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Opinions of Saturday, 22 October 2016

Columnist: Samuel Alesu-Dordzi

Why choose election year to defect?

Defections cut both ways. They are bound to make one party comfortable and another uncomfortable. And probably depending on the person defecting, the feeling may be that of indifference.

Be it in literature or real life, the defector is always an interesting character. The defector is ostracised; criticised and simply labelled as a “betrayer” by his former colleagues and associates.

On the flip side, he will always be considered as an outsider, gold digger or even a spy in his newfound association or party. But either way, they are still an interesting part of politics.

They are like the pendulums that swing every now and then from one point to another. In genuine cases, they have what it takes to change the balance of power.

They are usually lined up behind the television cameras and given the opportunity to give reasons why they no longer desire to be part of their former association. And more often than not, the views articulated are negative.

In the case of a heavy weight, a press conference is held. The defector is usually clad in the paraphernalia of the new party that he has declared allegiance to. And with a microphone in hand, begins to spew a litany of the charges he has against his former party.

The question that has always been on my mind is why do people choose election years to defect. Why can’t it be in the first or second year of the term of an administration? Why should it always be on the verge of an election? Why do people harbour all their discontents for the first three years of an administration; and finally choose to pack out when it is close to the election period.

My answer. First, it is a set up. Television images are powerful. We are likely to join the bandwagon; or at the very least majority of the populace love to be on the bandwagon.

We like to think that there must be some good reason behind the reason why people are ditching one party and pitching camp with another. We never want to be left out of the good things of life. We all want to be partakers.

Images of such defectors with the litany of complaints are indeed very powerful; and the parties would stage it if they have to in order to get their messages across.

Consider this. There are currently reports of defections in the Ashanti Region the strong hold of the New Patriotic Party (NPP). The number of the supposed defectors will shock you. Eight hundred male supporters of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) are supposedly defecting to the National Democratic Congress (NDC). And what’s more they will be outdoored. Then flip the coin the other way round.

The NPP is also busy generating lists of supposed defectors in the strong hold of the ruling government – the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and Volta regions. They are also usually outdoored. The concentration of these defections in the strongholds of the various political parties tells us one thing only – it is for their psychological effect.

The veracity of these defections are usually hard to ascertain. Take the case of one Yahaya Seidu, popularly known on social media platforms as Braa Prex-doe.

He disclosed on Bole-based radio that one of the reasons he left the NPP was because of Nana Akufo-Addo’s One Village, One Dam policy. Then in the next moment, the NPP constituency responds by asserting that the supposed defectors is a liar and untrustworthy.

The moral foundations of these defections are usually shaky. For instance, why would anyone think highly of someone who defects from a political party to another simply because he had been outreached in a deal which for starters can be classed as plain theft or mismanagement.

Or why should anyone have sympathies for someone who has defected to another political party simply because resources were being distributed in a manner that would not have favoured him personally.

There may be limited instances of persons defecting every now and then. They may be genuine. They may be credible. But frankly, I don’t think so much weight should be placed on the defections we see every now and then.

The proof of the pudding is in the eating. The proof or honesty behind these defections will be in the votes cast. And it is just a matter of time.

We may never understand fully why persons would only choose to defect from a party in an election year. But one thing is clear. It may be due to genuine concerns, disagreements and interests. And being human, it may be a mix of genuine concerns and self-ambitions.