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Political Party, Defection And The Law

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Nigeria has had a chequered political history of defection of party members from their party to another right from the pre – colonial administration.

Defection has characterised the political landscape of Nigeria. It is usually normal in politics to defect to another political party. Is the trend healthy for the political development of Nigeria? Does it portend stability for a political party? Does the law regulating political parties activities allow such defection?  What actually is the position of the law on the subject matter? These questions are begging for answer.

But the trend of political defection of politicians from one party to another is quite alarming right from when Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999 to now. This is unlike during the famous early morning defection of Convention of Nigeria citizens (NCNC) elected members to the Action Group on the floor of the Western Nigeria House of Assembly in 1951.

Political party defectors are usually regarded as political prostitutes without political principle, morality, conscience and lacking in political ideology to champion the cause of leadership for the well being of the society and political development of the country.

Barrister Jas Awanen adduce reason(s) for cross carpeting or defection of politicians, saying the trend result from personality clash, power tussles, divergent views on the operations of a political party’s philosophy, crisis or division within a given political party, disagreement on party’s position on an issue, realisation of one’s personal political ambition and party leaders reneging on agreed issues of the political party probably on power sharing formula.

During the first Republic, the former Premier of the defunct Western Region of Nigeria, Chief Ladoke Akintola left the then Action Group in a crisis rooted more in personality clash and personal principles of the need for him to move the Yoruba race into the Nigeria’s mainstream politics.

Even within the late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe political fold the great political philosopher, Dr. Kingsley Mbadiwe defected from the NCNC to form his political party, the Democratic Party of Nigeria in the 50s based on disagreement with the party leaders.

Records also have it that in the old Ondo State during the Second Republic, Chief Akin Omoboriowo, the then deputy governor of United Party of Nigeria (UPN) government of Chief Michael Ajasin defected to join the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) and became its gubernatorial candidate.

However, from 1999 to date many politicians at the local government, state and federal levels had consistently defected from one political party to the other. Some did so abandoning the parties on whose platform they were elected, while others after losing elections found it the best option for them to cross carpet to another political party.

According to Port Harcourt-based legal practitioner, Tami Abbiye-Suku, defection portends danger for the political system.

Politicians should exercise patience and show maturity in the way they play politics,” he said, adding that defection to a ruling party may lead to one party system which is not healthy for the political development of the nation”.

In another breath Abbiye-Suku said “there is great need for political parties to have ideologies, programme, policies which will serve as a compass to their members and discourage them from defecting to another party”.

Meanwhile, some past and serving senators, Governors, House of Representatives members, State legislators, council chairmen and councilors have abandoned their elected political party platform for another on the excuse of factional crisis or division within their political party.

In the senate, Dr Wahab Dosunmu, Senator Adeseye Ogunlere and Senator Musulius Obanikoro all elected on the platform of Alliance of Democracy (AD) Lagos State defected to join the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). Chief Arthur Nzeribe (Imo), Senator John Nwanunu (Abia) Dr Usman Kadir (Kogi) the trio defected from the All Nigeria People Party (ANPP) to join the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).

Besides Senator Satti Gogwin, Action Congress (Plateau) defected to join the ruling party (PDP), while Senator Iyiola Omisore former deputy governor of Osun State on the platform of Alliance for Democracy defected to join the PDP and became elected senator of the party.

In Abia State, Comrade Uche Chukwuemerijie elected on the ruling Peoples Democratic Party platform defected to the pregressive People Alliance (PPA). Chief Sergeant Awuse former chairman Board of  Directors, federal Airport Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) defected from the ruling party to become the Gubernatorial candidate of Democratic Peoples Party (DPP)  Alhaji Attahiru Bafarawa former Governor of Sokoto State on the platform of All Peoples Party (APP) left to form the DPP and became its presidential candidate in 2007 general election even as Chief Orji Kalu left the ruling People  Democratic Party to form the Progressives Peoples Alliance (PPA) and became its presidential candidate.

