Let’s take a trip to a brand new dictionary, and make a stop at a newly-minted word called “Jumpology”. It is a combination of “jump”, as in monkeys jumping from one tree to the other, and “ology” which translates to the knowledge or study of any subject, but in the current aspect, the study of the jumping act. The issue concerns Nigerian politics where ill-assorted politicians jump from one political party to the other without any regards whatsoever to principle or ideology or party manifesto.
In the olden days, the act used to be called carpet-crossing, but our politicians of today no longer merely cross the carpet; they jump, whence the advent of “Jumpology”. The fastness with which our politicians jump back and forth between the alphabet soup of APC and PDP in the country will surprise many monkeys. It is my patriotic opinion that humans who can beat monkeys in the fastness of the jump demand consummate attention, and that is why I am writing this humble article.
It is a matter of giddy celebration in the Change regime of the APC that the act of Jumpology by five PDP Governors aided the capture of power of the ruling party of the day. This act of political prostitution alias Jumpology has since been canonized given that the camp of the political prostitutes is laying solid claims of fighting corruption. So many stalwarts of the defeated PDP have since jumped into the APC fold that there are genuine fears that Nigeria may soon turn into a one-party state with a sole administrator in absolute charge of affairs. No less a personage than the former Honourable Speaker of the House of Representatives, Alhaji Aminu Tambuwal, now Sokoto State Governor, gave political jumpology its greatest leap when he wangled the ultimate jump from the then ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP) into the then wannabe All Progressives Congress (APC). The rest, as they say, is history for Tambuwal went a long way to help his new APC camp to capture national power.
The catch however is that his jumping act continued even within his new party as he eventually upstaged the APC in the choice of National Assembly leaders by jumping back into a very unholy romance with his erstwhile party PDP. Once a political jumpologist, always a political jumpologist! A monkey does not only jump from tree to tree but can equally jump from branch to branch of one tree. The case of Tambuwal is not unlike the street lingo of “Fanta face and Coca-cola body” or to put it more explicitly: “APC face, PDP body.”
The confusion is yet to clear amongst Nigerian politicos across the divides of the country about who did what in the aboriginal September 24, 1951 election into the Western House of Assembly between Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe’s NCNC and Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Group, for it was that far back that the controversy of carpet-crossing earned its spot in our history.
After many botched republics, military dictatorships, interim national governments, nascent democracies etc, Nigerian politicians have graduated from the lowly arts of carpet-crossing into the high science of “Jumpology.” The role of the military in the jumping feats of the politicians must be understood in our national narrative of very unstable politicians. My guru, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti that is, made the song “Army Arrangement” as a pointer to the reality that what passes for democracy here is almost always jump-started with the kick of military boots. Military subordination to civil authority which ought to in fine define democracy has been subverted to read as civil subordination to military machinations.
The politicians must perforce read the body language of the military goons and jump in obedience to the coded orders. For instance, when the coup that ended the Second Republic happened in the wee hours of the last day of 1983, Kole Omotoso wrote in his book Just Before Dawn that the irrepressible politician SG Ikoku, who had then jumped into the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN), told his wife not to lose any sleep as there was in reality no coup. It was simply a case of the military wing of the NPN taking over from their wobbling civilian counterparts! The then powerful Umaru Dikko escaped to London to declare that the military took over because of annoyance that their civilian counterparts had paved the way to handing over power to then Vice-President Dr Alex Ekwueme.
The “North-South-Igbo-Biafra” spectre unleashed by Umaru Dikko was very unsettling in higher quarters. The military authorities crated Umaru Dikko in London in the bid to bring him back to Nigeria as human cargo to make the necessary explanations – from power shift to rice racketeering – but the crating gambit failed woefully! The military kept on with their legerdemain over the years until the catastrophic annulment of the June 12, 1993 elections won by Chief MKO Abiola. In disgracing itself out of power, the military jumped into murkier waters by manufacturing the Chief Ernest Shonekan interim contraption and staking the General Sani Abacha pariah regime. The civil rule that was eventually birthed out of the detritus bore the jumping boots of the military in the personage of none other than General Olusegun Obasanjo. Remarkably, Ekwueme’s name came into the power equation once more.
Alhaji Bamanga Tukur told my friend Karl Maier, author of the book, This House Has Fallen: Midnight In Nigeria, that Ekwueme was like a limousine driver while Obasanjo was a truck-driver which was what Nigeria needed! Hurricane Obasanjo, like all truckdrivers to their conductors, made most politicians jump in trepidation and intimidation.
His Vice-President Atiku Abubakar chiefly bore the brunt of Obasanjo’s overweening dominance in the later years of their presidency, culminating in Atiku playing a pivotal role in thwarting Obasanjo’s Third Term ambition. The price Atiku had to pay alongside other politicians who opposed Obasanjo lay in being harassed out of the ruling PDP in a clearly forced case of political jumpology.
The politicians have since been jumping from party to party in search for relevance. For instance, Atiku’s roll-call of parties ever since could well accommodate all the letters of the English alphabet thus: Alhaji Atiku Abubakar: PDP, AC, ACN, PDM, APC, etc. What started out as spittle has turned into tidal wave, as politicians of lesser stature have since fully embraced the “jumpology” ethic, jumping from party to party in the wild embrace of the canonization of political prostitution.
The then Senate Leader Victor Ndoma Egba once offered an apologia that the PDP is like the Catholic Church which people can quit at anytime only to come back at a later time. The one difference, though, between the PDP and the Catholic Church is that the poor Pontiff, Pope Francis that is, does not lead anybody to swear to an oath of allegiance at the Okija Shrine!
For now, the APC is the real Mc- Coy in the political jumpology game. Every Okafor, Otunba, Gambari, or Nengiowei is jumping into the APC. For instance, literally all the former big PDP stalwarts from former President Goodluck Jonathan’s Bayelsa State have jumped into the APC to contest the forthcoming governorship elections. Even in Kogi State where the APC ought to be in gubernatorial opposition, the party now boasts of more governorship candidates than can be counted by a poor mathematician like me. The canonization of political prostitution known as Jumpology has come to stay.
-UZOR MAXIM UZOATU e-mail: email@example.com