Nigeria recently lost an astute politician, elder statesman and master strategist in the death of Chief Anthony Anenih in Abuja. He died at Cedar Crest Hospital, Abuja, at the age of 85. Born on August 4, 1933, at Uzenema Arue in Uromi, Edo State, Anenih rose beyond his local environment to become a national icon and politician of note. His foray into politics began in the Second Republic and his accomplishments as a man of immense influence whose words carried enormous weight, is acknowledged by his political associates and friends. It is, therefore, not a surprise why he was given the sobriquet, “Mr. Fix it”, on account of his political strategy and leadership style. His earlier job as a police officer might have prepared him adequately for political leadership. Anenih joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1951 in Benin City. He later attended the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos. He was also trained at Bramshill Police College, Basingstoke, England, in 1966 as well as the International Police Academy in Washington DC, USA, in 1970. After retiring from the police as a Commissioner, he joined politics. Anenih was the police orderly to the late first Governor General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He served as an instructor in various police colleges in the country.
He was appointed the State Chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) in the old Bendel State, to replace the then state Chairman of the party, Chief Tayo Akpata. He was a member of the 1994 Constitutional Conference.
Some Nigerians believe that the deceased had skills to accomplish tasks many found hard to do. He was said to have done them with ease. Anenih was seen as a public figure with a strong voice that only a few can ignore. He was the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The deceased was appointed the Minister of Works by former President Olusegun Obasanjo in 1999. He later became the Chairman, Board of Trustees (BoT) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) under the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency. Some members of the BoT of the PDP still recall with nostalgia the charisma he brought into the party. He was described as a man of few words, but his actions showed a dependable man who had great respect for public service. And he never underperformed.
Some prominent Nigerians have lauded the sterling qualities of the deceased since his demise. To President Muhammadu Buhari, “Anenih lived a life of service, as State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, chieftain of the PDP and a former Minister of Works.” Similarly, the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, noted that the deceased was a “consummate leader and statesman who played several defining roles throughout Nigeria’s democracy.” Other Nigerians that have lauded Anenih’s qualities include the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, Speaker, House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara and the former military President, Ibrahim Babangida.
Anenih was a great Nigerian patriot who put high premium on public service. He was also a great politician and leader. He played vital roles in the national politics of 1999 till his death. He would be remembered for his leadership qualities. Nigerians will surely miss him at this period of intense politicking ahead of the 2019 general election. Let the Federal Government immortalise him for his contributions to the growth of the nation’s party politics. Some politicians can learn some lessons from his brand of politics.
We commiserate with his family, political associates, the Nigeria Police Force, the government and people of Edo State and the Federal Government for the irreparable loss. May God grant his soul eternal repose.