BusinessDay

APC, PDP primaries: Other parties set to reap from likely defections

… NNPP, SDP, APGA waiting in the wings

Considering the too many aspirants across the two major political parties; the All Progressive Congress (APC) and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP), and the feelers that certain politicians were already complaining of alleged form of injustice within their parties, some observers say that the primaries of the two major parties may ruffle some feathers, leading to defections.

Moreover, some of those who paid N100 million to get the nomination forms for the APC and N40 million for the PDP, who may have reasons to feel betrayed are likely to take drastic measures to vent their frustration.

Some of them are expected to seek soft landing in other parties. There is also the impression in some quarters that some of the opposition parties are only relevant as placeholders for politicians who hope to use their platforms once they lose out in the ruling APC and the main opposition PDP.

Some believe that these parties are owned and managed by political contractors who are only after what they would get from candidates who may have lost out in the two major parties and want to use their platform to contest elections.

A vivid example is the recent case of the movement of the ex-governor of Ekiti State, Segun Oni, to the Social Democratic Party (SDP) after he lost at the PDP governorship primary in the state.

Another example is the recent defection of former governor of Kano State, Rabiu Kwankwaso, with his loyalists from the PDP to the New Nigeria Peoples Party (NNPP).

There are also rumours that several leading politicians in the two major parties have concluded arrangements with smaller opposition parties to pick their ticket if they lose out in the primaries.

Lanre Oshungboye, a chieftain of the Accord Party in Lagos State, said the defection of politicians to lesser opposition parties has always been because of imposition of candidate on them by party leaders, wondering why a popular aspirant would stay back and watch his political ambition truncated when he had popular support.

According to him ,”Definitely, we all know for a fact that politics is a game of numbers; when a candidate is convinced and believes he has the number to challenge the establishment, why stay back where they will impose a preferred candidate on you?

“In politics, there is no permanent friend or foe, but permanent interest. If your interest is no longer protected in a political party, nothing stops you from actualising it on another platform.”

Chijioke Umelahi, a former Abia State lawmaker, who is aspiring for a seat at the Arochukwu/Ohaofia Federal Constituency, lamented that because of the about 150 percent increase in the nomination fee for the House of Representatives in the PDP, many have defected to APGA, which is equally a formidable force in the Eastern part of the country.

“I cannot dare the APC form because it is out of reach and my constituency favours PDP. Many of us are waiting for the primaries, if we fail, there is enough room in APGA,” the aspirant said.

The former lawmaker and lawyer also hinted that a top PDP presidential aspirant has an understanding with APGA, to run under the party if the primaries did not favour him.

In the same vein, Onyemdi Ikpeama, a senior lecturer at Abia State University Uturu, and former student union activist, expressed the view that implosion was looming, not just in the two major parties, but also in other parties that will be sacrificing loyalty of their staunch members for selfish interests of moneybags who will pay to get their presidential tickets.

“I see implosion because our politicians are very selfish and ready to do anything or pay any amount to remain in the corridors of power. So, if Atiku loses out in PDP, he has plan B. We all know Tinubu’s plan B. So, implosion is sure and it will enrich lesser known parties,” Ikpeama said.

Pundits also say that considering the calibre and influence of Rabi’u Musa Kwankwaso and Ibrahim Shekarau in some parts of the north, their activities in the NNPP could attract defectors from APC and PDP, who the primaries did not favour.

Also, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), which is rumoured to be Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s plan B to secure a presidential ticket, will become the new APC in the South West if Tinubu loses at the APC primaries and decides to run under SDP.

With the look of things, observers say that the NNPP, SDP and APGA are the parties that are going to reap the most from the implosion in APC and PDP after the primaries this May.

Speaking to BusinessDay, Rufai Ahmed Alkali, a professor and national chairman of the NNPP, explained why the party may have become a beautiful bride.

“The NNPP is the only party in Nigeria that has offered the youths less than 35 years of age fifty percent discount for the purchase of nomination forms. This has led to an influx of youths to the party and the party is equal to the task as it has put in place all measures to avoid rancour during the election,” Alkali said.

According to him, “It is not in doubt that Nigerians are tired and are therefore looking for a better option. Happily, with the caliber people joining our party such as Senator Shekarau, the New Nigeria People’s Party is today that new option that Nigerians have been yearning and waiting for. And we promise Nigerians that we shall do everything possible to ensure that every Nigerian is carried along. This party is all about correcting past and current mistakes done by the APC and PDP and with your support, we shall achieve a better Nigeria and very soon it shall be the number one force in the country.”

Fredrice Uyigue, Edo South senatorial vice chairman of the NNPP, said the party has a formidable structure and it is equipped to compete favourably with the other two parties.

Uyigue opined that the NNPP is a better solution to Nigeria’s problems, adding that the party would project a presidential candidate who is qualified to deliver the dividends of democracy that the people have been yearning for since 1999.

“It is only the best that can give us hope of deliverance and prosperity in our society. We cannot keep pushing up mediocre or be nepotistic in the choices of people to lead us. Both parties who have been in power are one and the same, and they keep criss-crossing.

“Disaffection is bound to happen among members of those parties, and many will come to our party. We will welcome them, but we will also demand some quality and assurances that they will not bring their bad practices from their old party to ours.

“We set a different agenda from the beginning, which is different from the other parties. NNPP has repositioned itself to respond to the inadequacies of the other parties,” Uyigue said.

Marvis Osagie, a Benin resident, told BusinessDay that, “Most of these top aspirants have seen the signs already that they may be disqualified and, as such, will grab the opportunity if given the chance to defect to another party so as to fulfill their political ambitions.

“In the past few days, we have seen some developments among some parties, and it is glaring that a merger is possible so they can field a stronger candidate who will become a third force to the likes of the APC and the PDP,” he said.

Read also: 2023: Political atmosphere hots up as PDP, APC elect presidential candidates consecutively

The limitation

But, this will not be a smooth ride as observers say the aggrieved defectors and their party may be challenged with the onerous task of dislodging the existing structure of the APC and that of the PDP within a short time frame.

Some pundits say that the “smaller” opposition parties would continue to find it difficult to win election, because most of them have no grassroots presence and are often not prepared for major elections.

“Well, maybe you are referring to SDP and NNPP as the parties that would reap from any implosion in the leading parties, but this might not really have adverse effect on the chances of the APC and PDP in retaining their position as the leading political parties in the 2023 race.

“The smaller parties don’t have structure; do you know the secretariat of any of them in Lagos? They only come and set up a place when the election is approaching, that is why, even if the big politicians defect to contest there, they may not win.

“Yes, APC may likely implode but any faction or group that moves to another party may not really make any headway in the long run on,” Kunle Okunade, political analyst, said.

Okunade added that he does not expect any significant implosion in the two major parties, especially the PDP ahead of the 2023 election.

“For now, it is obvious that the expected implosion may not occur in PDP based on what is going on in the party, which looks like the leaders would settle for an agreed terms.

“We may not experience the effect of the 2014 implosion in PDP, in this coming election because those that would be affected would be minority in the party.

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