“I didn’t leave the Democratic Party. The Party left me.”–Ronald Reagan
I have no problem with political defections founded on certain valued principles. Are defections in Nigeria founded on any valid, identifiable principles? Are opportunistic defections influenced by the desire to avoid prosecution or embarrassment consistent with any genuine principles meant to protect public interest? Joining a political party for the sake of political survival, and not because of any coherent principle doesn’t impress me.
“Hannibal Hamlin was Abraham Lincoln’s first Vice President. He was a life-long Democrat who switched parties after 1856, when he didn’t agree with the pro-slavery position taken by many party members. His defection to the Republicans made national headlines.”(National Constitution Center).
Hamlin’s example cited above clearly expresses the concept of principles founded on valid moral reasons. Here was a man who left his Party because of his opposition to slavery–an anathema his fellow Party men supported. This kind of defection is understandable and defensible.
When it comes to moral issues, the opinion of the majority is not necessarily right. Why should you remain in a political party whose policy is inconsistent with your beliefs or principles for the sake of survival? If you don’t believe in the war against corruption, what would be your motive for seeking shelter under the roof of a political Party that’s committed to fighting graft?
The desperate competition to join the party in power, mainly by politicians with corruption cases in court, leaves me wondering if these defections are influenced by any principles. The fact is that opportunism and principle cannot coexist. They are mutually exclusive. They are like oil and vinegar. How many Democrats defected to GOP after the Dems lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump?
In Nigeria, however, as soon as Buhari was elected President in 2015, the former ruling party witnessed an unprecedented wave of defections by its own prominent members into APC. Men of principles don’t swim with the tide for the sake of survival.
English politician Stanley Baldwin famously said:
“I would rather stay afloat as an opportunist than sink with my principles tied around my neck.” I believe majority of our local politicians are in good company. It’s little wonder, therefore, why political defections don’t excite interest in Nigeria because of the character of our politicians.