By Osondu Ahirika
The Ibibios have an adage that says, ewa ase kene owo akpon idip, koro mi toro’ke toro, aya kok. Translated, it means, a dog following a man with bulging stomach is full of expectation, for he will either stool or vomit for the dog to lap up. That describes the paradox of defection from one party to another in Nigeria.
A few years back, the PDP enjoyed the boom of defections when the going was good. In the current trend, she suffers a reversal of that fate.
I read a piece, titled, ‘Before PDP Dies in Akwa Ibom’, written by my brother and friend, Franklyn Isong and I had a good laugh. I laughed, because, the adage above instructs me more on what is really going on.
I credit the spur to write this piece to Franklyn Isong. In no distant time, I want his thesis to be pitted against my antithesis, and let tomorrow judge who is right.
Before proceeding, let me share, as I am always wont to do, a short but true story.
In a certain hamlet where families lived in clusters with almost everyone knowing each other, there lived a couple who were of great service to all.
The couple ran a private clinic which was the only medical facility in the area, to which, every ailing resident went for treatment and cure.
The husband of the doctor, let’s call her Johny, was a classic irony to behold. She was skinny, sickly, without appetite and so gaunt looking.
Worst still, she was so lean that, her scrawny, skeletal frame gave her away, in the judgment of all, as a woman who will die, perhaps, the next second, a minute later or the coming hour.
On the flipside, her hubby was a juxtaposing contrast to her famished frame. He was full of life, vigorous in speech, burly and well endowed, even as his shapely figure resonated such machoist energy that disguised his age.
He was a dutiful and loving husband, and served with his wife as the auxiliary caregiver in the clinic.
Whenever his wife was off to the General Hospital in town, or out for any reason, he was responsible to hang a notice on the main entry door to the clinic, which read: DOCTOR, GONE OUT, BACK SOON. Any patient who approached the clinic and saw the sign understood the meaning, without further inquiry. They usually go back to return later when the notice is off.
That is however, not the issue. Soon, the Doctor who was saving lives got very sick. Her husband worked round the clock to support and assist her. He was her hands, legs and all. She was so weak, the whole city mourned and were only counting days she lived on as a bonus of grace. But, as sometimes happens, the husband who was full of vibes and blossom slumped and died.
On that eventful day, the clinic was not open and the ubiquitous signpost on the door wasn’t there either.
Some curious clients made it to the residence and met a dejected and broken Dr Jenny staring into space.
Without waiting to be asked what was amiss, she said to the stunned visitors with all the power she could exert, ”He is Gone, He wont be back Soon!”
Folks’, that story is my approximation of the fate of PDP and the rival APC.
The APC in this case is the husband and the PDP, Dr Johny. Like our elders once said, you may be expecting the dry leaf to fall only for the green leaf to do so.
I am of the conviction that, going forward, the All Progressives Congress may wither and wilt, while the seemingly dying Peoples Democratic Party, like the proverbial phoenix, may reinvent herself.
I am not persuaded by the one-way traffic of defections to the APC, to believe, or conclude, the party is healthy and thriving. Like speed, obesity kills. And believe me if you will, the APC is more than obese.
Let me attempt a forecast of tomorrow for I see the writing on the wall. Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National Leader of the APC is still nursing deep seated wounds that have been remorselessly inflicted on him, by disparate and contending forces that were annexed into the APC at formation. He will reassert himself come 2019. Already, he has hinted that, he will run for the Presidency if the conditions are right.
As I can see, President Muhammadu Buhari who was the binding figure that stitched the party together is out of the picture. In a few months, the mother of all battles for the soul of the APC will blow open. When this happens, we will see who stays and what happens with the APC.
Don’t forget, nobody can rein in the ambition of former Vice President Atiku Abubakar to become President of Nigeria. Others like former Kano governor Musa Kwakwanso, current Kaduna governor, Nasiru El’Rufai, Sokoto governor, Aminu Tambuwal, Senate President Bukola Saraki and the far Northern flank of the APC will spoil for a showdown if the Afenifere South West bloc of the party dare to put forward a candidate come 2019.
Even the South Eastern caucus of the APC have begun to find their voice to be given a chance in the party. The battle for the parties ticket will be messy and implosive. You can bank on that, believe me. The casualties will lead a major revolt of realignment of forces and APC will disperse from the centre.
Once this happens, new parties will break out of its womb.
Is that good news for the PDP? I don’t think so. The PDP on the other hand must reinvent her narrative and show a new identity. There will be an exodus from the APC and PDP as presently constituted, which will morph into a third force. Then, the three parties will go head-to-head. That is what I see tomorrow. Where that leads, I can’t tell.
Howbeit, the defections from party A to party B is healthy for our democracy.
I had a long discourse with former Commissioner Pastor Ita Udo on the issue and I could not agree more with his thesis.
Those who defect are doing so to seek greener pastures. In the process, some of them have bagged Federal appointments from the APC led federal Government, which was not the case before. If they didn’t defect, Akwa Ibom for instance wouldn’t have all those plum jobs come the way of their illustrious sons.
Ultimately, it is good for all birds to fly as the sky is wide enough for each to find its altitude.The one that says the other shouldn’t fly should have its wings broken an igbo adage says.
Folks, live and let live. That’s what I say to both APC and PDP. Let the defections continue, what goes up, must surely come down.
In his book Arrow of God, Professor Chinua Achebe(peace on his ashes) told us of the scheme of Ezeulu, the embattled Priest of Ulu to his son, Oduche, when faced with the threat of the whiteman’s religion. Hear Ezeulu,
“‘The world is changing,’ he had told him. ‘I do not like it. But I am like the bird eneke-nti-oba. When his friends asked him why he was always on the wing he replied: “Men of today have learnt to shoot without missing and so I have learnt to fly without perching.” I want one of my sons to join these people and be my eye there.
If there is nothing in it you will come back . But if there is something there you will bring home my share.
The world is like a Mask dancing. If you want to see it well you do not stand in one place. My spirit tells me that those who do not befriend the white man today will be saying had we known tomorrow.”
Folks, that is the philosophy of defection. Those going to APC today, do so because the APC is like the whiteman who must be befriended to avoid regret tomorrow. Just that, if in the end, nothing comes out of it as ‘My share’, they will find their way back to wherever their belly directs.
(this piece was first published in 2016)