Cat and mouse: Anenih and Atiku again

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By Emmanuel Aziken, Political Editor

The relationship between Atiku Abubakar and Anthony Anenih since the death of their political leader, Shehu Yar‘adua has largely been likened to the mutual distrust between two siblings in contention for their father’s jewel. Anenih’s denouncement of the patronage of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM on Monday raises the issue once again.

The renunciation was unambiguous. In a statement released on his behalf on Monday, Chief Anthony Anenih, the erstwhile chairman of the board of trustees of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP delinked himself to the news report of his appointment as chairman of the Elders Committee of the Peoples Democratic Movement, PDM.

“Chief Anenih was not in Abuja when the meeting was held.  If such decision was reached, those who took the decision would have either consulted with him prior to the decision or briefed him after the decision was taken,” the statement issued by his personal assistant, Barrister Peter Abulu revealed.

The PDM is the political platform framed by the late political master strategist, Major-General Shehu Musa Yar‘adua which was also the biggest political organ that metamorphosed into the PDP.

Among its leading chieftains at the onset of the fourth republic were Anenih, Atiku Abubakar, the late Chuba Okadigbo, Roland Owie and several others who became leading lights of the PDP after the party’s triumphant run in the 1999 elections.

The unity of the group, however, took a battering upon the discord between President Olusegun Obasanjo and his then deputy and the acclaimed successor to Shehu Yar‘Adua, Atiku Abubakar.

Anenih and Atiku

Several elements in the group stuck with Atiku and many of them suffered on account of that relationship. Chief Anenih, however, who could not ordinarily be said to be a political protégée of Atiku, however, took another path. At the heat of the battle with Atiku, Anenih was reported to have sided with the former president in the battle against his vice-president.

As Anenih became Obasanjo’s Man Friday, the coerciveness that the PDM was once famed for inevitably burst leading to its members going their separate ways.

Though several loyalists of Atiku remained faithful to him and moved with him in the course of his political adventures through the Action Congress and back to the PDP, a few others remained in the PDP.

Given the once famed invincibility of the group it is not surprising that ahead of the 2015 presidential election that the group has now become the object of interest among political gladiators.

Atiku, it is reported, has been working hard to reactivate the PDM machinery across the country.

It was as such not surprising that the memorial lecture of the late Shehu Yar‘Adua in Abuja last weekend turned into an opportunity for members of the PDM to strategise ahead of the future.

An otherwise innocuous news report on Monday had it that Anenih who was not at the Yar‘adua memorial but in Otueke, Bayelsa State for the burial of President Goodluck Jonathan’s brother had been elected chairman of the Elders Committee of the PDM.

The rapidity with which Anenih delinked himself from the position inevitably threw open his inclination towards the 2015 contest.

“I can tell you authoritatively that if any such decision was taken, he was not consulted on it; and as this official reaction is being made, Chief Anenih has already contacted those who attended the meeting and they told him that no such decision was reached,” Anenih’s aide disclosed.

The swiftness with which the taciturn PDP chieftain dissociated himself from the PDM ‘elders committee’ was enough to tell anyone that he is not in the same ship with Atiku in the journey towards 2015.

Prince Tonye Princewill, chairman of the media committee of the PDM played down the issue in an SMS response to Vanguard saying: “I am not aware that we have an elders committee, but I am aware of him as an elder and leader of the PDM.”

Remarkably, Anenih has largely looked unperturbed towards media reports on his involvement in the contest for the chairmanship of the board of trustees of the PDP, a position he held until Obasanjo turned on him in 2007.

If truly Anenih is in keen contest for the chairmanship of the board of trustees of the PDP it would not be surprising for him to dissociate himself from Atiku given the pending showdown between Atiku and President Jonathan over the PDP ticket.

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