Nigeria penultimate week lost one of its most glamorous timber and calibre politicians after a brief illness on October 28, 2018. Anthony Akhakoh Anenih was born in Uzenema-Arue in Uromi. He joined the Nigeria Police in Benin City. At home he obtained his secondary school qualification. He attended the Police College in Ikeja and was selected for further training at the Bramshill Police College, Basinstoke, England, in 1966 and the International Police Academy, Washington in 1970. He served as a police orderly to the first Governor-General, Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He worked as an instructor in various police colleges and in 1975 was assigned to Administrative Staff College (ASCON) Lagos. He retired from the police as a Commissioner of Police.
He was State Chairman of the defunct National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1981 and 1983 helping Dr. Samuel Ogbemudia become civilian governor of former Bendel State. He was National Chairman of defunct Social Democratic Party (S.D.P.) from 1992-1993 when he assisted in the election of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola as president. He was at one time a member of the Constitutional Conference in 1994.
Anenih was a member of the PDM in April 2002 when he transferred to the Peoples Democratic Party (P.D.P.) He was said to have masterminded the April 26, 2002 declaration of President at the International Conference Centre, Abuja. He was later deputy national coordinator of Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Organisation in 1999 and 2003 elections.
Chief Anenih was appointed Works and Housing Minister in 1999 and later chairman of Board of Trustees of PDP.
In October 2009, a senate committee issued a report on their investigtaion into the use of more than N30 billion in the transport sector during Obasanjo administration. The committee recommended prosecution of former minister including Anenih syaing he had awarded contracts without budgetary provision.
In October 2009, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) released a list of customers with major debts to five recently audited banks. It reportd that through Mettle Energy and Gas Limited, Chief Tony Anenih and Osehor Asemota owed N2,065 million.
Tony Anenih denied the allegation. He died at Cedacrest Hospital in Abuja on Sunday, Ocrtober 28, 2018 following what his family called a protracted battle with an undisclosed ailment. He was aged 85.
Anenih has been a politician all his life and made sure to insert into the national conversations at critical moments in the life of this nation. It is why he was named Mr. Fix it. He allegedly fixed election fun, allegedly fixed votes, for whatever political party, he belonged to, fixed supports for presidents, fixed national budget and fixed mood of the nation. Fixing was his life.
Chief Anenih’s life was archetypal lesson in public service and leadership as its best. He had to himself a life full of accomplishments and meritorious services to the local and national communities. He was also a member of Obasanjo’s Kitchen Cabinet, always willing to take on political opponents and often boasting that he was untouchable. He has a large than life personality and enjoyed taking political opponents to the cleaners. He cherished the murky world of politics like perhaps no one else of his era.
As the PDP’s political fortunes and popularity began to wane nationwide so did Anenih’s. Signs of Anenih’s dwindling political visible in 2015 when in spite of throwing the kitchen sink at the opposition APC, Anenih could not inspire Jonathan and the PDP to presidential victory.
Perhaps Anenih’s worse political defeat and most glaring inability to fix things as he loves was evident when Adams Oshiomhole seized Edo State, annihilating the PDP and its array of godfathers.
At the time of his death, Anenih’s political scalps, accumulated over the years on the stomp, stood out as symbols of the man. They had also left him battle weary.
May his soul rest in perfect peace. Amen.