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Decamping in Nigerian Politics

A particular saying goes like this. “If you can’t beat them, join them.” That must be the inspiration behind decamping in politics, especially in Nigeria.

Decamping has existed for many years and created a wide berth between the ruling party and the masses. If the many politicians involved in this shameful scheme at least had a shred of goodwill, the nation will enjoy good governance and a sustainable democracy.

Sadly, this is not the case. And unfortunately, decamping in politics doesn’t seem to be close to ending anytime soon.

Meaning of decamping

Well, the phrase shouldn’t be too hard to comprehend. You know what a camp is. A congregation. A gathering of people with common interests, or at the very least, a common goal. Now, what happens when somebody jumps ship after a while?

Mind you, maybe this person didn’t just decide this. Maybe they’ve spent time planning and plotting their moves. They looked at the skies and the stars told them. They realized that their current ship isn’t taking them to Treasure Isla,nd so they decide to jump ship and find greener pastures.

When they commit this treason (because what else would you call it?) it is called decamping.

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Major camps in Nigerian politics

There are several political parties in Nigeria and you can read all about them here. But we have our big three, at least for the moment. These include:

PDP (People’s Democratic Party)

Founded by Iyorchia Ayu, PDP is one of the major contemporary political parties in Nigeria, and currently the oldest in existence. PDP was established in 1998 and won every presidential election between 1999 and 2011.

Alongside APC, these two parties have the most seats in National Assembly. Samuel Anyanwu is the Secretary.

APC (All Progressive’s Congress)

A merger of ANPP (All Nigeria Peoples Party), CPC (Congress for Progressive Change), and ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria) led to the creation of APC in 2013. APC’s main political support comes from southwestern Nigeria (dominated by the Yoruba) and Northern Nigeria (dominated by the Hausa-Fulani).

Abdullahi Adamu is the chairperson of APC, and Iyanu Omisore is the Secretary. President Muhammadu Buhari was re-elected in the 2019 general election under APC.

LP (Labour Party)

The Labour Party was created in 2002 as PSD (Party for Social Democracy). Its membership and support increased drastically in 2022 due the former governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi joining the party shortly after quitting PDP to run for the 2023 Nigerian presidential election.

Off these three political camps, many politicians have developed the habit of jumping ship for one reason or another. Whether they do it for personal or general gain should be no argument. If you’re jobless right now, then you know firsthand that they care more about their interests and not you.

Well, some of them anyway. There are those who do quit for valid and humane reasons. Like when they see that their political party isn’t putting the interests of their people at heart. I won’t mention names only because I am very sure you know exactly who I’m referring to.

Related: Rigging Elections in Nigeria: A Political Masterclass

History of decamping in Nigeria’s politics

Check out this little excerpt from one of our valid sources. You need to know how far back this thing goes.

“Nigerian politics and politicians are flexible. As such, decamping, cross carpeting, sitting on the fence and sentiments constitutes the features of our present-day politicians. With the inception of democratic rule in 1999, so many politicians decamped in high numbers before the 2003 elections from AD to PDP, and majority of them are legislators at the national assembly. Late Alhaji Mala Kachalla, the former governor of Borno state, also decamped from ANPP to AD.

“Governors Jonah Jang, Murtala Nyako, Magatakarda Wammako, Aliyu Akwe Doma, and Saidu Dakingari are all former gubernatorial candidates of ANPP or card-carrying members. However, after their decamping to PDP they achieved their ambitions of becoming respective governors of their states.

Also, Governor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi state decamped from PDP to ANPP, Governor Theodore Orji of Abia state decamped from PDP to PPA and Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state from AD to AC. While former Governors Attahiru Dalhatu Bafarawa decamped from ANPP to DPP, Orji Uzo Kalu from PDP to PPA and Bola Tinubu from AD to AC. And even the former Vice President, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, decamped from PDP to AC to contest for 2007 presidential elections.

“Decamping is not a big deal in the present Nigerian politics especially since the parties have no ideological bases as such politicians will continue to decamp as they continue to find suitable platforms to pursue their political ambitions. And decamping in Nigeria becomes necessary to politicians if they feel that their party is going contrary to what they stand for or their party has treated them unfairly, which is the norm with most parties during primary elections as they are not free and fair.”

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Effects of decamping on politics

Our law says the process of decamping in politics is unconstitutional. Unconstitutional, by extension, means illegal. But will you ever see the perpetrators being brought to book? No, which leaves no one else but the masses to suffer the blight.

Besides, when a politician jumps ship, they rarely do so alone. If they happen to be an influential person, they move with a legion of followers, which might include officials of the current party. This can be disastrous for the affected party. Politicians like to decamp often during an election period and it destabilizes them.

Another effect of decamping in politics is the lack of credibility it attaches to one’s persona, especially when they have a knack for always doing it.

Related: The Rash Called Political Thugs in Nigeria

A Final Word From Battabox

In summary, decamping is a very ugly, Nigerian political culture that does lots of harm and very little good. It is not right, doesn’t deepen our democracy, and doesn’t speak well of our democratic culture. it is just an ugly truth that we have to live with because no solution lies on the horizon.

If you have any comments, let us know below.

Daniel Maxwell
Daniel Maxwellhttps://www.d-pari.com
Journalist. Researcher. Writer