Recently a third term senator Patrick Osakwe representing Delta North defected from the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) for Accord Party. Not long enough, the elected senator also abandoned AP and defected to the Peoples Democratic Party again alleging division within the party.

But the National Legal Adviser of the Accord Party, Barrister Sikiru Oke said, Senator Osakwe by his action disregarded the party’s constitution and laid down procedure and rules of doing things in an organised society.

The senator was accused of instigating, sponsoring crisis within party as justification for his despicable act.

The incumbent Governor of Ondo State, Dr. Olusegun Mimiko was once the SSG of Ondo State government and former minister under the ruling Peoples Democratic Party. He defected to the labour part, at the turn up of events became the State Governor.

The governor of Imo State, chief Ikedi Ohakim who contested the primaries of PDP and got only three votes. Later he defected to the Progressive Peoples Alliance and became its gubernatorial candidate. He was eventually  elected the governor but after defected from PPA back to PDP. Even the governor of Bauchi State and former minister defected from PDP to ANPP to be elected governor of Bauchi only to move back to PDP.

Abbiye-Suku explained that the trend shows the despicable chameleon character of Nigeria politicians and struggle for political relevance without any conscience and political ideologies as a driving force while they are in politics”.

He called on Nigeria’s politicians to show some level of principle rather than ambition. However, what is the position of the law on defection  Zamfara State, the defection of the state governor, Alhaji Aliyu Shinkafi and his deputy Mukhtar Anka from the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was challenged in court by the leadership of the ANPP.

But in a landmark judgement delivered by the Federal High Court, Gusau Division presided over by Justice Adamu Bello, the suit was dismissed on the ground that the action of the governor and his deputy was not illegal going by the provisions of the 1999 constitution.

Section 177 of the 1999 constitution clearly states that a person shall only be qualified for election into the office of the governor of the state if he is a member of a political party and sponsored by a political party. The same 1999 constitution did not state that such a person cannot leave that party after achieving electoral victory.  This is only in respect of an elected governor.

In the decided case of Abubakar Atiku VAGF the supreme court held that a person sponsored by a political party to power could leave the same party to another without breaching any section of the constitution.

But in respect of elected senator, House of Representative members and state legislators the 1999 constitution specifically in section 68(1)(g) and (2) and 109ig) (2) only makes provisions for the tenure of members of the legislature and not that of the executive.

The provisions clearly state that a state or federal lawmakers must vacate his or her seat after defecting to another political party, member of the Senate or House of Representative shall vacate his seat in the House of which he is a member if (g) being a person whose election to the House was sponsored by a political party before the expiration of the period for which that house was elected provided that his membership of the latter political party is not as a result of a division in the political party of which he was reviously a member or of a merger of two or more political parties or faction by one of which he was previously sponsored”.

This provision has been explored by elected legislators to defect from their political party to another. Even it is evident that the constitution stipulated that one can leave a political party on the ground of factional crisis within a given political party.

However, one manifestation of the history of defection on the Nigeria’s political landscape is that a preponderance of those who defect do so in favour of the ruling political party in power either at the centre or state level.

This situation portends great danger for sustainable democracy and if left unchecked could move the nation towards a drift of one political party system without any viable opposition to act as check  on the ruling political party.

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CAN Accuses El-Rufai Of Hidden Agenda

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The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has accused Governor Nasir El-Rufai of engaging in politics with civil servants and residents of the state.
This was contained in a statement issued on Tuesday by the state chairman of CAN, Rev. John Joseph Hayab, in the aftermath of the pronouncement of a four-day work week by the governor.
El-Rufai had said the state government would begin implementing the transitional arrangement in the public service starting from December 1, 2021.
However, the CAN Chairman urged caution, stating that the citizens of the state had been subjected to pains by this government through some of its unpopular policies.
He advised civil servants in the state not to celebrate the policy yet until they were convinced that there was no hidden agenda behind it.
“Workers must be sure that the policy is not aimed at reducing their salaries.
“They must be convinced that the government will not wake up one day with another shocking news of salary reduction since the five working days have been reduced to four.”
“How can a state that is not secured talk about giving workers time for agriculture and be with family when bandits move about freely, terrorising people in their homes, on the farms, and on the highways!
“How can one spend time with family when you have nothing to feed them or provide for their basic needs?” he said.

