Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih celebrated his 83rd birthday on August 4, 2016, few months after he was rumoured to have died in a London hospital. Peter Uzoho examines the life of this elder statesman whose immense contribution to the growth of the country cannot be forgotten in a hurry
Man is always the adversary of another. But unfortunately, Mother Nature, most times, does not concur with the wishes of men for or against another, thus leaving them to flounder in indignation and disappointment.
Recently, Nigerians woke up one morning, after their sound sleep and were greeted with news from the social media that Chief Tony Anenih died in a London hospital. The news which filtered in on May 4, 2016, few months before his 83rd birthday, had it that the elder statesman slumped during breakfast in his private house at Durban Broadway, London and was rushed to hospital where he was rumoured to have died.
However, to silence and shame his enemies; relieve his fans of the shock, and douse the tension generated by the unfounded rumour, the widely-admired Anenih popularly called ‘Mr. Fix It’ by his admirers, whose life and death lie in no man’s hand but God, strongly refuted the report as he bounces in good health.
“If I am dead, will I be talking to you? I am in London; I am alive and enjoying myself”, Anenih said from London. “I am not going to issue any press release to debunk the rumour. God will punish them, and I believe that they will die before me,” he added.
But while death is inevitable and the road to all mortals, why would people preoccupy themselves in wishing another dead before their appointed time?
However, being a man with high sense of understanding and maturity, Anenih has refused to be ruffled with such evil rumour on his life. As a wise gentle man, he has obviously resolved to let nature take its cause on the matter.
As a member of the Nigeria’s political echelon, Anenih remains fearless and courageous. He is steadfast and strong-willed, and does not hesitate to air his views with all sense of candour, on any national issue.
Anenih means many things to many people. In some quarters, he is regarded as an inimitable leader and compassionate giver. Others describe him as a consummate politician, master tactician and strategist.
Born on August 4, 1933 at Uzenema-Arua, Uromi, Edo State, Anthony Akhakon Anenih joined the Nigeria Police Force in Benin City in the year 1951. After obtaining his secondary school qualification, he attended the Police College in Ikeja, Lagos State, and was among the lucky individuals selected for further training in the Bram Shill Police College, Basingstoke, England in 1966 and the International Police Academy, Washington DC in 1970
He was the police orderly to the first indigenous Governor-General of Nigeria, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He also worked as an instructor in various Nigeria’s police colleges, and in the year 1975, he was assigned to the Administrative Staff College of Nigeria (ASCON), in Lagos.
Anenih retired from the Nigerian Police after holding office as a Commissioner of Police (CO). After his retirement from the police, Anenih joined politics, and became the State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1981 and 1983. It was under his watch as the State Chairman that Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia was elected as a civilian Governor of Bendel State, though the administration was short-lived due the military takeover by General Muhammadu Buhari in December, 1983.
Having been instrumental in the formation of a new political party at the time, the Social Democratic Party (SDP), Tony Aninih became its National Chairman from 1992 to 1993. It under his chairmanship, that late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, was coasting home to victory in the Presidential election. The election was nullified by then military dictator, General Ibrahim Bagangida.
He was appointed a member of the Constitutional Conference in 1994, a conference saddled with the task of discussing a way forward for Nigeria. He was a member of Peoples Democratic Movement (PDM) until early 2002.
Anenih joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in April 2002, and was one of the brains behind the April 26, 2002 declaration of President Olusegun Obasanjo at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He served as the Deputy National Coordinator of Olusegun Obasanjo’s Campaign Organisation in the years 1999 and 2003 national elections. In 1999, Aninih was appointed Minister of Works and Housing by President Olusegun Obasanjo. He later became the Chairman, Board of Trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
Since Anenih’s entry into the politics of Nigeria till date, he has been moving from one sensitive position to another. This no doubt, is because of his wealth of experience and knowledge in matters of the nation. Even as Edo, his own state, being controlled by the All Progressives Congress (APC), his relevance in Edo politics has never been threatened or undermined, as he is being consulted by his people whenever the need arises.
Anenih occupies a pride of place in Nigeria. He is one of the voices that are sought to be heard in times of emergency. He is one of the God-fathers of the PDP, whose core values, beliefs, principles, goals and aspirations drive the actions of all members of the party. His selfless service to both the party and the nation is never forgotten as well-meaning Nigerians team up every year to join in wishing him well during his birthday celebrations.
On August 4, 2016, Anenih, hale and hearty, celebrated his 83rd birthday; an occasion which served his enemies right as they buried their faces in shame. Accompanying the ceremony were wishes from eminent Nigerians, among whom, the immediate past President of Nigeria, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
Jonathan, while congratulating Anenih during his 83rd birthday, described the elder statesman as “a great asset to the country”. In a one-paged congratulatory message, Jonathan commended him for his “wisdom, patriotism and time-honoured commitment to the strengthening of democracy and national growth.
“I join your family and numerous admirers around the country to wish you more productive years in your determination to see our great country progress in peace and prosperity,” Jonathan said.
Anenih is happily married with children.