By Sulyman Olaiya Giwa Esq. a.k.a pentalk

We usually wake to the news that filled the air in every State of the nation the certain number of people has dumped one party for another with an official decamping ceremony being organized to welcome the decamped group of persons into the new party.

It is against this background that this piece is written by the writer who does talks through his pen with a view to discussing the appropriateness or otherwise of the ubiquitous practice of some group of persons claiming to have left a political party for another.

It is no gainsaying that many Nigerians simply because of their interest in participating in the democratic system of the country do regard themselves as members of political party of their choice without more and when they feel disappointed by that political party, the next thing they do is giving their allegiance to another political party by declaring publicly that they are dumping one political party for another political party at the time every political party has stopped registration of members and has conducted its primaries and congresses.

It is the declaration of support of some groups of people for a political party through a candidate of that party that many Nigerians regard as decamping. What then is the word ‘decamp’?

According to Cambridge English Dictionary, the word ‘Decamp’ means ‘to leave suddenly and unexpectedly, usually without telling anyone.’

Flowing from the above definition, it is crystal clear that the act of sudden leaving of any member of a political party for another political party without notice is termed ‘decamping’ in the political parlance. Who then is a member of a political party?

A close reading of constitutions of some prominent political parties in Nigeria evinced that their respective Constitutions allow any interested person to be registered as a member if the person presents himself at his ward for registration; pays the required cost for the registration and get party membership card being issued to him or her.

It is deductible from the above that for any person to be a member of any political party in Nigeria such person must have fulfilled the conditions for being a member of the political party stated in the said political party’s constitution.

It therefore needs to say that for any Nigerian to be a member of any political party, the person must have his name registered by the said political party at his ward level upon payment of the prescribed registration fees and have a membership card to be issued to him/her. At what period can a person join a political party of his choice?

Much as membership of any political party is open to every Nigerian, the time to be a member of any political party is before the conduct of party primaries and congresses and before the register of that party is submitted to Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by law.

Section 77

(2)      ‘Every registered political party shall maintain a register of its       members in both hard and soft copy.

(3)      Each political party shall make such register available to the           Commission not later than 30 days before the date fixed for the       party primaries, congresses or convention.’

It is noteworthy that the new Electoral Act under the above reproduced provisions of section 77 make it mandatory for every registered political party to make its register available to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) not less than 30 days before the date fixed for the party’s primaries, congresses or convention which the writer believes every political party has complied with. How then can any new members be admitted into any political party after the submission of its register to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC)?

One keeps wondering if those people claiming to be members of their claimed previous political party are truly members of that claimed political party with evidence as required by the party’s constitution they are dumping for the new political party.

It is a disturbing question in the writer’s mind to pose thus: ‘Can any political party admit any new member after its primaries, congresses or convention and after it has submitted its register to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by law? Or to put in another words thus: Can the political party’s register be updated to contain the new members after same has been submitted to the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) as required by law? Why are people deceiving themselves with the ubiquitous practice of claimed decamping from a political party which they never paid any sum of money to as their registration fees nor pay any dues to as financial members of that political party?

It is worth saying that being a member of a political party is not by mouth-saying but by discharging one’s membership responsibility to that party. And to be a new member of any political party transcends decamping ceremony which many groups of people are doing at the time the lifting of ban for open campaign is around the corner.

It is equally noteworthy to say that a person is not yet a member of any political party if such person does not have his/her name in a register of the said political party upon payment of registration fees or having any membership card issued to him or her.

Much as the writer is not oblivious of the fact that those people joining new political party are doing that to show their support for their chosen political party, the writer’s stand is that support is better displayed on the day of election via votes for the chosen political party and candidates to emerge victorious winners at the various elections instead of the accepted-wrong exhibition of decamping as widely celebrated by political parties. It is the best way of showing support for the chosen political party and its candidates. Doing that is better than act of declaring support at the time of kick-starting campaign via decamping which has no basis in the eye of law.

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