By Emma Aziken
Pity the lot of Chief Tony Anenih last Wednesday as the local politics of attrition between him and Governor Adams Oshiomhole took centre stage in the Senate chambers on that day.
It was a contest that the most zealot of the famous leaderâ€™s followers would not have bargained for. As the battle ended in defeat for Anenih ,Â Senator Yisa Braimoh one of the two Senators aligned with Anenih sneaked out and looked like a thoroughly embarrassed man
Braimoh had in the course of the debate on the report on the nomination of the Edo State representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) protested what he said were jeers from some Senators.
Mark in response told him that he had no right to protest at such jeers, a ruling that forced Braimoh to tender apologies for the jeers poured at him!
Perhaps, no Senator had suffered that kind of humiliation since 2000 when Senator Chuba Okadigbo menacingly tongue lashed Senator Omololu Meroyi, one of his strident political enemies on the floor over his dressing! On that day, at the peak of the Okadigbo must go crusade, Meroyi wearing a French suit had caught the eye of Senator Okadigbo seated on the dais. â€œStand up,â€ Senator Okadigbo pointed at the Ondo born Senator.
As an unsuspecting Meroyi stood up, Okadigbo with a voice laced in mockery said â€œIs that how a Senator should dress?â€ and quickly told him to sit down before Meroyi could say anything again.
Senator Braimohâ€™s degradation last Wednesday was not on the point of dressing. Rather it was over his opposition to the approval of Mr. Omorodion as the Edo State representative on the board of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC).
Braimoh like Senator Odion Ugbesia also from Edo State were against the nomination which was made by Governor Oshiomhole.
The third Senator from the State, Senator Ehigie Uzamere from Edo South, the only oil producing senatorial district in Edo State was in full support of the nominee.
It was a battle of sorts over control of the politics of Edo State. Uzamere had successfully moved the Senate in July 2009 to stop the nomination of the first nominee made by Governor Oshiomhole, Mr. Jude Ise-Idehen, a serving Action Congress member of the Edo State House of Assembly.
Uzamereâ€™s contention then was that he was not consulted on the nomination which he saw as a means of empowering the opposition AC to the detriment of the PDP. Anenih, who was at that time in good relationship with Oshiomhole was understood to have backed the nomination. However, at the Senate chamber, the nomination was thrown out in a session presided over by Senator David Mark.
Months after and with Anenih and Oshiomhole now in a bitter political feud, the nomination of Omorodion for the same position did not seem to change the tide against Anenih in the David Mark Senate.
Omorodion, an AC member nominated at the behest of Governor Oshiomhole was opposed on the Senate floor by Ugbesia and Braimoh who both claimed now that they were not consulted. Uzamere on the other hand claimed to have been consulted and vigorously canvassed the approval of the nominee.
In normal times the Senate tradition giving two of the three Senators from a State the edge on any issue concerning a nomination from their State could have helped Ugbesia and Braimoh. But then the issue regarding Anenih is not normal in the Senate.
At the crux of Anenihâ€™s problems many Senators claimed is his problem with Senator David Mark. Few days to the June 2007 Senate leadership contest during the last days of the Obasanjo presidency, Anenih alongside other PDP bigwigs including then party chairman, Dr. Ahmadu Ali had told PDP Senators-Elect at a meeting in the presidential villa that David Mark and Ike Ekweremadu were the partyâ€™s choices for the office of Senate President and Deputy Senate President.
Some of the Senators-Elect it was learnt grumbled but with the leader having decreed the enactment they could do little. Senator-Elect Yisa Braimoh was by some accounts, David Markâ€™s campaign coordinator, hosting meetings to help Markâ€™s candidacy.
Following Obasanjoâ€™s exit on May 27 and just before the inauguration of the Senate, Anenih reportedly backed out of the Mark campaign. He reportedly canvassed the candidacy of Senator-Elect George Akume. The South-South caucus reportedly rejected his order leaving only the three Edo Senators, to wit, Braimoh, Ugbesia and Uzamere in a fix. The trio were indeed the only three Senators from the South who voted for Akume to become Senate President.
It was a betrayal that Mark may never have forgiven! So when he had opportunity to give it to Anenih and Braimoh, he served his portion of revenge red hot. The NDDC report had been tabled to be debated last Tuesday but for some undisclosed reasons, it was withdrawn. It was alleged by some that the Senate leadership wanted the humiliation of Anenih to be carried on to the next day when Senate proceedings are carried live!
With victory still sweet in his mouth, Senator Mark the following day while opening a public hearing on the bill promoted by the Central Bank of Nigeria to establish the Assets Management Company of Nigeria could not but relish a just desert when he said:
â€œCBN, you are the god-father, even though god-fatherism has been abolished in politics particularly in some of the states in the South-South.â€