Pius Anyim: The Symbol Of Our Politics

by Banjo Odutola

If the ignorance of the existence of Pius Anyim, the current and long surviving Speaker of the Nigerian Senate were claimed before he became a nobler, then a good company beckons because amongst his Lawyer colleagues, he was a nonentity. At least, eminent Lawyers said so when he aspired to the office of the Speaker of the Senate. If the company of Lawyers is a proclivity for which there is no flair, then the unpropitious Corp that called him a bugbear because of his inexperience of the antics of Nigerian politics served the same purpose as his fraternal brotherhood that denied his prowess. His embonpoint suggested the man was satisfied with a life of Egunje even though his previous career, unlike the formerly customs man turned Vice President, was farther from taking or being offered such income that cannot be declared for tax purposes and his physiognomy is a betrayal of his satisfaction which is not skin deep.

The man from Ishiagy, Ebonyi State, had come into politics without the hubris, braggadocio and grandiloquence of neither Chuba Okadigbo nor the traduced capricious Evan Enwerem. Pius Anyim is separated by the desire of his Ayanmo, a fate that enrobed him in a conspicuously borrowed and ill-fitting cloak, and he may soon find out that the same fate like all of abstractionism animates life and offers no warnings when its crudities return him to oblivion where he came from. Nonetheless, he represents all that is good and bad in our collective aspirations which when translated into mechanics of politics instructs that there are lessons our politicians must abide, emulate and eschew. All in all, Pius Anyim is a contradiction that makes our politics the infamy for the electorate.

In a short span of time, his persona, politics and purpose which only a couple of years ago were inconsequential, have now become dominant with his compeers, the presidency and Grub Street. He may not have adhered to the advice to know his place but at no time has he referred to himself as ‘number 3 man‘ in the hierarchical game of our politics which references seem to pivot political profiling on numerology. He became a man for whom those who consider politics as a sinecure curry favours in return for an eluding loyalty. The burden of being an upstart from nowhere and with no family moneybag patriarch turned him into a compliant to the presidency and all things to all men. Accordingly, his loyalty lacked a base and he became exposed to another type of existence where friendship is made only for a purpose. Instead of earning loyalties for his benefactions, he was repaid with sobriquets, such as ‘Bomboy’: which is hardly an insult as it is a descriptive elucidation of his physical stature. Others call him ‘Karawun Igbin‘: an insult that describes his clinging to Obasanjo (like the shell clings to the snail).

His performance in the august House has endeared him to a few of his intransigent corp of senators who believe in the theory of discordance to achieve their objectives. Rather than isolate such senators who wanted a feisty Speaker who cared less for cerebration, he concentrated on his weakness of what he embodies. He is a contradistinction which is not on the surface as complex as it is deep. Now, his weakness confounds even the man himself. In his pursuit to set a landmark to prove that he is no pushover, he turned gladiatorial out of character on an issue that is trivial to his office and what the Senate represents. He should have sought an appropriate opportunity to wound the president, if that was his objective; the budget is likely an issue that wounds and he ought to have known better. If he had studied the impeachment trials in the United States of America, he would have noticed that personal weaknesses of the impeached presidents had a great deal to do with their downfall. Simply, you do not allow Obasanjo to be impeached on nothing other than a fault in his character which bears on his office as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The Ebonyi man must have eaten well in Abuja; so much so that he forgot to inculcate an abiding principle which instructs that you do not go to sleep when your roof is on fire. The naked fire for Anyim is disguising itself as the top echelon of his own political party and in the same breath his miscalculations may be the same mistake to be repeated by his party because he poses as much danger to the duo of Obasanjo and Ogbeh, who falsely may believe in their own political goodwill that can be turned around to destroy them.

Pius Anyim is now calling on the faithful to rise and claim the party without taking into account that only a man who comes from somewhere can make such a call. This Speaker has no history and he is an embodiment of our copycat ‘American Dream‘. Pity. He has not consolidated his authority and influence before believing in the mirage in his own life. As the weight of his misfortune becomes apparent to his detractors who are in the wings to appoint and anoint the next stooge, the knives to reduce him to size (and by that I do not take account of his large girth) are in their sheaths waiting to be drawn. In all of the current theatre of our politics, the latest misadventure to impeach the president may consign the aspirations of this Speaker to the footnote of history and equally instruct us as a nation of the hopelessness of our politics.

But, why should the acquiescence of the Speaker be adequate to offend this president? The answer is not in the fault of Anyim but in the way Obasanjo perceives himself to our collective existence. This Nigerian president may well be larger than Life but he requires the humility to allow minions to operate past their stations without ensnaring them. In fact, it only stands to benefit the president who cannot stand around to turn another cheek as his faith teaches. This, of course infers that the Speaker is a minion to the larger than life Obasanjo even though fate may have enjoined them at the umbilical cord of our democracy; it is inconceivable to compare both.

