2015 Elections: Top Ten Political Gladiators Who Have Defected to the PDP

The chameleon does not have as many cloaks as some Nigerian politicians who change loyalty and bed mates for very flimsy reasons, at times. Defection is undoubtedly part the game of politics.

Politicians move to parties where their interests are best served and where their ambitions can fully be realised.

The ruling party, the People’s Democratic Party, PDP, remains the party to beat, as more political bigwigs continue to make the calculations and conclude that to join the bandwagon would keep them in the mainstream of power. Many of such political bigwigs have only recently defected to the PDP.

Goal Dig highlights the top ten defectors whose additions will no doubt be a big advantage for the PDP.

1. Otunba Gbenga Daniel

You simply can’t forget Gbenga Daniel that soon.

That businessman who stormed Ogun politics in the early 2000s and seemingly from nowhere defeated the incumbent governor, recording the widest margin ever in any Ogun state gubernatorial race. His revolutionary strategies coupled with the backing of the ruling PDP unseated illustrious Ogun son, Olusegun Osoba.

As Ogun state’s governor for eight years, Daniel became the state’s longest serving governor and one of PDP’s brightest shining lights in the South West.

But while in power, Daniel stepped on bigger toes and watched the PDP degenerate into crises, crises that would eventually lead the party to lose the Governor’s seat to the opposition.

He subsequently defected to the Labour Party LP.

Ahead of the 2015 elections though, Gbenga Daniel is back where he belonged and has immediately asked for ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo’s forgiveness. A step in the winning direction?

2. Peter Obi

If there’s anyone who hated the PDP as much as General Muhammad Buhari – if not more – he should be Peter Obi.

The PDP has been the ugliest nightmare in the haunted political history of the former Anambra state governor.

In 2003, Peter Obi contested the guber elections on the APGA platform but PDP’s Chris Ngige was declared winner by INEC.  But the University of Nigeria Nsukka alumnus challenged the result in court and after three years of a bitter legal battle, he was declared the winner and he moved to the Government House to begin his four-year tenure.

Barely seven months after taking office, Gov Peter Obi was impeached and replaced by a PDP-dominated state assembly. Again he headed for the courts and his impeachment was overturned.  He was soon rigged out of office and had to rely on the Judiciary again to reclaim his mandate.

After successfully weathering the PDP storm, he completed his second term and handed the barton over to another APGA man.

So it is quite surprising that he has decided for the PDP. His defection to the PDP to “fully support President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan’s re-election bid” would see him now lie on the same bed with his former foes.


3. Tom Ikimi

If you think at 70 that Tom Ikimi is too old to play politics, think again.

The former foreign affairs minister has had a rich history of defections and if death permits, this won’t be his last. Starting out the Fourth Republic as a foundation member of the All People’s Party (APP) in 1999, Ikimi accepted to join the ruling PDP on invitation.

He then left the PDP in 2005 and joined others in forming the Advanced Congress of Democrats ACD, which later transformed to the Action Congress AC. His defection was key to AC’s victory in the 2007 Edo guber elections.

After coordinating the merger of CAN, APC and CPC to form All People’s Congress (APC) in 2013, Tom Ikimi expected to be made the National Chairman of the new party. He grew furious when he was overlooked for the role.

In August 2014, he quit the APC. A few weeks later, Ikimi re-joined the PDP.

4. Mallam Nuhu Ribadu

Mallam Ribadu sprang to the public’s consciousness when then president Olusegun Obasanjo made the young cop the pioneer Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.

He became the most feared police officer in the land, even to his bosses in the force. It was his EFCC who convicted Police Chief Tafa Balogun and made him return £150 million under a plea bargain. Ribadu’s reputation as an anti-corruption crusader grew worldwide.

And just before Obasanjo left office, he promoted Ribadu in recognition of his efforts. But the new PDP government reversed the decision, demoted Ribadu and humiliated him publicly.

The shame compelled Mallam Ribadu to pull off his police uniforms and put on a politician’s robe. He became the presidential candidate of the Action Congress of Nigerian in the 2011 general elections, which he lost.

Now old wounds have healed and past sins are forgiven as Mallam Nuhu Ribadu makes his grand entry back to the People’s Democratic Party.

5. Chief Achike Udenwa

Achike Udenwa has always been a PDP man and not many people have enjoyed the dividends of democracy as much as him, no small thanks to the PDP.

Udenwa rode the PDP horse into the Imo State Government House and he went on to spend an uninterrupted eight years in power. Almost immediately after leaving office, he moved to Abuja where he was made Minister of Commerce, a position he held till 2010.

The political tides changed swiftly thereafter and, feeling aggrieved, Udenwa left his friends to team up with his former foes in ACN.

