By Stephen Ubanna
Tony Anenih, a former minister of works under President Olusegun Obasanjo and Chairman, Board of Trustees, BOT, of the People’s Democratic party, PDP, may have had a premonition of his death on his 85th birthday celebration at Abuja on Saturday, August 4, 2018. This is evident going by the way he spoke to dignitaries on the occasion.
Anenih had complained about his degenerating health, stressing that the 85th birthday celebration became necessary because” his health and current state of mind” caused by the death of his first wife, Patricia and his son, Eugene Anenih, who incidentally was the Chief Executive Officer,, of Nova Finance and Securities Ltd, one of the Companies in the NOVA group, in” quick succession”.
Signs for his death started about two weeks ago, when the former minister was said to have sustained injury why taking his bath. He was said to have been rushed to the prestigeous Ceda Crest Hospital at Abuja, because of the injury and shock for treatment. The family may not haveconsidered it a major injury to fly him abroad for proper medication. He never survived it in the Abuja Hospital as he died on Sunday, October 28, 2018.The Independent Newspaper, which broke the News was said to have linked the source of their story to Akin , one of his sons.
Prior to his death, he was said to have survived an eight hour heart surgery which was carried out in a United Kingdom, UK, Hospital, in 2016. There were rumours then that he had died but that was how far the rumour mongers could go as he emerged stronger and healthy.
Many believe that the Edo state born politician, who retired from active politics about two years ago lived a fulfilled life. He started his professional career as a police officer, in 1951 and rose through the ladder to the enviable rank of Commissioner of Police before his retirement in 1980.
His interest in politics may have started when he served as a police Orderly to Late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Nigeria’s first Governor General and the then leader of the National Council of Nigeria and Cameroun, NCNC, between October 1st, 1960 and 1966. He may have parted way with the” great Zik of Africa”, who was the leader of the then defunct Nigeria Peoples Party, NPP, as he pitched tent with the then President Shehu Sagari led National Party of Nigeria, NPN.
He was elected the old Bendel state Chairman of the party in the state, a position he held between 1981 and 1983. within the short period, he served as the party Chairman in the state, he facilitated the election of Samuel Ogbemudia, as the elected governor of the state in 1983. He was ,however, forced to quit the position on December31, 1983, following the military Coup that brought the then Major Genera l Muhammadu Buhari, and who incidentally is the country’s current President, elected under the platform of the All Progressive Congress, APC, in 2015. His phenomenal rise in politics saw him as the National Chairman of the defunct Social Democratic Party, SDP, from 1992 and 1993, and assisted in the election of late M.K.O. Abiola as the country’s elected President, which was annulled by the then military President ,Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida, a retired Army General.
The return of the country into Democratic governance in 1999, saw Anenih playing a key role in the new political dispensation. He was amember of the Late Musa Yar’Adua, sponsored People’s Democratic movement, PDM, which was inherited by Atiku Abubakar, a former Vice President and now Presidential Candidate of the PDP. He was said to have transferred to the PDP, like other big wigs of the party , on the advice of Atiku, who had already defected by virtue of being a serving Vice President in a PDP government. The Edo state born politician, regarded in political circles, as ”Mr. Fix it”. was said to have master minded the April 26, 2002, declaration of Obasanjo at the International Conference center, as the Presidential Candidate of the party against the more popular Candidate, late Alex EEkwueme, and who incidentally was a former Vice President in the second Republic and a founding member of the Party.
It would be recalled that the former police Commissioner, turned politician, was said to have served as the deputy national coordinator of the Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Organisation in the 1999 and 2003 elections. He made Edo, Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom and Cross River states, a safe region for Obasanjo . He was said to have single handedly installed two PDP governors in the state.
It is not surprising why his death is mourned across the political divide in the country. Buhari, who had commiserated with the Edo state government and the PDP, in general, on the passing of their illustrious son and former Chairman of the party BOT, described him ”asa frontline figure in the annals of Nigeria political history”. The President noted that ” across the political spectrum of the country, Chief Anenih was known for his strong views on issues pertaining to the unity and stability of the nation”. He prayed ”Almighty God to grant his Soul eternal rest and comfort all who mourn the Octogenarian”. femi Adesina, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Madia and Publicity said that much in a Statement.
Bukola Sarki, the Senate President said the late PDP Chieftain would be ”dearly missed”. In a Statement, Saraki described the late Anenih ”as a consummate leader and Statesman who played several defining roles throughout Nigeria’s Democracy”, noting that” he will be remembered for his great patriotism and insight into national issues”.
Uche Secondus, National Chairman, of the PDP, said the late Anenih ”lived a fulfilled life”’. In a voice laden with emotion, Secondus regretted that his death had robbed the party and the nation ”another experienced man whose love for the country was beyond description”. The nation will miss the politician, he said. He disclosed that the” party would immortalise him” but how soon that would be remain to be seen.
Ahmed Bola Tinubu, the National leader of the APC, who could not hide his feelings over the late Anenih, described him as a ”leader who was absolutely committed to the unity and cohesion of the country”. The APC National leader disclosed that the late politician worked for the upliftment of Uromi, his home town and Edo state, as he worked for the ”growth and development of Nigeria”. ”He gave so much to party politics and Democracy in the country”, Tinubu said.
Iyon Josephine Anenih, a Lawyer and a widow of the late politician was full of tears as she could not talk to Journalists.