BOTH before and following the historic defeat of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) at the 2015 presidential election, thousands of party members resolved to seek greener pastures with the brown broomsticks of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
In 2013, five governors under the umbrella of the n-PDP left the party for APC. And after Buhari was declared president, the wind of defection waxed even stronger as it seemed the safest protection from a looming anti-graft war.
In Jigawa state alone, 370,000 members of the PDP, including a former governor, a former minister, and 16 serving Local Government Chairmen defected to the APC in December, 2015. The PDP became so alarmed it accused the new ruling party of plotting to usher in a one-party state.
In reaction to the rising tide of defections, Goodluck Jonathan predicted that those who were leaving because the APC emerged victorious at the polls and thought they could fill their stomachs under the merger party would return to the PDP on an “empty stomach”.
“Those people running and those already cross-carpeting,” he said, “they will come back on an empty stomach because they will touch the primary members of their party, before they get to you.
“They know you are coming because you are hungry, before it will get to you the food will be gone. So let us be committed to the party, yes we will have challenges at the beginning but surely we will get to where we want to be.”
The former president’s prophecy can be said to have found fulfillment in the recent surge of cross-carpeting. On Tuesday, July 24, fourteen members of the Senate, including Dino Melaye, Rabiu Kwankwaso and others defected to other parties, mostly the PDP.
The defection bug also hit the House of Representatives on the same, seeing 37 members leave the ruling party, 33 of them joining the PDP.
Following suit are Samuel Ortom, Benue state governor; senate president Bukola Saraki; Abdulfatah Ahmed, Kwara state governor; Bolaji Abdullahi, former APC publicity secretary; Aminu Tambuwal, Sokoto state governor; 18 Sokoto lawmakers; all but one of the members of the Kwara house of assembly; among others.
Saraki, in explaining why he had to return to the PDP, said he did not experience a sense of belonging within the APC. He also complained that his people “have suffered alienation and have been treated as outsiders in their own party”.
Majority of the defectors were in the past card-carrying members of the People’s Democratic Party. Saraki was, for instance, one of 11 PDP senators who dumped the party for the APC in January, 2014.
“This action and decision are as a result of the division and factionalisation in the Peoples Democratic Party that sponsored our election into the Senate,” they had written in their letter to David Mark, then president of the Senate.
Ortom, who was Deputy Chairman of the PDP in Benue and the party’s National Auditor, had also defected to the APC in 2014, after which he went on to clinch his state’s gubernatorial seat through the party’s ticket. Tambuwal, who was then speaker of the House of Representatives, likewise declared his defection to the APC from the PDP in 2014.
The mass return of former APC members to PDP in the last few days may or may not alter the outcome of the 2019 election, but it has proved the former President Jonathan right that the 2015 defectors would return ‘home’ disappointed.