Anenih@79: Politics And Humanity In His Blood
Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih, who turns 79 today, means different things to different people in the ecology of Nigerian politics. To some mischief makers, he is “Mr. Fix It.” To some mafia-minded people, who have more than scant interest in politics, he is understandably “The godfather,” while to many others with a deep sense of appreciation of his humanity, he is “The Leader.” But expectedly, it is the sobriquet of “The Leader” that Anenih himself relates to simply because that is what he, in all measures of reasonableness, truly is. People, who are close to him, pointedly address him as such to emphasise their loyal followership and it resonates well in his consciousness. None, close to him, has ever or can ever look into his eyes and address him as “Mr. Fix It” or “The godfather.”
The deprecating aura that both exude in the nation’s political arena does not aptly convey the essential content of the Anenih persona. Yet, the other camps have always played them up in their deliberate scheme to demonise him within and outside the cosmos of political affairs where he hit the limelight. It is, indeed, paradoxical that politics, which brought him fame, has also earned him scorn.
But then, he has chosen to bear the cross, his own cross. Politics is in his blood and he plays it with all the passion and devotion of a religious aficionado. He accepts the compliments that come with it as well as the bashings. He relishes the victories, the accomplishments and the bravura performances of his party and candidates during electoral contests. He has also learned to live with the pains of defeat whenever he suffers any.
This is his disposition to politics, which is far flung from the myth of invincibility that has been created around him by his traducers who have tried to create the erroneous impression in the minds of those who do not know him (Anenih) that he behaves as a god in human flesh as far as politics and electoral contestations are concerned.
But here is the true portrait of the man: a grand politician who is loyal to his leadership and followership; an ardent mobiliser of human resources; a political strategist with the can-do spirit who believes in positive thinking as well as the force of great and reasonable expectations.
Consider his text message to his associates and followers on the July 14, 2012 governorship election in Edo State: “This is to specially thank you for your commitment and contributions to the efforts by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to reclaim Edo State in the July 14 governorship election in the state. Although results appear completely at variance with all reasonable expectations, I encourage you to rest assured that your sacrifices and labour of love will not be in vain… .”
This has only reinforced his humanity which lends more credence to his capacity to play the role of a dependable leader, which fact was recognised way back in 1992 by the late Major General Shehu Musa Yar’Adua who was the first person to address him (Anenih) as “Leader” in recognition of his ability to galvanise men and harness resources for results. The late Yar’Adua was then jostling for the presidency on the platform of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP), while Anenih was then the National Campaign Director of the presidential project.
The description has, since then, stuck and Anenih has continued to relentlessly apply himself to the rigorous requirements and dictates of the position. Certainly, it is all about his humanity: here is a leader who is always touched with the feelings of the “infirmities” of his associates and followers and he always acts in accordance to bringing joy into a grieving heart. It is the legendary generosity of this retired police commissioner-turned businessman-politician, which is the core of the humanity component of his persona that I eulogize on this occasion.
Born in Uromi on August 4, 1933, Anenih attended Government School, Uromi; Hendon and Scotland Yard Training School, United Kingdom; he was a Federal Government scholar, Brom Shill Police College, Bosing Stoke, Hampshire, United kingdom; International Police Academy, Washington, D.C. United States of America (US.A). He was also at the Administrative and Staff College (ASCON), Topo-Badagry in 1975. He was appointed President, Benin Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (1978-84); and was elected Life President (1990).
He was chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the old Bendel State; National Campaign Director of Shehu Musa Yar’Adua for President in 1992; National Chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party (SDP) from 1991 to 1993; he was member of the National Constitutional Conference in 1995 and member of the Presidential Policy Advisory Committee of PDP in 1999. He was Minister of Works and Housing from 1999 to 2002 and later became Chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees from 2004 to 2007. He was also Chairman of the Board of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) until the dissolution of all the boards early this year.
He holds the traditional title of Iyasele (Prime Minister) of Esanland. He was conferred with an honorary doctorate of the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State. He also holds the national honour of Commander of the Federal Republic (CFR).
Sufuyan Ojeifo, Editor-in-Chief, The Congresswatch magazine, wrote in from Abuja.Share