What is peculiar to Nigerian politics at the close of electioneering is defection – either from politicians who have been longed for by the opposition or are desperate of crossing to secure electoral ticket that may be unsure from the emigrating party.
This defection is usually heralded by intriguing dramas that disrupt political permutation and one favorite line at the times of transitions is such as ‘a return to home’.
Recently, two of Nigeria’s thirty-six states decided at the polls on their next-in-four-year governors and there’s already a roving rumor regarding the party switch of a staunch People’s Democratic Party member and ex-president of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
He is being rumored for such tendency in spite of an alleged role in the election of the All Progressives’ Congress, APC’s David Lyon as the Governor-elect of Bayelsa state.
But, while this is still unconfirmed, here are some political juggernauts who made such decisions around the 2019 general election.
Shehu Sani, Nigeria’s eloquent activist, and lawmaker
Shehu Sani, an immediate past member of the Nigerian Senate amazingly demonstrated autonomy in the decision-making of party transition. He chose to run his race alone.
Despite his recurring fallouts with the Kaduna state governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, that was equally a member of the same APC, his transition was not done in a hurry.
Not only this, he was not rushed to join the likes of his Senate colleagues who made bidding with the People’s Democratic Party. Rather, he opted for the Peoples Redemption Party.
Ever since he lost his attempt to return to the Senate under PRP, Mr. Sani’s gesture doesn’t seem like he has rested his oars on activism and may likely run for another office in the near future.
The pro-democracy activist continues to be critical of President Muhammadu Buhari-government.
Melaye: ‘the man who returned home but lost more sleep in the yard’
In his usual dramatic event, Dino Melaye returned to the PDP from APC during the preparation for the last 2019 elections.
Like Sani, he contested to return to the Senate. Although declared winner, his reelection was ripped off after the Court of Appeal ordered a rerun in a case presented by the APC’s candidate, Smart Adeyemi.
Both slugged it out again at the November 16 rerun election but the electoral umpire ruled it to be inconclusive hence the need for another. He eventually lost out on the second leg of the election.
On the sideline, Melaye is at the Tribunal at this same moment on the allegation of electoral malpractice by his opponent.
Before senatorial rerun, he had attempted to secure the party’s Kogi governorship ticket but lost.
Atiku Abubakar, the ‘friend’ of Obasanjo; pride of his party
One of the biggest returns PDP ever was Atiku.
Unlike others featured here, his return was not in 2018/2019 but was basically relevant for the presidential election. He helped the party restore bigwigs like Saraki, Melaye and even won the appeal of ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo after an age-long tussle.
Welcomed with a landslide victory in securing the PDP’s ticket to challenge APC’s President Muhammadu Buhari but still lost it.
He kicked against election results and fought it until the Supreme Court threw it out for “lacking merit.”
Omisore: the lone fighter who got both PDP and APC shivering
In Southwest, Osun and Oyo states have particularly been two states that these two political parties haunt to amass audacity for the remaining three states, aside from Lagos.
In a historic comeback, it was the same ex-governor of Osun Rauf Aregbesola, now the minister of interior who lifted the right hand of his old political enemy, Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola into APC.
The magic wand resident with APC seems to still be at work after they bought the heart of Senator Iyiola Omisore ahead of PDP.
If either of PDP or APC would win Osun in September 2018 gubernatorial poll, it became inarguable, at a point, that the support of the Social Democratic Party’s candidate, Omisore must be solicited to cart sufficient votes in the second leg of that election.
He stepped down for APC’s candidate, Gboyega Oyetola after series of separate closed-door meetings with PDP and APC.
He was last a member of PDP before crossing to SDP but his current party is still a riddle as he has been caught in several events with APC juggernauts after he worked for their emergence in Osun against the will of his own party.
Now, his relevance is still something to look out for in the coming elections for the state and the nation.
Godwill Akpabio, the nationalist!
Having spent eight years as Akwa Ibom’s governor and another term as senator under PDP, Godwill Akpabio decided to pitch his tent with APC in August 2018.
He was a great performer and ambassador of PDP in the Niger Delta region before switching to APC for ‘national interest.’
His latest loyalty with the APC paid off after he lost his reelection to the Senate in February 2019 as he was appointed to be the Minister of Niger Delta.