POLITICS – At recent rallies of Nigeria’s ruling All Progressives Congress for next year’s general elections, the list of speakers is often dominated by former members of the opposition People’s Democratic Party who switched sides.
Former ministers, two-term governors and other senior officials who served with the PDP during its 16-year rule take turns to denounce the “corruption and waste” of their erstwhile party while touting the virtues of President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling APC.
It’s an illustration of the state of Nigerian politics, where parties are merely a means to power and wealth, with actors propelled neither by ideology nor principle. Known locally as “cash-and-carry politics,” success is often measured by gaining access to the treasury and dispensing patronage. Fueled by the country’s oil wealth over the past 50 years, the presidency is the supreme prize.
“It’s a capture of state power for personal use rather than service to the people,” said Clement Nwankwo, executive director of Abuja-based Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre, who has monitored all Nigerian elections since the end of military rule in 1999. “When a chosen party is not delivering on those objectives, the average politician will look for what else could be the platform to achieve that.”