There is growing concern over the ability of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to play the much-needed strong opposition role to the All Progressive Congress (APC) following the spate of defections that has hit the party in the wake of General Mohammadu Buhari’s victory at the recently held presidential election.
Recently, former Justice Minister, Mike Aondoaka, renounced his membership of the PDP following the party’s loss at the presidential election.
Although, the former minister has not declared for any party yet, there are strong indications that he may be heading to the APC.
In Niger State, the Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Comrade Adams Erena, alongside 5,000 members of the PDP have defected to APC.
The story is no different in Benue State where there is also a mass movement from the PDP to APC among the close circles of Governor Gabriel Suswam. This is even as the Deputy Governor of Jigawa State, Ahmad Mahmud and notable political figures in Plateau and Kwara States have also ditched the party for the APC.
The concern therefore is that the PDP may not be able to function effectively as an opposition party if the spate of defections continue.
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Olisah Metuh, has accused the APC of trying to usher in a one party state by encouraging its members to join the party, to which his APC counterpart, Lai Mohammed, responded by insisting that the APC did not invite members of the PDP to come and join the APC, but noted that his party is not in a position to reject anybody who wants to identity with it.
The APC spokesperson further expressed concern at the development but explained that his party could not help it.
The situation has equally been eliciting reactions from notable Nigerians such as the General Secretary of the National Union of Textile, Garment and Tailoring Workers of Nigeria (NUTGTWN) and Deputy President of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), Comrade Isa Aremu, who described the development as a sign that politicians in Nigeria have little focus.
The labour leader lamented that politicians are now jostling for positions instead of working to deliver the dividends of democracy to the people.
“The electorate needs to be on the alert to remind the politicians to fulfill their promises. They are now jostling to get positions; everybody wants to be within the ruling party. The defections is just for positions, the truth is that APC is three quarter PDP.
“The needed opposition cannot come from the PDP; Nigerians should be looking at a new party because both the PDP and APC are the same people.”
In his own reaction, Prof. Aderemi Ajekigbe of the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), attributed the development to lack of ideology.
He explained that politics in the country is bereft of ideology.
“It is a normal thing in Nigeria, politics in the country is not based on ideology but on stomach infrastructure. They are all looking for money; they don’t have principles,”
A PDP stalwart in Ebonyi State, Abia Onyike, however, dismissed fear that the party may not function as a strong opposition party in the next dispensation, insisting that the party has all it takes to form a formidable opposition.
“The PDP has what it takes to play opposition, if you look at it, the party is still strong in the old Eastern Region which now make up the South East and South South geopolitical zones. “Eastern Nigeria has always had a tradition of opposition right from the colonial period. It was they who led most of the independent movements. The first notable opposition to the colonial government for instance, was led by Aba women, so they can stay play opposition,” he said.
Onyike who is the Director of Media and Publicity, Engineer Dave Umahi Campaign Organisation, nonetheless noted that there are weak PDP members who may defect to APC but insisted that the party does not need such people to function.
A lawyer, Emmanuel also played down the spate of decampments from PDP to the APC.
“I do not see Nigeria going back to being a one-party-state in years to come. The reason being that we have experienced the horror of being a set of people without options until the opposition surfaced few years ago and pushed hard to wrest the power off the centre from a single political party which has monopolized same for 16 years.”
Stories by PAUL DADA and EZUGWU OBINNA