Political parties organize the terms of elite competition, and thus offer and defend alternative choices to voting citizens.
Similarly, competition among political actors is only meaningful when it is aimed towards party institutionalization which is a function of organizational loyalty.
Multiparty democracies need multiple parties, where one serves as an alternative to the others. Unfortunately, third World countries such as Nigeria face a major and persistent problem: incessant decamping among elected political actors and aspirant candidates which tend to impede democratic consolidation. Defection, party switching, party-hopping, decamping, is a situation where politicians cross from one political party to the other due to myriad of reasons such as personality clashes, disaffection, disgruntlement, power tussles, crisis or division within a given party mostly due to fraudulent party primaries, disagreement on party’s position on an issue, realization of one’s personal political ambition, and divergent views on the operations of a political party’s philosophy or ideology.
Decamping has become an undying attribute of party politics in the present democratic dispensation and has become frequent especially before and after election periods.
Max Weber defines political parties as contending groups that struggle for political control. Similarly, a political party is supposed to be an organized group of people with similar political aims and opinions working together to seek to influence public opinion by getting its candidates elected to public office.
Edmund Burke defines a political party ‘‘as a body of men, united, for promoting their joint endeavours and interests upon some particular principles in which they are all agreed”. This definition better resonates with me.
Different reasons have been advanced for the occurrence and prevalence of decamping in Nigerian politics, one reason is the nature of party formation. Party formation is often driven by political careerism rather than ideology. The role of ideology in party formation and competition tends to be weak in our Nigerian democracy. Personal ambition, vested interests and aggrandisement, as opposed to service to the people, tend to drive political parties.
Thus, recently, after frustratingly trying to help resolve issues emanating from our last party primaries, and due to a sense of dissatisfaction with the choice of candidates thrown up by the major political
Parties across board to represent Owerri federal constituency, i decided to present myself as an alternative, an extra choice via another political platform namely the Action Alliance. I made inroads into the party less than a month after the party primaries when it became obvious that my party was headed into a protracted knotty crisis.
My interest all the while was service to the good people of Owerri federal constituency. I was dissatisfied with the criteria and processes that led to the selection of candidates for positions in the constituency. When i became aware that boardroom choices had been made, i tactically withdrew from the contest.
The non official party structure as presently constituted which excludes the state party exco had no defined process of selecting candidates for positions other than favouritism, and selection based loyalty to leaders and not to the party. Corruption of delegates did not help matters.
The state exco, despite intense sensitisation on the need for free and fair primaries and the long suffering electorate public had no say in the selection process, as the choices were made for us on the basis of a line up of loyalists and favoured candidates of the national chapters anointed leader of the state party chapter. Intimidation of the state exco and corrupt favouritism on the part of the National party headquarters primaries committee and the appeal panel were rife. The matter is in court and the rest is history
If we want the best for our constituency, we must shun zombie like gullible following of our ideologically bereft political parties and shop for competent candidates across board and I speak for scores of voiceless Owerri voters who had complained ceaselessly and spurred me on to take my next course of action which might be distasteful to some.
At the time of my incursion into the AA, and as I was made to understand at the time, the party had nothing to do with Gov Rochas Okorocha and his crew even though he formed the party. Subsequent events that led to us finding ourselves running under the same platform were beyond my control. No big deal.
If we are all objective and discerning enough to look beyond partisanship in our search for more competent candidates to steer our constituency, this should not be a problem, as you can vote for whoever you want, whichever platform they are running under.
I believe i’m a good capable, competent, passionate and intelligent material for our Federal House of Representatives seat, and ndi Owerri who prefer my candidacy can easily find me to vote for as my platform is one of the first 2 political parties on the ballot paper. Very soon, my campaign organisation will embark on campaigns to sensitise the public about my candidacy and manifesto.
May God bless us all
Chima “Oblong” Nnadi-Oforgu
HAZIE OWERRI CAMPAIGN ORGANISATION.