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Jumping frogs never cease to amaze me. My first experience with them was in the compound of our village family house.
Beneath our Mango tree, a brown-headed frog took shelter. I saw it jump over to the nearby pond whenever a rustling sound came from the tree.
And when pond crickets began to chirp, the frog leapt to the bare soil. Then back to the tree as disturbance set in.
This loop continued for minutes, and I watched keenly, pondering on what went on in the frog’s mind. I tried to imagine the frog’s hormones firing up every now and then, and propelling it for its next jump destination.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the frog. Thinking about political life and the frog. Thinking about the undeniable connection between the frog’s activities and Nigerian politicians.
At first, it seemed fuzzy. It was as though I was forcing an analogy out of nowhere, as though my mid-life crisis had dumped me into a weave of jumbled thoughts. But I was wrong.
The relationship was crystal clear. I was fazed at the vivid metaphor put forth by the jumping frog. And the message hit me at once: cross-carpeting. Political cross-carpeting.
So, what do we mean by political cross-carpeting?
We’ve all heard, on the television, newspaper, or even internet, that a high political figure changed parties. “Decampment”, they call it. Yes, that’s cross-carpeting.
We’ve probably heard a myriad of cases for us to be disinterested about it. From Bukola Saraki’s two-time streak (PDP to APC and back to PDP) to Atiku’s power U-turn ( PDP to ACN to PDP to APC to PDP). The latter is not even ordinary.
That’s a record-breaker. He’s like the Usain Bolt of political parties, the Michael Phelps of Nigerian democracy, breaking record after record. The latest one is of the former speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, moving from APC to PDP to APC.
These cases might seem problematic, and even disturbing. We might tend to blame them, to call them names and label them “disloyal”.
But is it entirely their fault that they decamp whenever they feel? Just like the jumping frog, I’d argue that the problem lies deep down in Nigeria’s political environs.
According to Rusell in “The Political Theory of Parties and Partisanship”, a political party is a group of people who have a common ideology.
The focus here is the ideology. In Nigeria today, the existence of parties devoid of party ideology has resulted in uncertainty and conflict of
The interest of party members. But really, do Nigerian political parties have clear cut ideologies, apart from the rumble of manifestoes they read from scrolls during election campaigns.
Are the “broom” and “umbrella” simply political avatars or do they actually serve to promote a common identity? Similar to the frog whose main goal is unclear, the politicians would be urged to jump from party to another, in search of comfort and nothing else.
Moreover, the system is awash with so-called politicians who are “entrepreneurs” and hedonists in search of their egoistic interests.
They would hold on to power at all cost, even if it means switching parties like a chameleon changes colour. The issue is accountability. No one accounts for these decamped members after they might have dumped their previous parties.
I remember APC’s chairman re-assuring Akpabio that his sins are forgiven once he switches to their party. This is a case of utmost irresponsibility and what do you expect from a democracy that runs on statements like that: More and more cross-carpeting.
Like the frog who would move to any area that ensured security, political party members would find themselves in a loop of switching parties.
Sometimes, I wonder what would happen if Buhari just woke up on the wrong side of the bed and said he wanted to switch to PDP. Crazy right? I mean, the former Senate President did it, so why can’t the President? Even though Bukola Saraki’s decampment came before his election in the Senate, who knows? Nigeria is full of wonders.
Well, we might ask what harm it does to people to switch parties like kangaroos on a run. “It is harmless”, some might say. Stability in any organization is crucial for its advancement. More so, a political party elected by the people creates utter confusion during elections.
In a survey by Badejo (2015), seventy per cent of participants agreed that cross-carpeting is responsible for “void votes”. Who do you vote for: the person or party? Even I am baffled.
Do I vote for a person that has no integrity or political capability due to his political party (incumbency) which I support? Or should I just focus on honest people and vote no matter the political party they belong.
This common dilemma has resulted in wrong and sometimes puzzling choices for electorates. The adverse effects of this are heightened by decampments and cross-carpeting.
Furthermore, Nigeria has a pretty young democracy. Since its inception in 1999, our democracy has been met with various challenges, some we manage and others we neglect, which grow into huge problems deem uncontainable.
It is crucial we address these issues before they gyrate into bigger unsolvable, unforgivable ones.
I hope, unlike the jumping frog, politicians can learn to stay for the greater good, and not just for selfish reasons.
Written by:- Yusuf Abdulmueez
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