By Sam Nwaobasi
“Are you sure he is only 60?” a close associate of his shot at me during a discussion on the 60th birthday celebration of Senator Anyim Pius Anyim. I was taken aback. I could have asked that question myself. Knowing where he comes from, Igboland, where opportunities are lean and competition very keen, if not cut-throat, to have been elected Senate President 21 years ago and appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) 10 years ago should raise questions or doubts, how can Anyim be only 60? I believe Senator Anyim. I know some of his schoolmates. I have listened to his story from both himself and people who grew up with him in their rural village in Ishiagu in Ebonyi State.
His is a clear case of God’s grace locating a man, whom nothing from his family or his own efforts recommended for what God has brought his way. His story and background are not lost on him. I guess, his humility and simple lifestyle all stem from the fact that he acknowledges that it has been God all the way for him. Senator Anyim Pius Anyim has refused to be defined by what life threw at him at birth. With limited resources, to put it most mildly, he struggled through primary and secondary school. He ended up reading law at Imo State University and later obtained a master’s degree also in law from the University of Jos. His career progression and accomplishments in life are already in the public domain.
Anyim has been specially blessed by God in ways and areas that are very obvious, and many other areas that people may not see easily. It is easy to see the political offices he has occupied, which have given him stature and visibility in the society. It is also easy to see his acquisitions: houses, cars, et cetera. Now, how easy is it to see good health and sound mind that enable a man to wake up strong and work from morning to night every day of the week? How easy is it to see peace of mind, made possible by a wife who is totally devoted, caring, loving, a prayer warrior and an excellent manager of the home front? How easy is it to see the joy that comes from responsible, respectful and well-mannered children who are nothing like the typical ‘rich man’s children’ peddling their father’s influence and flaunting their family wealth? I wonder how many people, outside the church and family circle, know Anyim’s wife, an accomplished woman in her own right; a law graduate from a modestly noble background. She minds her business, which, essentially, is to look after her husband and children. These are real wealth hidden from the eyes.
Senator Anyim has successfully ‘infected’ his close-knit family with his humility and modesty. In his home, peace and love reign. His wife, like the submissive and dutiful wife she is, treats people with respect and welcomes visitors warmly. She shares freely whatever she has with all around her. She spares a thought for everyone. This is also to wish Mrs. Chioma Anyim a happy birthday, which was on February 18, only a day before her husband’s.
As Senator Anyim turns 60, his family, friends and associates are rejoicing with him. Save for the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many people whose lives Anyim has touched in positive ways, who are ready to bring down the roof in celebration of him. Many people have good things to say about Anyim. One recurring testimony from almost every person that paid tribute to him on this occasion of his 60th birthday is his humility. From bosses whom Anyim worked under, to associates and contemporaries, to people who have worked under him or for him, to widows in his Ishiagu community, everyone is talking about his humility and commitment to duty.
Anyim has incredible energy and appetite for work. He holds nothing back when there is work to be done. He drives those working with him very hard. He has served Nigeria with commitment and dedication. His record of service to our dear country is outstanding and untainted by scandals and controversies. From a distance, given his huge frame and often serious visage, Anyim may come across as a not-too-friendly person. His taciturn nature does not help this assumption either. He talks little and, when he does, his almost inaudible voice, which belies his physical disposition, masks the seriousness of his subject matter. He can be very committed to whatever he is doing. Senator Jonathan Zwingina, while paying tribute to him, said, “If Anyim wants something from anyone, he will be so focused and persistent that the individual will have to yield, if not on the merit of the request but at least to have some respite.”
Anyim thinks his actions and moves through thoroughly. He is easily taken for granted by those who don’t know him too well. I guess this has worked well for him especially in politics. People don’t easily see him coming. Anyim loves and guards his peace of mind jealously. He avoids confrontations as much as he can, but does not run away from battles when brought to his doorsteps. There is an interesting side of the Anyim persona that was hidden by pressure of work that has come to the fore since he left office in 2015. Anyim now radiates happiness, banters lively, ‘laughs out loud,’ to borrow the language of today’s people, and generally has time to ‘live.’
Anyim is not the typical career politician. He has a second address. Once out of office, he retires to his law firm and carries on with his life like any other ordinary citizen. At 60, what should Anyim be doing with his rich experience and deep knowledge of the workings of government in both the legislative and executive arms? Having been exposed to the business of governance at very strategic and high levels, what benefits can the nation draw from the reservoir of knowledge that Anyim and many like him possess? At such a time when Nigeria is grappling with myriads of challenges in almost every area of national life, should people like Anyim throw up their hands in the air in gratitude to God for his manifold blessings and proceed into retirement when there is still so much to be done? Should Nigerians allow people with such requisite experience, character and proven record of quality service just walk away while the country wallows in the woods? I just wonder.
As Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, GCON, turns 60, this is wishing him a joyful and memorable celebration. May the wisdom of God continue to guide him in whatsoever his chooses to apply his time and energy in the days to come. Congratulations, my boss and my brother.
• Sam Nwaobasi