Chief A. A. Anenih: There was a Leader! Being a tribute by Edo Forum of Patriots!
“When beggars die there are no comets seen; The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.” – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar.
It wasn’t the “ides of March”, neither was it a star lit night when wise men came from the east, but the moon suddenly shone at near dusk. His passing on to glory resonated across the political landscape of Nigeria, on that serene Sunday evening. The news media boomed with narratives of speculations, confirmations and denials; even attributed to him, denouncing his own demise. The nation’s highest authority reacted in less than 30mins with a statement. So it became real… Chief Anthony Anenih had gone to be with the Lord. And of course social media literally “crashed” with images and narratives of the very distinguished son of Esan land, Edo State, Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih, The Iyasele of Esan land. He was called “The Leader”, by all who knew him, or knew of him. Political associates. Political sons/daughters. Political foes. Interest groups. The media. The intelligentsia. Academia. Yes, he was the Leader. He bestrode the Nigerian political landscape like the proverbial colossus and his footprints were indelibly etched on the sands of it. His alter-nick name “Mr. Fix-it” was self-evident… Chief Tony Anenih would “fix” anything that was fixable. Chief Anenih could “take the stars out of the sky for you, stop the rain from falling if you asked him to”. There are countless attestations. That was The Leader.
Even as we mourn today, the void already has us ensconced in mindless trepidation of the future of political directions in our dear Edo State and our dear country, Nigeria. Nay his beneficiaries. Chief touched countless Edo indigenes from all walks of life, and he will forever be remembered as one of the last of “The Mohicans” who shaped the tide and trajectory of politics in Edo State, the South South and Nigeria as a whole. His touch went beyond Edo State to all nooks and crannies of Nigeria. He was one time Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Peoples’ Democratic Party, PDP, as well as Minister of Works during the Obasanjo regime. Having retired from the Nigeria police Force as an Assistant Commissioner of Police in the 70s, his foray into politics hit the limelight in the 2nd republic and subsequently in the short-lived SDP and NRC era when he emerged as national chairman of the SDP. In all of these, he is remembered for his leadership and ability to resolve knotty issues which bother on statehood and the development of the Nigerian political system. It is arguable that Chief Anenih is the foremost contributor to the growth and development of this democratic dispensation which is the longest in Nigeria’s fragile democratic history. He was a Leader.
Leaving behind a large family of biological and adopted sons and daughters, the legacy of Chief Anenih will surely motivate a great many Edo sons and daughters to unprecedented heights. Many are already governors, ministers, party leaders, leading professors as well as businessmen. His capacity for mentoring endeared him to all. When he presented his memoirs in a book last year and announced his retirement from party politics, he noted that he would not retire from his “Edo family” and his immediate family. He dotted over his family, leading the pack like a lion in the tribe, guided and guarded. Our hearts are heavy, but we are consoled by his legacy. We are inspired by his ability. We are guided by his vision. May his soul rest in peace, in the bosom of the Almighty. Sadly… there was a Leader.
Interim Management Committee