Post Read 62 times
The wanton and unprincipled manner Nigerian politicians defect from one political party to another is condemnable.
This is why we align with the position of a civil society group – Change Revolution – on the matter concerning the defection of Senator Robert Borofice from Ondo State.
The group, penultimate week, faulted the report of the Senate Committee on Ethics, Privileges and Public Petitions which recently recommended
the dismissal of Senator Borofice, Labour Party (LP) (Ondo North) from the National Assembly over his defection to the All Progressive Party (APC). According to the group, the power to remove any lawmaker in either National Assembly or State Assemblies does not lie in the judiciary or legislature, but purely in the electorate from the particular constituency the lawmaker concerned represents in the legislative assembly. That key public figures and institutions have continued to denigrate and degrade democratic practice through wanton disregard for core values and norms is a sad reminder that this country is in a deep mess and unlikely to improve on the standards of performance that have stalled material progress for decades.
Although Sections 68 and 69 of the 1999 Constitution give the power to recall any member of an assembly only to his or her constituent, moral rectitude demands that the said lawmaker resigns his or her seat the moment he or she defects to another party.
The key issue here has been resolved by the actions of an honourable man in the British parliament.
In 1973, Dick Taverne QC, a former British Labour Cabinet Minister, defected from the Labour Party (LP) to the newly formed Social Democratic Party (SDP). Taverne as a matter of principle resigned his seat in parliament and asked for a fresh mandate on the platform of his new party. The electors of his Lincoln Constituency subsequently gave him an overwhelming endorsement. This much is what is expected of our politicians if truly they understand the principles of democracy.
There is nothing wrong if a politician moves from his/her party to another, particularly if such politician’s interests are no longer protected by the former. What is patently condemnable is the level of opportunism and dubious political prostitution being displayed by our politicians when the bread-and-butter political culture no longer favours them.
Almost all the parties in the current political dispensation since 1999 have benefited from this show of shame as a result of the failure of the constitution to be categorical about it.
The recommendation of the Senate Committee was, therefore, a deliberate effort to undermine the constitution and substitute whimsicality for objectivity. Rather than gun for the review of the constitution to reflect the logic that any one who indulges in cross-carpeting must forfeit his or her portfolio, the attempt by the Senate committee to remove Borofice is a clear manifestation of the exclusivist proclivities of the present political order.
Yet, unfortunately, politicians of the so-called progressive parties seem to have benefited more from this irresponsible way of changing political camps. A few examples will suffice here.
Hon. Patricia Etteh rode on the back of Alliance for Democracy (AD) to the House of Representatives, crossed to the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to become first female Speaker of the House. Former governor of Imo State, Ikedi Ohakim got into office on the platform of the Progressive Peoples Alliance (PPA) in 2007 which he later ditched for the PDP before the 2011 election when he sought for a re-election and lost. And more recently, his successor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha who rode on the back of All Progressives Grand Alliance (APGA), after several carpet-crossings, to become governor of Imo State has once more defected to the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) while still holding the portfolio of his former party. The list is unending. Indeed, the real possibility exists that Nigerian politicians still find it conceptually difficult to adjust to the new consensus for egalitarian democracy. Also, for many dispassionate observers, the parties have displayed an amazing poverty of commitment to true democratic ideals. For instance, if the APC had advised Okorocha to resign from his exalted position as governor since APGA, his former party refused to merge with APC, he would have emerged a hero of democracy and could still have won again in 2015. To argue therefore that the nation is democratising with politicians who lack democratic temperaments is to understate the matter. Those who go to equity must do so with clean hands!