I do have nothing against the man Atiku Abubakar—as he switches political parties as a diaper. Politicians all over the world are fond of switching political parties to achieve their political dreams and aspirations. Even in the United States of America, politicians do switch political parties, so vilifying Atiku for returning to the party he once called “irredeemable” four (4) years ago will certainly endear him some more to the hearts of those who are sick and tired of the current administration as it endeared President Buhari to the hearts of those who grew tired of the administration of Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan when he was paddling the canoe of Nigeria.
Those who are castigating Atiku for returning to the political party that made him who he is today are only making him to become larger than he is. “Turaki of Adamawa” cannot survive outside the pool of the PDP as a fish cannot survive outside of water. Am I saying that the APC is different from the PDP ideologically? No! They are all the same. Nigeria is a nameless-one-party political party. In a nation where governance is for money making, then every political party is the same—within the context of ideology. The APC is not different from the PDP in terms of ideology!
Going down memory lane, it is not uncommon for politicians in the U.S to switch party affiliations. Many of their best Americans leaders and legislators have done so. While some well-known politicians switched parties in early adulthood, other American leaders have defected from one side of the aisle to the other while serving in office. In some ways, America politics is a study in contradictions: Americans view bipartisanship and independence as virtues, and yet, Americans also value party loyalty and political consistency. How do I mean?
One, Hillary Clinton grew up in Chicago, where she was raised in a politically conservative household. Clinton was already politically active at a relatively young age; as a teenager in 1964, she campaigned for Republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater. As a college student, she even served as president of Wellesley’s Young Republicans Club and attended the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami. Clinton’s views had evolved by the time she graduated from Wellesley. She switched her party affiliation and registered as a Democrat, a party to which she’s been loyal ever since.
Two, two years after finishing his second term as U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt announced his plans to run for President again, for a third term, in 1911. Roosevelt’s best-laid plans went astray, however, when William Howard Taft secured the Republican nomination. Determined to run in the election, Roosevelt formed the Progressive “Bull Moose” Party. Although he eventually lost the election to Woodrow Wilson, Roosevelt’s third-party campaigned siphoned a number of his liberal supporters away from the Republican Party. Some historians contend that this had the unintended effect of making the GOP more conservative in the years that followed.
That said, switching political parties is not a big deal, but what I see that is worrisome is where Alhaji Atiku Abubakar returned to. Four (4) years ago, Atiku said and I quote verbatim: “…We have, therefore, concluded that that party cannot be redeemed. The PDP has abandoned Nigerians, the very people who gave it life and many electoral victories.” Also, this is what he said about his divorced wife, the APC: “…I have, therefore, decided to cast my lot with the APC, a party of change committed to the improvement of the lives of our people and to the continued existence and development of Nigeria…” Weaving the two together, one, I clearly see a man who is under pressure to become the president of Nigeria. Two, how can he tell us that a political party was irredeemable four years ago and he is back now saying something different? Three, how can he tell us that a political party was committed to change and he is back now telling us that the fad has changed? How consistent is Alhaji Atiku Abubakar?
I do have a lot of respect for Turaki of Adamawa, but how does he want the upward thinking populace of Nigeria to follow him to an “irredeemable” political party? In the same vein, how can an “irredeemable” political party deliver the Nigeria of our dreams? I advice Alhaji Abubakar to go start a new political party as Roosevelt of this world started a new political party in order to realize his third-term political dream. Returning to a political party that you once labeled irredeemable says a lot about your values. You do not have to return to the PDP to serve Nigeria at the highest level.
One lesson that stands out of the political sojourn of Alhaji Atiku in the dusty streets of our nation—for every politician of the future—is that while they are switching political parties, they should carefully watch what they say whilst they are under pressure. In the days to come, they may need to return to their former wives, political parties. Do not destroy with your mouth, the house that once gave you shelter, because you may need to return to the same house for the same purpose in the days to come. The problem I (and other teeming well meaning Nigerians) am having with Atiku Abubakar is not that he is switching political parties, but the problem we are having with him is that he is embracing what he once condemned. And in leadership, that’s a red flag to charily and circumspectly circumvent!