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Meagre Allocation Stalls Adamawa LG Polls

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The Adamawa State Independent Electoral Commission (ADSIEC) has postponed the December 4 local government council polls indefinitely due to  lack of funds.
ADSIEC Information Officer, Innocent Daniel, said on Monday that the commission was awaiting funds from the government to conduct a free, fair and transparent election.
“Among the major challenges that led to the postponement of the election was the meagre allocation to the commission in the state’s 2021 budget.
“The allocation is too meagre for the commission to organise and conduct the election.
“Also, the re-usable election materials such as ballot boxes, duty vests, bags and kits were completely vandalised during the #Endsars protest,” he said.
The Information officer said that the commission was also faced with the problem of handling the new polling units that were converted from voting points by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
He said that the conversion had raised the polling units in the state from 2,609 to 4,104.
“This development will lead to an increase in facilities and ad hoc staff. The ongoing registration of new voters will also have a resultant increase in ballot paper requirements.
“It is in this regard that the preparations for the local government council election for December 4, is hereby suspended to give the government time to source for funds,” Mr Daniel said.

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2023: Northern Youths Urge Old Politicians To Steer Clear

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Politicians above 60 years of age have been urged to stay away from the presidential race come 2023.
The appeal was made by the leadership of the Concerned Northern Youth Forum (CNYF) in Kaduna yesterday.
They argued that in developed nations, people of that age and experience were mostly engaged in charitable activities, free consultancy services and other forms of selfless services.
The spokesman of the group, Comrade Abdulsalam Moh’d Kazeem, called on youths to take advantage of the “not too young to rule”  to participate actively in the political arena.
Also, a north-based group has tasked Nigerian youths to join politics to free the country of bad governance.
Coordinator of the group, National Youth Movement for Good Governance, Nasiru Aliyu, who disclosed this at a news briefing in Kaduna, said Nigeria requires young hands that can work assiduously to address its developmental challenges.
Meanwhile, some stakeholders in the North Central zone and bigwigs of the PDP in the region, have thrown their weight behind the candidature of Bukola Saraki in the 2023 presidency.
The group, led by Professor Iyorwuese Hagher, stated this on Monday during the advocacy committee meeting for Saraki with party members and delegations from across the zone at the Nasarawa State party secretariat in Lafia.
An associate of Saraki, Alhaji Kawu Baraje, urged the party to consider Saraki as its presidential candidate for 2023 to salvage the country from total collapse.
Also, the campaign team of a former presidential candidate of the PDP, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, on Monday met with the party’s officials and stakeholders from the three senatorial districts of Benue State over the 2023 general elections.
The leader of the team, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, said they were in Benue as forerunners of Atiku to consult with the elders of the PDP in the state and ask them for support for their principal who will be contesting the presidential poll in 2023.
Similarly, a support group, Tinubu Legacy Forum (TLF), has said the national leader of the ruling APC, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, is not too old to contest the presidency.
While 69-year-old Tinubu has not formally declared his presidential interest, his recent visitations and series of support groups, rooting for him, show his interest in contesting the 2023 presidency, probably under the APC.
Addressing newsmen on Monday in Abuja, the Coordinator, TLF, FCT Chapter, Barrister Abdullahi Awwal Muhammad, said Tinubu was not too old to contest for the presidency.
In Lagos, a Yoruba group yesterday endorsed the former Governor of Imo State, Rochas Okorocha as the next president. The group, under the aegis of Oduduwa Sons and Daughters for Equity and Justice, declared that the Yoruba people have decided to support a South-Easterner as successor to President Muhammadu Buhari.

 

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