Anenih in the eye of the storm – By Vincent Egunyanga, Benin



The people of Edo state received with jubilation the news as one of their own Chief Tony Anenih has been elected or selected or even appointed as the Chairman of the Board of Trustree [ BOT] of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP]. Here is a man that has done so much to humanity all his years without making much noice about it. He has helped bring development to the state, the South South and the nation at large. I wish to congratulate him.

Chief Tony Anenih means different things to different people, while some choose to hate him others like him while some simply fear him, but one thing is clear Tony Anenih is not someone you could ignore in the country’s political strategy.

Chief Anenih has never contested for any political office in Nigeria but has become the most talked about Politician in the country at least outside political office.

When you mention the name Anenih his opponents see him as the greatest threats to the country’s march to democracy especially if he had contributed to the defeat of ones preferred candidate in an election either for the Presidency or Governor or even leadership of the National Assembly.

His critics will always remind you of how he helped ‘sold out’ the mandate of Chief Moshood Abiola in the June 12 1993 Presidential Election. The election was annulled by the Judiciary or if you like the government that be at that time and Anenih was the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party [SDP] the party that produced Abiola as its Presidential Candidate, they however forgot that Anenih also contributed to the victory of SDP in that election .

They forgot that if the government was bent on annulling the election at that time there was nothing Anenih as the National Chairman of SDP could have done to stop it, if he wanted to stay alive and if he wanted to keep the country united. The crisis that followed the annulment of the June 12 election was already dividing the country along ethnic and Religious lines and all lovers of the country needed to do something to save the country and Anenih once again came up to show his love for the country.

His own state governor too Adams Oshiomhole tried to rubbish his political career by telling Edo people that Anenih was the cause of all their problems. The governor did that successfully and used it to win in all the local government areas at the last governorship election .

The crisis between Edo state governor Adams Oshiomhole and the chairman Board of Trustee of the Peoples Democratic Party [PDP] Chief Tony Anenih is just over the control of politics in Edo state.

Chief Anenih had actually helped Oshiomhole win his election petition at the tribunal in 2007 Anenih was able to do this by withdrawing PDP witnesses from the election petition tribunal and the appeals tribunal. All the PDP witnesses were loyal to Anenih and his political machinery in the state.

With his victory at the appeal court Oshiomhole naturally recognised Anenih’s role decided to compensate him in the formation of government.

In an all party executive council Oshiomhole requested chief Anenih to submit names for appointmnet as commissioners. Atleast three of Oshiomhole’s commissioners were nominees of Anenih. In fact on two occasions governor Oshiomhole publicly declared that Anenih was his leader who must be respected, he said he owed nobody no apology for the public declaration.

But the relationship between Anenih and Oshiomhole went sour during the Akoko edo re run election into the Edo state house of assembly. The rerun election into the Akoko Edo constituency 1, was ordered by the court of appeal when it ruled that the PDP candidate in the state house of assembly election Anselem Agbabi was not duly elected. So the crisis between Governor Oshiomhole and Chief Anenih was over the control of Edo politics.

Anenih further demonstrated his love for the people of Edo state and for all Nigerians after the 2012 governorship election in Edo state. Incumbent governor Oshiomhole won the elections in all the local government areas, despite the insults and abuses from governor Oshiomhole during the campaign period, Anenih told the PDP not to challenge the election in court. He reasoned that the time and the resources to be used by the governor to defend his election could actually be channeled to providing amenities for the people and given them dividends of democracy.

Anenih’s biggest undoing is that he is media shy, hardly talked to the press but very media friendly, his love for the media is so great that he insisted that one of his children must be a journalist.

It was in recognition of his ability to garner human and material resources that made the late General Musa Yar Adua who was then jostling for the Presidency appointed him National Campaign Director of his Presidential project.

One of the leaders of Action Congress of Nigeria [ACN] in Edo state Prince Joe Okojie who incidentally is from the same Edo Central with Anenih had this to say about Anenih shortly after the 2012 governorship election. At the election the PDP lost the election in Uromi, Anenih’s home town and he said ‘ I will not say that the Uromi people have disappointed him. Chief Anenih is our leader, our father, our elder statesman and he will continue to be as such, he has done his bit, we cannot underestimate or begin to relegate what chief Anenih has accomplished in the Nigeria political history. Like I have often said if chief Anenih was in the western world, what you call advanced countries he would have been likened to the likes of Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Karl Marx of this world, there would have been a school of thought in the school of political economy called ANENISM. So nobody can forget that. Chief Anenih hails from the minority within the minority and inside the minority. He is from Uzenema which is a minority in Arue, Arue is a minority in Uromi, Uromi is a minority in Edo state and Edo state is a minority in Nigeria, you can picture that, for a man to have come from that background and risen to where he got, where he got to in the Nigerian political arena, that is something worthy of praise and worthy of emulation, ‘

During his campaign trip to Edo state before the National Chairmanship election, PDP National chairman Dr Bamanga Tukur said Edo state and indeed Nigeria is lucky to have Anenih describing him as one of the best politicians in the country.

Chief Tony Anenih had contributed a great deal to the elections of all the Presidents in Nigeria from 1999 to the Present time . He has been very close to all the Presidents in Nigeria from Olusegun Obasanjo regime in 1999 to the present regime of President Goodluck Jonathan yet he has not used that position for personal aggrandizement. Non of his children has been involved in contract scandal or fuel subsidy scandal. Why should we not celebrate such a man.

Born in Uromi on 4th August 1933, Chief Anenih attended Government School, Uromi, Hendon and Scotland Yard Training School, United Kingdom, he was a Federal Government Scholar, Brom Shill Police College, Bosing Stke, Hampshire, United Kingdom International Police Academy, Washington DC USA. He was also at the Administrative and Staff College [ASCON], Badagry in 1975, He was appointed President Benin Chamber of Commerce, Mines and Agriculture 1978 to 1984.

The Iyasele of Esan land was state chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria [NPN] in the old Bendel state, National Chairman of the defunct SDP from 1991 to 1993 among others.



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