Cross Carpeting Politicians Are Not True Party Faithfuls

In the UK, men and women join political parties that are compatible with their views about how societies should be run. Many sign up to one party or the other as students or as young professionals, trade unionists or whatever. And they usually continue to be members of the same party for the rest of their lives. They doggedly stick with their party through thick and thin. They stay despite occasional or regular conflicts with fellow party members. They stay even when they think their party has made mistakes. They stay even if their party does not provide them with the advancement they feel they deserve. They stay because they see their parties as the bigger picture and any disappointments or tensions that their parties inflict on them as the smaller picture. Gordon Brown, the most recent former Prime Minister of Britain was unceremoniously removed from the top slot by his subordinates because they blamed him for their election defeat. But he has not fled from the Labour Party in a fit of pique or publicly insulted his successor. Ditto Tony Blair, who was compelled to hand over to Gordon Brown. Ditto Margaret Thatcher, a previous Conservative Party boss who suffered a similar fate and was shoved into early retirement but remains a staunch Conservative. Brown, Blair and Thatcher would not be human if they didn’t bitterly resent the treatment they received; but none of them would dream of moving to other parties because other parties cannot satisfy them on a philosophical level. And they are, graciously, still willing to promote the parties that downgraded them. All of these onetime UK government heads are available to act as advisors to the current occupants of the thrones from which they were ejected. All are ready to put in a few good words for their parties during election campaigns. Here, the complete opposite is the case. Because most Nigerian politicians are cantankerous bad losers who aren’t driven by principles and feel entitled to prestigious jobs in perpetuity, cross carpeting comes very naturally to them. Even if they were founder members of various parties, they flounce off to join new parties when things don’t go their way. Several have already abandoned their original parties in recent months because they didn’t get the rock- solid assurances they required from the powers-that-be and want to maximize their chances of becoming legislators, governors or president. And there will no doubt be even more mass movements in the near future – when those who fail to secure their parties’ tickets in the primaries start to shop for new platforms. Then there’s the fact that many who have found it expedient to dump the PDP will opportunistically flock back to the PDP if it wins the election. And the fact that thousands of existing PDP members will jump ship without a backward glance or second thought or sleepless night if the PDP is trounced by Buhari (a very real possibility if the CPC, as expected, forms an alliance with the ACN). Nigerian grandees specialise in this kind of aggressive, shame- free jockeying for eternal relevance; and some, to be fair, don’t even have to do any jockeying at all. The big names are often invited to join or rejoin various parties and are lured into doing so by huge cash deals, juicy contracts or promises of substantial positions. On reflection, though I frequently criticise our politicians for behaving like spoiled sports stars who have no serious plans for developing the nation, I can understand why they are so lamentably fickle, mobile, ruthless and shallow. Nigeria is not a place that encourages good behaviour or deeply held convictions. Here, decent and potentially productive folks are oppressed and excluded. Here, people who try to cling to ethical codes are regarded as mad, daft or suicidal. This is a country in which unbecoming conduct delivers fantastic benefits, so can one totally blame those who decide to go with the flow for survival’s sake?

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