Veteran politician and former chairman of PDP board of trustees, Chief Tony Anenih is dead.
Anenih, known as Mr ‘Fix it’ in the political arena, was said to have been ill for an undisclosed period of time. He died at the Cedar Crest Hospital, Abuja, at the age of 85.
Born on August 4, 1933, in Uzenema-Arue in Uromi, Anenih joined the Nigeria Police Force in 1951 in Benin City.
He attended the police college in Ikeja, and was selected for further training in the Bramshill Police College, Basingstoke, England, in 1966 and the International Police Academy, Washington DC, in 1970.
He served as a police orderly to the first Governor General of Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe.
He worked as an instructor in various police colleges, and in 1975 was assigned to the Administrative Staff College, Lagos. He retired from the police as a Commissioner, after which he joined politics.
He was State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria between 1981 and 1983
He was the National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party from 1992 and 1993 and was also a member of the Constitutional Conference in 1994.
Anenih was a member of the then unregistered Peoples Democratic Movement founded by the late former Chief of General Staff, Gen. Musa Yar’Adua.
He later joined the Peoples Democratic Party and was a minister under the regime of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.
Anenih, who was better known as “Mr Fix it” because of his closeness to the corridors of power and his political dexterity, was later made the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP.
Reacting to his death, President Muhammadu Buhari extended his condolences to the Anenih family and attested to the fact that the deceased lived a life of service.
Buhari’s condolence message was contained in a statement made available to journalists by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina.
The statement read, “President Buhari also commiserates with the government and people of Edo State and the Peoples Democratic Party on the passing of their illustrious son and former Chairman, Board of Trustees.
“As a frontline figure in the annals of our country’s political history, the President attests that Chief Anenih lived a life of service, as State Chairman of the National Party of Nigeria, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, chieftain of the PDP, and a former Minister of Works.”
Also, the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki; and Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, have expressed grief over the death of Anenih.
Saraki, while reacting to Anenih’s death via his social media accounts, said the PDP chieftain would be dearly missed.
He wrote, “Chief Tony Anenih was a consummate leader statesman who played several defining roles throughout Nigeria’s democracy. He will be remembered for his great patriotism. And his insight into national issues. He will be dearly missed. Rest in peace, Chief.”
Ekweremadu also expressed “deep grief” over the demise Anenih, describing him as a pan-Nigerian and patriot who served the nation to the best of his ability.
On his Facebook page and Twitter handle, @iamekweremadu, he said, “Chief Anenih contributed so much to deepening our democracy and setting the nation on the path of progress at the end of many decades of military rule.”
The PDP said Anenih lived a fulfilled life but regretted that his death had robbed the party and the nation “another experienced man whose love for the country was beyond description.”
The National Chairman of the party, Prince Uche Secondus, who spoke with our correspondent on the telephone, noted that the nation would miss the late politician.
He said, “His death came to me as a rude shock. Though he was advanced in age, as human beings, we wanted him to be around us for long.
“This is because we loved him. He was a nationalist who wanted the best for the country. We would miss him. We pray to God Almighty to grant him eternal peace.”
He said that the PDP would immortalise him.
In his reaction, a former Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan, said the death of the former minister was painful.
Uduaghan, in a statement by his Media aide, Monoyo Edon, said Anenih’s death was a painful reminder that the pool of Nigeria’s committed nationalist leaders was depleting.
He said, “Anenih was like a father-figure to me privately and on my political sojourn. He gave me the privilege of his listening ears in troubled and in good times.
“I shall forever cherish the very good memories we shared together, he was my run-to adviser who threw his doors open to me, even at short notice. I generously tapped from his wealth of experience and I am the better for it today.”
Also, the Edo State Government commiserated with the Anenih family over the death of its patriarch.
Governor Godwin Obaseki, in a statement on Sunday evening, said that the entire state was saddened by the loss.
Obaseki described the late politician as a leader who made immense contributions to the development of the state and the country.
Similarly, a former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, described the late PDP leader as a “political strategist” whose death had brought to an end a remarkable era in Nigerian politics.
Ibori, in a statement issued by his media aide, Tony Eluemunor, said Anenih was a depository of political wisdom, a library of contemporary Nigerian political history and the nation’s foremost political tactician for decades.
The Governor of Delta State, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, said, “Through his purposeful leadership and development strides, the late Anenih influenced the dualisation of the Benin-Asaba Road, Benin-Warri Road and the Benin Bypass Road, which brought about unprecedented development to the Niger Delta region.”