Date Published: 08/18/09
CROSS-CARPETING AND OUR LEADERS
By Sampson Akwafuo
A lot of matters have risen following Gov. Ikedi Godson Ohakim’s recent defection from PPA to PDP. The dust raised by this ‘Owerri Declaration’ of July 25 will certainly take a longer time to settle. This is not the first time we are experiencing such an event, although there are some peculiarities attached to this. Govs. Mahmud Shinkafi and Isa Yuguda of Zamfara and Bauchi States respectively have done the same in the recent past.
There are various perspectives to this unbecoming action of our supposedly leaders and political models. It goes along way to show that our political parties and movements are not based on sound ideologies and principles. In the US, generations of families like Bush, Carter, Giuliani, and Cheney have remained Republicans and are ever ready to remain there. Same applies to the Clintons, Kennedys, Carters, Deans, Bidens, Pelosis, Edwards, etc. who, according their principles, have sound reasons to remain Democrats. It is also rare for a Labour faithful to move to Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Green or any other party in UK. When the parties tend to deviate from the principles of the founding fathers, they call the attention of the leaders and even contribute in putting the parties back on the right track. This points to the fact that our political system in Nigeria needs total overhauling and reengineering.
PPA is crying foul (Yes, its members have reasons to do so), pointing accusing fingers on the machineries of PDP, who, through intimidations and manipulations coerced Ohakim into joining PDP. When Vincent Ogbulafor said in Bayelsa that PDP will rule Nigeria for 60 years, many of us dismissed it with a wave of hand. It is glaring that PDP is bent on turning Nigeria into a one-party state. It is a hypocritical act of the highest order that while Yar’Adua has sent An Electoral Reform Bill to the National Assembly proposing to ban cross-carpeting, he is aiding and abating the action.
Democracy cannot thrive without vibrant opposition. And the issue of Selective Justice in Nigeria needs to be analysed. The judiciary has been living up to expectation. Yes, but there is still room for improvement. INEC must sit up and perform statutory duties as am impartial umpire. In 2006, INEC conducted bye elections to fill vacant seat created by the defection of members of Plateau State House of Assembly. They defected from PDP to AC. It later repeated this when members of the Sokoto State House of Assembly loyal to the then Gov. Attahiru Bafarawa defected from ANPP to DPA. Now, what is preventing INEC from doing same in Bauchi State where 17 members of the House have decamped from ANPP to PDP?
Does Ohakim/Okwuonu and other defected Governors have the legal and moral right to remain as the helms men of their respective states? This is another issue that needs to be determined now. In Amaechi Vs INEC & others (2007) 5NWLR, The Supreme Court affirmed that mandate belongs to political parties, not to individuals. Of course, the governors did not stand as independent candidates.
In order to avoid prejudicing the court, let us wait and see the outcome of PPA Vs Ohakim/Okwuonu in the Federal High Court Abuja.
London , UK