Port Harcourt — How the tide turns; how politics plays; how fate floors… who would’ve believed that Iyorchia Ayu and Abdullahi Adamu national chairmen of the PDP and APC respectively will be out in the cold in Q3, 2023? The two veteran politicians held sway in their respective parties, seemingly unassailable in the murky and uncharted waters of Nigerian politics. But they came, lost and left with fortune joining them as twins of disaster in a land where party politics is warped and worrying. Former university don, Ayu came to his role with impressive credentials, having served as Senate President and Minister in several portfolios. Then Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike opened the door for him in 2021, when he (Wike) turned against his kinsman, the incumbent chairman since 2017, Uche Secondus, because his tenure would be an albatross for his presidential ambition. So rather conveniently, Uche’s ward in Andoni suddenly remembered that the man who was once hailed as “Total chairman” due to his survival instincts in state and national politics, was not current with his party dues and suspended him. Despite a spirited fight on the pages of newspapers and in the courts, Uche was replaced by Ayu as a consensus candidate on October 31, 2021, the 15th chairman of a party which had produced the President of Nigeria from 1999 until 2015 when Buhari nailed the outstanding upset against Goodluck Johnathan.
Then, as Wike’s ambition was dashed by Atiku, it was the turn of Ayu to go, in a relentless fight led by the same Rivers State Governor who recruited four of his colleagues. Their demand was that Ayu should step down for a Southerner since Atiku, a northerner, emerged as the Presidential candidate. Ayu refused, PDP lost the election, and he was replaced by National Deputy Chairman (North) Umar Iliya Damagum. The revolving-door scenario was the same in APC and you would think Nigeria’s two biggest political parties were singing from the same hymn sheet. APC was formed in 2013 following the merger of the Action Congress of Nigeria, the Congress for Progressive Change and the All-Nigeria Peoples Party. Their ranks were boosted when a faction of the All-Progressives Grand Alliance and five Governors of the PDP joined them. Former Edo State Governor John Oyegun was the pioneer National Chairman in 2014, and he led the party to record the first defeat of an incumbent President by the opposition in the history of Nigeria. Three years later, the demon of ouster came knocking on the doors of Oyegun when some APC Governors accused him of inept leadership. The man fought tooth and nail but was replaced in 2018 by fellow Edo State indigene and also former Governor Adams Oshiomhole.
The tireless demon came again, and Oshiomhole was suspended from APC when, you won’t believe this, chairmen of the party in 18 local government areas of the state he once governed, passed a vote of no confidence on him. Enter Abdullahi Adamu, lawyer, former Minister, Nasarawa State Governor and Senator. Ironically, Adamu was a founding member of the PDP. Adamu took the role of APC National Chairman in March last year. His tenure had been eventful for the wrong reasons. In the APC presidential primaries, he supported the then Senate President, Ahmed Lawan, and was said to have presented his man to the National Working Committee as the anointed successor to Buhari, which the incumbent President promptly denied. Just last week, Adamu re-ignited the same sentiments of partisanship when he famously said in a TV interview that, while he supported Lawan in the APC presidential primaries, he worked for Tinubu to win. As you would expect, his enemies remembered only the part of his remarks pertaining to Lawan. To crown it all, Adamu disowned the distribution of key offices in the Senate, saying it was a mere rumour. His attempts to walk back the comments that he only “had issues with the manner the communication was handled by the lawmakers” came too late too little.
On 17th July 2023, the National Working Committee met in an emergency session in Abuja and confirmed reports that the National Chairman and the National Secretary had resigned. It was anticlimax for Adamu who would have celebrated his 77th birthday on July 23, 2023. The two men have been replaced by their deputies, Abubakar Kyari and Festus Fuanter respectively. The demonisation of the men has begun. They were blamed for “refusal to render accounts for one year, lack of transparency, violation of the party constitution and running a one-man show without the contribution of the National Working Committee.” As the two men lick their wounds and as Nigerians ponder over the frequent goings-and-comings in political parties, we must recognise that Nigerian politicians are only acting out the DNA of our body polity. You would find the same APC and PDP tussle in the Labour Party which has been split right in the middle. What is wrong? A lot, but in reality, nothing! Our politics is based on personalities not ideologies. So, you won’t find anyone quarrelling or cross carpeting based on ideology or ideas. What ideas? What ideology? None at all. The quarrels are over the perks of office and over who occupies what post. Ayu and Adamu are the latest unsavoury examples of this trend and their successors had better prepare for the day they would fall also on the knives.
More than 24 hours after the changes, I visited the APC website, to find Adamu and Omisore still listed in their roles. As I mused that the fast-paced development appeared to have caught the party’s media machinery off-guard, a chatbox mail popped up. “Hello, welcome to All Progressives Congress (APC) Support,” it said, asking, “How may I help you?” I quipped: “Help yourself, first!”