The defection of scores of APC legislators to PDP today is very apt. It is an indication that Nigeria’s democracy is evolving. Nobody should talk about lack of ideological commitment here. Rather, what we are witnessing is evidence of fluidity of ideology, to wit, that the two main political parties, and indeed many others, share basically the same ideological persuasion. That is why movement back and forth is easy for their members. It is the same reason why CPC, ACN, ANPP, a faction of APGA, and nPDP could easily mesh as APC in 2015.
While the National Assembly, especially the Senate, had done quite well thus far in trying to beat an independent course from the executive, the current is now sure to move faster, and unimpeded in this direction. This is good for the principle of checks and balances, the very fulcrum around which representative democracy runs. It is now going to be more difficult for Mr. President to spend funds not appropriated by the legislature; disregard court rulings; disdain the Federal Character provision in the 1999 Constitution (as amended); and feint helplessness over wanton destruction of lives and property across the country by herdsmen. The reason for this is simple. He now knows that rather than the National Assembly having his back on all these unfortunate acts; with a more independent legislature in place, Mr. President must now watch his own back.
So, to the extent that it can serve to checkmate a president that has displayed unbridled proclivity to ride roughshod over the Constitution, the defection is good for Nigeria’s democracy. It is also good because it makes reelection less assured for the President, who in spite of his demonstrable lack of capacity, had carried on thus far as if the electorate never mattered. Now that the opposition is getting stronger, and evidently better able to give him a run for his money, the President has to earn the trust of the voters, by upping his game.
The spectacle of police cordoning off the Number Three citizen of the country, and his deputy, by whoever authorized, is condemnable. That’s arrant abuse of power. It underscores again the imperative of restructuring, and migration from extant concentration of power in the central government, to greater autonomy for the federating units. I commend the Senate President for containing the shenanigans of the executive, by finding his way into the chambers, and successfully conducting the affairs of the day. Had he not done that, a key institution of our democracy would by now have been brutally shut down, with sweeping deleterious consequences.
Make no mistake about this. This isn’t about specific political parties. It isn’t about 2019 or the ongoing parade of candidates. Rather, it is all about survival of this democracy, which warts and all, has greater promise than dictatorship.
Professor Femi Mimiko is a Nigerian educational administrator and former vice chancellor of Adekunle Ajasin University, a state-owned university named after the former governor of Ondo State, Nigeria. He tweets from @FemiMimiko.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.