By Omotilewa Quadri
President Muhammadu Buhari on Sunday extended his condolences to the Anenih family on the death of its patriarch and elder statesman, Chief Anthony Anenih.
A former Minister of Works and People’s Democratic Party (PDP) Board of Trustees chairman, Anenih died on Sunday at the age of 85.
Anenih, who also served as Board Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) from December 20, 2012 to May 29, 2015, died on Sunday evening at Cedarcrest Hospital, Abuja, where he was receiving treatment for an undisclosed ailment.
Born in Edo State, Anenih was one of the most influential politicians of his era. He was nicknamed ‘Mr Fix It’ for his ability to manipulate the electoral process.
Anenih was a state chairman of the then ruling National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1981 and 1983. He is believed to have played a major role in the controversial 1983 general elections including in his home state of Bendel (now Edo State) where he helped Samuel Ogbemudia to victory.
Anenih was also the national chairman of the Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1993, the platform under which Chief Moshood Abiola won the June 12, 1993 presidential election. The election was annulled by military dictator Ibrahim Babangida. Abiola was later imprisoned by the Sani Abacha dictatorship with many of his supporters accusing Anenih of betraying the June 12 cause.
Upon return to democracy in 1999, Anenih was also a founding member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and was appointed Works Minister by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.
In October 2009, a senate committee issued a report of its investigation into the use of more than N300 billion in the transport sector during the Obasanjo administration. The committee recommended prosecution of 13 former Ministers, including Anenih, saying he had awarded contracts without budgetary provision.
However, in November 2009, the Senate indefinitely shelved consideration of the report.
The late politician was married to Josephine Anenih, who was the first National Woman Leader of PDP from 1999-2005. She also served as the Minister of Women Affairs under President Jonathan.
President Buhari’s condolence message was contained in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina.
Buhari also commiserated with the government and people of Edo State and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the passing of their illustrious son and former BOT chairman.
He described the deceased as a frontline figure in the annals of the country’s political history.
The president said Anenih lived a life of service, as State Chairman of the defunct NPN, National Chairman of SDP, chieftain of the PDP, and a former Minister of Works.
He also affirmed that across the political spectrum of Nigeria, late Anenih was known for his strong views on issues pertaining to the unity and stability of the nation.
The President, therefore, prayed almighty God to grant Chief Anenih’s soul eternal rest and comfort all who mourned the octogenarian.