Chairman of the Party

by Uzor Maxim Uzoatu

The inimitable Peter Enahoro, aka Peter Pan, wrote in his classic book, How To Be A Nigerian: “Next to God, there is nothing that fills the heart of the Nigerian with greater awe than a Chairman.”

According to Peter Enahoro, “God is divine, but the Chairman rules the temporal.”

The truth of course is that being a chairman may have been such a great deal in the past, but not now in the present tense of the construction of Nigerian political parties.

The chairman can no longer be written in the upper case as Peter Enahoro did because the chairman of any political party has been reduced to the houseboy of the president or the governor.

Time was when as Chairman of the ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) Chief AMA Akinloye towered as a larger-than-life personage that had a costly range of champagnes imported in his name!

Since the advent of President Olusegun Obasanjo in the Fourth Republic, or whatever it is called, the political party chairman can be kicked about like a football.

I am writing this piece because of the recently deceased former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Prince Vincent Ogbulafor, who once boasted that his party will reign for 60 uninterrupted years.

As an aside, the most beautiful girl I ever met in secondary school went by the name of Ogbulafor, and because of her I had to engineer spending my holiday in Umuahia where I had never ever been before!

The sad aspect of the beautiful girl of my Umuahia adventure is that my classmate, John Mike, an Umuahia brought-up with whom I adored the beneficent Ogbulafor beauty got lost in the USA and has since been buried by the family without the corpse ever being found!

Now there is this emergent burden of the former PDP chairman Prince Ogbulafor passing away in Candada.

Not much was heard of Ogbulafor after he had been used and dumped in the regular PDP fashion.

He ranked as yet another had-been in the ignoble PDP fold of hounded and abandoned chairmen.

It simply amounted to medicine after death for Ogbulafor to claim that he took the decision to resign in order to face the corruption charges filed against him by the Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission (ICPC).

It needs to be recalled that Ogbulafor started out in the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) only to later emerge as PDP chairman.

Such political prostitution almost always ended up in calamity of anonymity, even as Ogbulafor put up himself as a martyr of sorts by offering this lamentation: “I am confident that I will be vindicated.”

With the hapless Prince Ogbulafor gone with the winds, the then self-advertised biggest political party in Africa went looking for yet another sacrificial lamb to occupy the post of party chairman.

PDP set the unenviable record of disgracing six of its seven chairmen in 15 years, and Dr. Okwesilieze Nwodo had to run for his dear life from dangerous plots and court cases.

The PDP’s house of cards has continued to tumble as anybody appointed or elected chairman or whatever always stepped on deadly banana peels.

Under ex-President Obasanjo, PDP changed its chairmanship like a whore changed partners.

Chief Audu Ogbeh remarkably had to resign at gunpoint before the imperial presence of Obasanjo after eating pounded yam with the Ebora of Owu!

At least, Ogbulafor could thank his stars that President Goodluck Jonathan was not the gun-wielding type!

What presidents Obasanjo and Jonathan could do, a state governor in the robust shape and size of Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State could do worse!

Wike only needed to point a chubby finger up, and the happy-go-lucky Uche Secondus was appointed PDP national chairman.

Then the selfsame Wike pointed the finger down, and poor Secondus perforce became not just second, but dead last, in the PDP hierarchy.

A maker of umbrella magic, Wike waved the wand of his magic and Iyorchia Ayu instantly manifested as chairman.

Now that Wike wants Ayu to step down as chairman, the former Aluta man is not playing ball such that the Rivers supreme has resorted to chanting diabolical incantations and singing eerie music while dancing to cryptic Igbotic songs!

I think this advice by Peter Enahoro in How To Be A Nigerian should serve Wike well in his war with Ayu: “The umbrella is a status symbol and only men of culture and distinction may carry umbrellas in the dry season. The umbrella also falls handy if in the midst of a heated argument, the Chairman is compelled to mete out discipline.”

Here’s calling for a weaponized PDP umbrella for the angry Wike!

Finally, some of my readers may be wondering why I’ve not referred to the other party, APC, that is, the ruling party, but who needs or knows the chairman when there is a National Leader?

It is my turn now to put the full final stop here!

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