Anyim has his problems and the impeachment debate for which he was instrumental is the proverbial last straw, while the disclosure of the request for 120 Million Naira from the Senate coffers to fund the ruling party compound the problems on the ground. I submit that the failed impeachment ought not offend the ruling party; in fact, it ought to be glad because the exercise can be used in its favour. Through the miscalculations of the Speaker, PDP could have proffered a unique and superior stance which it could claim that this ruling party spares not its kin when the business of the nation is in jeopardy. Though we know truth is different. This is a spin the party overlooked and now it finds itself in an imbroglio it could have avoided.

Whether the party spins or not, is it now clear to Obasanjo that the nocturnal relative who has no gainful employment and finances the whole family may after all be a thief or a dishonest man? Albeit, the hand of the relative has not been caught in the till, there is no excuse that can absolve anyone who thought the providing relative is nothing but a dishonest person. Obasanjo whose 1999 campaign was financed by questionable money and who distances himself from the people we suspect have plundered our treasury cannot now ignore the development in his back yard. The President should probe Audu Ogbeh and the Speaker of the Senate. The result of such a probe would uncover some of the dirty dealings that Obasanjo seems to have perfected: ‘see no evil, challenge no evil and speak of no evil in your backyard‘. Could we be assured that PDP Ministers have not used a part of our National Budgets in their ministries for party political benefits while salaries remain unpaid? And, we must not forget the PDP Governors. Have they used part of the State security votes known as soft money for aiding their dying party? We need answers to these questions and we are impatient.

The disclosure of the letter from the Chairman of PDP is the gravitas in which the Speaker may be a point of rally or the only person who can allow the extraordinary and corruptible request made of the Senate funds to become the bane of Obasanjo’s corruption campaign. Therefore, an attempt to deny the 120 Million-Naira story will only serve to destroy the credibility of this government and the president may find to his surprise that his footmen may not wish to be left with a weeping baby. So, the buck may stop with him, no matter how he wishes to be absolved.

The impending meeting of 10th July 2002 should not be an opportunity to read the Riot Act to a person like the Speaker of the Senate or any House of Assembly member when cross-carpeting remains an attractive option. Well, there is always a type of self-destruct in our politics and it should not surprise if the Speaker seeks refuge elsewhere in the near future. If this happens, then it would be as miscalculating for PDP as it is for Anyim because the issues that brought about the present exigencies will enervate and weaken the existence of PDP as a political party.

Why am I positing in this way? Is it likely that Anyim has given me Egunje or am I spinning on his behalf? I spin for no one and I have never and neither am I keen on a person who the gods have helped to break his Kola nut; I am a mere observer of Nigerian Politics. Hence, I stand to make a comparison with what obtained in British politics at the time of Margaret Thatcher, the former British Prime Minister. You may recall Geoffrey Howe, now Lord Howe of Aberavon who was at a time her Foreign Secretary and Michael Heseltine, her nemesis, who were proactive on the issues of Europe. The position of their boss was unacceptable to them and she as always made her position known through veiled means and that includes her displeasure with the position held by Howe and Heseltine; the two gentlemen. She, like Obasanjo had hatchet men who did her biddings. Unfortunately for Mrs Thatcher, Neil Kinnock, then Leader of the opposition at Prime Minister Question Time (PMQ) bated her with a question on the same issue that was meant for Thatcher to make public her dislike for the Howe and Heseltine. The rancour that ensued destroyed not only Mrs Thatcher, Geoffrey Howe and Michael Heseltine suffered, the British Conservative Party has since not recovered from it. The party is now comatose because of ideals faulted by interpersonal relationships. In our politics, it is not about ideals, it is mainly personal.

Why is Anyim a symbol of our politics? We operate a politics that is not based on any form of principles save for personal aggrandisement and promotion. It is the politics of ‘abi you don’t know your rank?’ as much as it is about ‘position pass power‘. In all of the standoffs, our people suffer and our politics is stunted. Although he is from nowhere and of little or no influence, Anyim’s attendance of the matters at hand may well determine where the battle for the survival of PDP will be fought and lost. For, in the ensuing battle, his head with those of others least expected may be lost as well. Yet, our polity would not have been enriched by the ideas and ideals of the new politics that is meant to be different from the politics of the First Republic.

As we are closer to 2003, more Pius Anyims who have benefited from this current dispensation would be able to take on the old hacks and the end result may be like the aftermath of a rhinoceros charging into a China glass shop. The losses would be the precious glass as the herbivorous mammal would walk away only to do it again if not negotiated away. The inference herein, is that our politics has groomed many Anyims in the last three years and they are ready to be unleashed into the society. The spectacle of destruction they can unleash can be avoided if only we deal with them carefully. I hold this view because of my belief that our politics need not be destroyed at the altar of ‘abi you no know your rank?’

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