He contested to be a senator but he lost. He then gave his support to APGA’s Rochas Okorocha who went on to win the 2011 guber polls.

After playing a part in giving birth to APC, he was angered by some party decisions, so he opted out.

The PDP beckoned and he gladly returned ‘home’ with an unequivocal promise to flush out Okorocha from power come 2015.  

6. Buba Marwa

There are a few principled Nigerians respected across the length and breadth of this great country, irrespective of race or religion – and Brig Gen (Rtd) Buba Marwa is certainly one of them.

The former military administrator of Borno and Lagos states was a one-time PDP presidential hopeful. He changed focus and decided to govern his state first before taking another bite at the presidency.

But when he failed to win the party’s ticket from the incumbent governor, Marwa switched to the Congress for Progressive Change, CPC. As the 2011 CPC guber candidate, he contested against Murtala Nyako and lost.

In the season of mergers, he played a key role in the formation of the APC and was expected to be a high ranking party chieftain.

But Nyako’s relationship with the PDP deteriorated and the Adamawa state governor joined the APC a few weeks before he was impeached. Consequently, the APC handed Nyako control of the party in the state.

This was never going to sit down well with Buba Marwa who could not bear to share the same wife with Nyako.

So he did the next fanciful thing, dropped the broom and got under the umbrella.

7. Ali Modu Sheriff

It was hard to even picture Ali Modu Sheriff teaming up with the PDP a short while ago. He was one of the few who had a history of standing up against the PDP and winning each time.

First as a Senator and later as a two-time Governor of Borno state. He was undoubtedly one of the ANPP’s finest field generals.

Despite being accused of being a Boko Haram sympathizer and sponsor, he was a key player as the much publicised merger of several political parties birthed the APC and he was part of the group that wanted Tom Ikimi as APC chairman.

Things got bad when he voiced out his concerns on why a party leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, would single-handedly force Chief Oyegun on the party as chairman.

Matters reached boiling point and at one meeting, Senator Sheriff nearly punched Asiwaju Tinubu on the face.

Anyone could continue in a ‘sinking ship’ but not Ali Modu Sheriff. The following week, he picked up the membership form of the PDP.

8. Ibrahim Shekarau 

You had to be a political gladiator to be able to unseat an incumbent governor of the ruling PDP in – of all places – Kano state. But ANPP’s Ibrahim Shekarau did just that with a few to spare in his engine.

Even more, he kept Kano strong man Rabiu Musa Kwakwanso out of the State House for eight years. To really hammer home his relevance, Shekarau was chosen as the ANPP’s presidential candidate in 2011 and he nearly caused an upset.

He was certainly one of the major backers and founding members of the APC. But when all lobbying had settled and the political food served, Shekarau realised that he had been short-changed.

That was not part of the merger agreement and definitely not an insult he could stomach. The PDP wooed him with a better offer, one he could not let pass.  

9. Attahiru Bafarawa

Attahiru Bafarawa had never been in the PDP good books. The PDP loathed him for shutting them out of the Sokoto state Government House for eight long years between 1999 and 2007.

After Attahiru founded the Democratic People’s Party and became its presidential candidate ahead of the 2007 elections, the PDP saw the governor as a direct threat to the federal government.

When his presidential ambitions failed, the new PDP government in his state began a witch hunt for his head, levelling several corruption charges against him.

At a point Bafarawa  screamed out that the PDP wanted him dead.

It seemed Bafarawa and the PDP were two immiscible liquids. But, as they say, in politics there are no eternal enemies and no permanent pals.

After the APC was born, Bafarawa became its Sokoto state leader. That was only until PDP’s Governor Aliyu Wamakko switched allegiance to the APC and instantly got enthroned as the party leader in the state.

Attahiru Bafarawa got offended, swallowed his bed side ego and pitched his tent with his long time nemesis, the PDP.

10. Olusegun Mimiko

Comrade Olusegun Mimiko was originally a member of the PDP but when the party refused to break protocol and insisted on allowing Gov Olusegun Agagu a second term in office, Mimiko cross-carpetted  to the Labour Party.

There he contested against Agagu for the Ondo state top job, displaced the PDP governor and became the only Labour Party governor in Nigeria.

A visionary, great leader and one loved by his people, the LP man became the toast of all in town. After a period of sustained pressure and political mergers, it seemed the APC had finally won Mimiko’s heart.

But unexpected things do happen, especially in politics.

And on the second day of October 2014, Olusegun Mimiko officially declared for the PDP alongside all members of the state house of assembly and two of the three National Assembly members.

Even the presidency recognised it as an important step forward for the PDP and a grand ceremony was organised to welcome Mimiko.... at the Presidential Villa.

The prodigal son had returned home.