Nigeria's game of political musical chairs looks set to continue as the ruling party and opposition − as well as figures within − try to gives themselves the advantage. When Nigeria's four main opposition parties decided to band together in February 2013 to create the All Progressives Congress (APC), it sent shockwaves across the country's political landscape. For the first time since Nigeria's return to civilian government in 1999, it looked like the ruling People's Democratic Party's (PDP) dominance could be realistically challenged − especially as increasing numbers of disgruntled PDP members decamped to join the new party. Soon after the APC was established, five PDP governors and 37 members of the House of Representatives defected, while nearly a dozen senators declared their intentions to follow suit.
At the start of 2014 it seemed that all
the momentum was with the APC, but this picture has been significantly
complicated recently. At the start the February, the APC recorded its most high-profile defection when former vice-president Atiku Abubakar left
the PDP to join the opposition. The event was a big victory for the
APC, but was partly diminished by the divisive effect the move had on
Abubakar's considerable support base. Only a fraction of his supporters
chose to follow him to the APC, with the rest either choosing to remain
in the PDP or shift allegiance to the Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM),
a party Abubakar had considered joining, instead.
With the 2015
general elections around the corner, Abubakar's defection raises
questions over his political ambitions. In 2011, he ran to be the PDP's
presidential candidate but lost out to President Goodluck Jonathan, and rumours have emerged
that APC leader Bola Tinubu offered Abubakar the party's presidential
ticket in return for crossing the floor, something Abubakar denies.
Nevertheless, with many similarly prominent figures within the APC, it
remains to be seen how all of their ambitions will be accommodated.
the APC has faced also faced challenges. The 11 PDP senators who wish
to defect to the APC have still not been able to do so formally as a
court continues to deliberate the legality of such a move.
The PDP has regained
its majority in the House of Representatives after six APC members
defected to the ruling party along with a member of another opposition
party. And at the state level, key party leaders in Kwara and Adamawa
states also decamped to the PDP. They followed in the footsteps of their
counterparts in Kano and Sokoto states, meaning that in all but one of
the five states from which governors defected from the PDP to the APC in
November 2013, the APC has lost its original party leaders to the PDP. The
growing number and intractable nature of such disagreements reveals a
weakness within the APC, but the opposition party itself has pointed the
finger at external factors.
It accuses the ruling party of using
government funds to lure its members, especially legislators, into
defecting, and alleges that some of them are being offered as much as
between $1 million and $5 million in bribes. The PDP has denied these allegations, calling the APC a sore loser.What
is clear, however, is that this game of musical chairs is far from over
as politicians attempt to put themselves in an advantageous position in
view of the upcoming party primaries. As we continue to move through the pre-2015 election period, here are some things of which to take note.
Source: Think Africa Press