the PDP years when handling States governed by opposition parties?
Stressing that moving out of PDP in droves is a reflection of its failure as an opposition party, Akinsiju said “rather than the opposition party to embark on some introspection on the defection of the three governors from the party in less than six months and some legislators, PDP prefers to toe the path of its usual grandstanding spiced with empty rhetoric.
“This is a party that opened its doors wide to receive the Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki in the run-up to the governorship election in the State last year, yet it threatens that the Zamfara Governor and all the lawmakers risk losing their positions for defecting to APC.
“We also find it amusing that PDP could claim that the Buhari administration and the ruling party want to cover up what it tagged poor performance by luring its governors, especially as the same party had once alleged that the defecting governors were lured with the offer of Presidential ticket for the 2023 election.
“We dare say that this clearly shows the level of thinking among PDP leadership, and explains why it failed as a ruling party and now as an opposition party because we wonder how top politicians with years of experience in politics could run into a party that is performing poorly, from what we are made to believe is a pristine gathering.
“What PDP does not want to admit is that the performance of the Buhari administration is the biggest threat yet to its existence, and its leaders are therefore flustered at the mass exodus from the sinking ship that the party has become.
“We need to remind the opposition party, its supporters and allies, that it was about this same time, in the twilight of the Jonathan administration that they lost five governors and several other top members to the APC, but this time the same party is losing its governors to the ruling party”
National Secretary, Caretaker Extraordinary Convention Planning Committee,(CECPC) John James Akpanudoedehe reminded the PDP of its pastime of muscling the opposition.
He said: “Nigerians will recall how the PDP government in 2003 muscled and eventually collapsed the main opposition party, Alliance for Democracy (AD) by illegally deploying state machinery aided by security services then at their disposal to capture five of the six states in the Southwest geo-political zone under the control of AD.
“The PDP mastered and weaponised the undemocratic and devious strategy in the well-reported inducement of National Assembly members in the then PDP government’s rejected and failed bid to amend the constitution for tenure extension, known as ‘Third Term Agenda.’
“From Ekiti, Anambra, Plateau, Oyo and Bayelsa states, democratically- elected governors were unconstitutionally removed from office by the then PDP government through manipulation of state assemblies and other gestapo tactics. Elected governors were jailed and some were forced into exile.
“Nigerians cannot forget the dangerous ‘do-or-die’ politics the PDP government introduced to the country’s political lexicon and electioneering.”
“We wish to make it clear that those who defected to the APC from the dying PDP have done so in recognition and appreciation of the indisputable achievements of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.
“They are coming in droves to be part of the APC’s continuing drive to improve the wellbeing of all Nigerians in all parts of the country.
“PDP in its bid to legitimize the flawed 2009 presidential election again muscled and induced the then main opposition, All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) into forming a ‘Government of National Unity’, leading to the ANPP’s fictionalisation and eventual crash.
“In the same period, the PDP literally swallowed the Progressive People’s Alliance (PPA) with the party leadership joining the PDP, furthering its one-party state ambitions.”
However, PDP spokesperson, Ologunagba said defection in party politics is not a one-sided affair while hinting at the impending movement of top notchers from APC back to PDP.
He said a serious implosion is imminent in APC and many aggrieved members will retrace their steps back to PDP, stressing that “it is just a matter of time”.
“As politicians, we are watching moves in the ruling party and I can tell you that in a couple of weeks from now, there will be massive movement of politicians from APC to PDP.
“PDP is expecting many parliamentarians from APC before the election due to the inability of APC to manage its crisis. We are going to reap from the fallout of the APC’s
“It is crystal clear. The mood of the nation, signals we are getting, discussions we are having, confirmed that many politicians are moving to PDP”, he assured.
Whichever way the tide of defection blows will surely have an effect on the outcome of the 2023 election at the federal and state levels.