By Emeka Chiakwelu
First and foremost, former Governor Obi is has the right and privilege as a citizen of Federal Republic of Nigeria to switch to another party and associate with any organization or entity provided that he is not violating the constitutional law of the land.
There is no doubt that Obi is a strategist, realist and pragmatist. He knows when to stay put, when to go along and when to let go. In the lyrics of the song ? ?Gambler? by Kenny Rogers: “If you’re gonna play the game, boy. You gotta learn to play it right. You’ve got to know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.? Surely, Obi is ingenious master of Nigerian politics.
When he deflected from his former party APGA to the ruling national party PDP, most people were not puzzled or surprised because it was anticipated for the writing was on the wall. Obi?s long time association with
President Jonathan and public kinship with PDP were testaments that buttressed his affinity for PDP.
But there are still adamant few and some true believers in APGA that never expected his swerved to PDP. Those are the sentimental, emotional and ardent ones that do not comprehend the concept of a political party and true meaning of politics.
Politics is about interest ? a commonality with collective vision and ideology. This implies that in a free society with embedded ability of free association in which Nigeria is supposedly orbiting, every citizen is entitle to free Association and free assembly which are the centrality of democracy. Therefore Obi throwing his cap for PDP must be organically accepted.
APGA is more or less a one party state and for an ambitious politician with a national outlook, the party is quite limiting. This by no means makes APGA a less desirable entity or takes anything away from its functionality. What it really means that it much difficult to be elected in a national position with considerable national implications. Therefore Obi decision was rooted on prudency and effective calculus that can potentially open a door to a national ambition.
When The Great Ikemba Ojukwu came back from exile, he was expected to join Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe?s Nigerian Peoples Party (NPP) but he by-passed it for a party with a national disposition and joined National Party of Nigeria,
NPN. Despite the attraction of NPP, Ojukwu knew that he can make his greatest impact with a national party. While it was difficult to say no to the greatest Nigerian politician and patriot Rt. Honorable Zik of Africa, the only true national leader Nigeria has ever produced, notwithstanding, Ojukwu planted his flag with NPN.
In United States of America switching party as they called it, is quite common and ubiquitous. Ronald Regan, Hillary Clintons and many others did it.
?Ronald Reagan. Reagan was also originally a Democrat and a New Deal supporter, who became a union leader while in Hollywood. He switched parties officially in 1962 and gave a famous quote: ?I didn?t leave the Democratic Party. The party left me.?
Hillary Clinton. In 1964, a very young Hillary Rodham Clinton was one of the Goldwater Girls who campaigned for the Arizona Republican. She officially became a Democrat later in the 1960s after she attended the 1968 GOP convention.? (NCC).
Changing party or switching party is a bellwether that democracy is active and functional. When a party member feels that the party?s dialogue and philosophy have become contrary to his perspective and dispositions, he
has the constitutional right to move on and identify with those he chose to be called political comrades. And such a development is healthy for the country?s polity, provided no law of the land was breached or compromised.
?There are a number of reasons that an elected official, or someone seeking office, might choose to switch parties. One reason is ethical obligation: the person has views are no longer aligned with those of the current party.
A second reason is to gain powers and influences. The incumbent may be a member of the minority party in a legislature and would like to gain the advantages of being in the majority party, such as the potential to chair
a committee. A disaffected incumbent who might not hold a leadership position or feels ignored or mistreated by the majority party might join the minority party with the expectation of holding a leadership position in the minority party and if currently elected, having the complete support of the minority party for re-election, who would certainly want to have more elected officials in their ranks.? (Wikipedia).
In case for Obi he is not currently holding any elected office, therefore his departure maybe to seek national contacts that may enable him to run for the office of presidency after President Jonathan ends his second term
in 2019. This is all speculation for it is only Obi that knows why he chose to join the PDP.
This point must be clearly driven home; Peter Obi is not a property of any ethnic group or political party in Nigeria. He is a citizen and politician; therefore he is entitled to make his choices be it political, economic or otherwise. But whatever the case might be, Obi has made his decision and politics will never remain same.
Emeka Chiakwelu, Principal Policy Strategist at AFRIPOL. His works have appeared in Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, Forbes and many other important journals around the world. His writings have also been cited in
many economic books, publications and many institutions of higher learning including tagteam Harvard Education. Africa Political & Economic Strategic Center (AFRIPOL) is foremost a public policy center whose fundamental
objective is to broaden the parameters of public policy debates in Africa. To advocate, promote and encourage free enterprise, democracy, sustainable green environment, human rights, conflict resolutions, transparency and
probity in Africa.
[email protected] www.afripol.org