All luck is not transferable, is it? — a friend often jokes, a glint of mischief in his eyes.
But what if ill luck is a constant plague in your public life — tough?
That seems the fate of Iyorchia Ayu, embattled PDP national chair, caught in a North-South cross-salvo, onward the presidential sweepstakes of 2023.
Dr. Ayu dawned on Nigerian politics as a dashing and rather intellectual young man: the first president of the Senate, in the diarchy that preceded the still-birth 3rd Republic (1 January 1992 – 27 November 1993), under Gen. Ibrahim Babangida.
But soon enough, ill luck rammed on his public door — with his impeachment and replacement by Ameh Ebute, though for standing up for Abiola’s June 12 mandate.
That portrait of the Senate president as a young man, pummelled by ill luck, has followed Ayu the old man (he locks 70 on November 15) and controversial PDP boss — a chair he fights the political battle of his life to keep.
Between 1993 and now, Ayu’s has been some depressing study in presidential hire-and-fire.
First, under Gen. Sani Abacha: Ayu was replaced with the loud and controversial, though grimly loyal, Wada Nas aka ”Wada Noise”: on account of his implacable defence of Abacha in life and in death.
Then, under President Olusegun Obasanjo: after a battery of shuffles and re-shuffles, Obasanjo finally dismissed Ayu in December 2005, giving no reasons.
But it needed no genius to figure the presidential guillotine slashed through Ayu’s ministerial neck for being an Atiku Abubakar partisan — then a Vice President declared persona-non-grata in the presidency he re-won with Obasanjo, in the controversial 2003 elections.
So, if Atiku sticks with Ayu now, you must understand both have come a long way.
Both left PDP for Action Congress (AC), Atiku’s platform for his 2007 presidential run, though then a political refugee.
Both, still refugees, were founding members of APC. Both later gobbled their vomit to return to PDP.
Now, both have grossed the PDP chair and PDP presidential ticket in a North-North lock-up — a one-track blast that Nyesom Wike and co insist fuels the current PDP conflagration, on the virtual eve of a crucial election.
Will Ayu come up short as he did under Abacha and Obasanjo? Or would he this time ride the tide and deliver some triumph with Atiku? Time will tell.
Still, for such an endangered species, Dr. Ayu has a rather ruinous proclivity.
In the heat of the moment, Ayu pronounced Aminu Tambuwal the “hero” of the PDP presidential convention, for withdrawing for Atiku to clinch the ticket.
But this particular “heroism” has led to a northern PDP triumvirate: PDP chair (Ayu), PDP presidential candidate (Atiku), director-general of the Atiku campaign (Tambuwal)! That not-so-heroic mis-jive may well haunt Ayu till the end of his political life
Besides, this northern “hat trick” (to borrow that football lingo) has given the Nyesom Wike anti-Atiku blitz much of its vim, for it robes PDP in a distinctly northern tribal hue.
Even then, as the battle drew, Ayu dismissed his Wike-led nemesis as a band of kids not there when the grandees — like Ayu, who these callow kids now had the temerity to challenge — were forming and nurturing PDP!
Then, at the Uyo, Akwa Ibom, launch of the Atiku Abubakar presidential campaign, Ayu claimed the PDP train had rolled off — a rather amusing euphemism to call the bluff of Wike and co — but that it could still be halted to accommodate everyone (another even more comical bluff, with the stark balance of extant PDP powers).
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So, might a footloose tongue be Dr. Ayu’s real challenge, which powers the ill luck that clearly has blighted his public persona: impeached president of Senate, dismissed former minister of the Federal Republic, and now, endangered party chair?
Is he perhaps fated to be yanked off the neck of his troubled party in high storm — just as the albatross in ST Coleridge’s long, long poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”?
These are complex questions that, frankly, hardly anyone can provide accurate answers. What is certain, though, is that the omens are grim.
Suffice it to say too that a party which simple yet grand electoral joker was to point fingers at present challenges to cynically milk voter pains and sympathy, is ironically getting doubtful — and maybe scornful — fingers pointed at its war-without-end.
Sure, it’s no crime for the opposition to nail the sitting order with its flaws, just to unhorse it. APC did the same en route to defeating PDP in 2015.
The cynicism here, however, is that much of the challenges in this season of leanness could have been averted in the epoch of plenty, which approximated the PDP 16 years in power (1999-2015).
More like a sick ode to self-glory than salute to clinical thinking, President Obasanjo handed good cash, in hard currency, to Nigeria’s creditors, for debt “cancellation”.
No matter the short-term euphoria over that deal, that cash if invested in massive and renewed infrastructure, could have galvanized the economy to routinely pay back those debts.
If that had been done, much of the post-PDP borrowing, on which scarecrow the party was poised to hang its campaign pitches, would have been averted.
Then, the abiding morass in the power sector has its root in the crony privatization of the PDP era, during which the old Power Holding Company of Nigeria (PHCN) was balkanized and sold to DisCo “investors” — a travesty for sweetheart cronies that neither had the capital nor technical nous to run those critical shops.
Mix collapsed infrastructure: decayed roads plus comatose rail, with a power sector dead as dodo, even after gulping humongous cash during the Obasanjo-era power sector reforms, and you have a perfect reason for today’s gritty poverty.
Add the gangling, preening, equal-opportunity sleaze under President Goodluck Jonathan and you’ll clearly see the incalculable harm the former ruling party had done this country. Yet, it was priming itself to cynically point fingers!
The Wike “rebellion” seems to have put paid to all that though it’s early days yet. But the chaos appears set for a higher gear, with another G-4 set to call Wike and co’s bluff and stick with Ayu — no matter what.
That G-4? Edo’s Godwin Obaseki, Bayelsa’s Duoye Diri, Adamawa’s Ahmadu Fintiri and Taraba’s Darius Ishaku — a gubernatorial quad sworn to calling Wike’s bluff. But where does that leave their splintered party?
Jesus the Christ said his crucifixion was divinely settled. But woe betide the vessel that aided its fulfilment — and that was Judas.
Is nature paying PDP back, for its past ills, with this chaos in rich technicolor? Still, might history still blame Albatross Ayu — like Judas — for aiding the chaos foretold?
Time will tell!
Sir ‘Eyo — one year after
14 October 2021, it was all gloom — the passage, at 73, of Dr. Adewale Adesoji Adeeyo, OON — the triple Alpha in everything: good breeding, compassion, generosity, sartorial excellence, emotional intelligence and overall a sweet and good man.
14 October 2022, exactly one year after, it was time to relive and savour AAA’s abiding sweetness, at a simple but classy first year remembrance in his Ikeja GRA home, as Sir ‘Eyo himself would have wished.
Keep on resting in bliss. As the Lord lives, your widow and the two boys in her care would never walk alone. Indeed, sweet is the memory of the just! Sleep on!