PDP to APC: “You Poach, We Impeach” By Ismaeel Ahmed
In 2013 when the newly formed All Progressives Congress (APC) went on a ferocious drive of recruitment , the country was amazed at the simple and common manner in which the behemoth of the ruling party was disintegrating. There was a wild jubilation from the public and a cautious optimism from other people. The APC became the new bride in town. The media, the public and the international community were in love with the promise of an alternative in a democracy. And so the attention of the members of the PDP who have had enough from a president they consider a political neophyte and a party chairman hell bent on sinking the ship was drawn to this new darling. The APC was slowly gaining momentum: It had public opinion on its side, media narrative that was positive and a potential power bloc from the youth and women.
In other words, the APC was beginning to look like the messiah many had been yearning for, in a country that has been severely dented with unsavory political parties and leaders.
Poaching was the word. The defections, cross-carpetings, decamping and all became trend shortly after. In the beginning, 7 PDP Governors had a public falling out with the president and a notorious convention walk out was staged. The heat was on and the drama started to unfold. A faction was created within the PDP, primarily to build a premise for an eventual defection. A clear and a clever strategy. The constitution did not stipulate any penalty for a defecting executive like a Governor or a president as the case may be, but it has made clear provisions against the defection of a legislator at whatever level save where there is a faction, division or a merger within the defecting party’s political party. By creating a faction within the PDP, the ball was rolled and the Governors paved way for their lawmakers to come on board with the requisite provision of the law being satisfied. We witnessed massive defection of close to 40 members of the House of Representatives from the PDP to the APC and almost a dozen senators, a move so astronomical that it almost tilted the structure of the House Leadership.
The PDP cried foul and accused the APC of poaching its members, it tried to stir the public against it by mentioning that there is no difference between them, then they sued the lawmakers that defected, then they fired their Chairman who they thought was the problem, then the president claimed he never said he was going to run or not to douse the tension, then they started going after the defected Governors, their political allies or children just to remind them on the protection they would be losing if they leave the party. Then they went after the lawmakers by instituting an action against them in court, but by law it must be proved that at the time of the defection none of the above constitutional exceptions exist I.e division or faction. The verdict on that is still out.
After suffering such massive hemorrhage the PDP knew it had its work cut out for it with so many forces against it; an angry and frustrated electorate, a disgruntled party members, a cynical media, a disturbed and worried international community, a stoic national chairman and a giant opposition breathing down its neck and picking its best fruits from the few healthy branches left. Something had to be done.
And so the PDP recalibrate and decided to turn on the offensive. It realized that it had wasted too much time criticizing those who had left and pursuing them or make them lose their seats. The strategy changed. You poached? We will also poach and cajole. So they went after the disgruntled “progressives”. Money was promised, positions were shared, tickets were promised and some were given structures in their states. For those elected officials, impeachment was the answer.
It started with Adamawa. A Governor already unpopular with the political elites of his state was an easy target especially since he has written a public letter of reproach against the style and substance of the President and with a state assembly made up of the PDP, the Governor became a sitting duck at a shooting range. They impeached him with throwing caution and even constitutional legality to the wind. A procedure that was to take months, took hours, a CJ that was supposed to be impartial became impatient, lawmakers became legally reckless. Every provision and procedure of the constitution was breached in order to achieve that aim. And so he was removed.
The guillotine was then moved to Nasarawa State. Another APC governor with a PDP Assembly, an ambitious loquacious minister, a defected Deputy Governor and a determined PDP. The noose was arranged and the PDP went to work. The APC cried foul that this wasn’t a poached Governor, but the PDP replied we know, but he will be an impeached one. The masses stood up for their Governor and the media poked holes in the arrangement. The CJ was fair and principled and alas, the charges were dismissed. And now we hear the impeachment train will also visit Edo and Imo on its way. While that is happening, the PDP has claimed Ekiti against a very prominent and admired Governor and plans to do the same in Osun against a phenomenally popular Governor.
The Nasarawa State Governor has survived his impeachment, Osun will likely be won by APC and Oyinlola, a former PDP National Secretary was once again poached. The game is repeating itself less than 7 months to elections…there will be more interesting scenarios ahead.
Bottom Line: there is a clear unconstitutionality and immorality in many ways adopted by the parties to gain political and structural advantages, but then the drafters of the constitution presumed that the operators will be “honorable and reasonable” people, how wrong they were.
You poach, we impeach will continue until the system reaches an equilibrium status where none of the above phrases will be necessary.
Barr. Ismaeel Ahmed holds a Law Degree (LL.B) from University of Abuja, a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations and Diplomacy from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.
Ahmed also holds a Masters of Law (LLM) from the University of Chicago, USA. He is a lawyer and a politician. He is currently the chairman of the All Progressives Youth Forum (APYF), a Youth body under the APC.
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