By Our Reporters
Eminent Nigerians, yesterday, mourned the demise of a former Chairman, Board of Trustees, BoT, of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, and erstwhile Minister of Works, Chief Tony Anenih, who died at the age of 85.
Anenih, popularly known as “Mr. Fix it,” owing to his political sagacity, died of an undisclosed ailment at the Cedar Crest Hospital, Abuja on Sunday.
Friends and political associates flocked his Abuja residence located at Sunrise Hills, Asokoro, to commiserate with his family shortly after his death became public knowledge.
When Vanguard visited his residence on Delta Crescent in Government Reserved Area, GRA, Benin-City, two security guards at the entrance said they were unaware of the demise of Anenih, who was the Iyasele of Esanland.
The situation was also the same at the Benin residence of his wife, Iyom Josephine Anenih.
In a telephone conversation, Mrs. Anenih, a former Minister of Women Affairs said she would only speak after the family had issued a statement.
Anenih’s son, Mr. Usolo Anenih, confirmed the demise of the former Minister.
However, the family in a statement signed by Anenih’s eldest son, Tony Anenih Jr, said: “Chief Anthony Anenih, is survived by many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. A beloved patriarch, he enjoyed God’s uncommon grace while alive. He served God and humanity with commitment. He also served his fatherland to the best of his ability. We will all miss him. But his legacies live on. Burial arrangements by the family will be announced subsequently.’’
Anenih was a retired Police Commissioner and a major player in the 16-year rule of the PDP.
Mohammed Abba Gana, former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory was one of the early callers at his Abuja home at the time of filing this report.
Those, who paid tributes to the late elder statesman, include President Muhammadu Buhari; Deputy Senate President, Sen Ike Ekweremadu; Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr. Yakubu Dogara; Edo State governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; Delta State governor, Sen Ifeanyi Okowa; National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Comrade Adams Oshiomhole; former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori; former Deputy National Chairman of Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chief Olabode George; ex-governor of Delta State, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan; Rivers State governor, Mr. Nyesom Wike and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
President Buhari in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina said Anenih was committed to the unity of Nigeria.
He said:”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, NPN, National Chairman of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, chieftain of the PDP, and a former Minister of Works. President Buhari affirms that across the political spectrum of Nigeria, Chief Anenih was known for his strong views on issues pertaining to the unity and stability of the nation.”
Dogara in his tributes said: “He was a distinguished and exemplary officer while he served in the Nigerian Police until his retirement as Deputy Commissioner of Police.’’
Writing on his Facebook page Ekweremadu said: “Chief Anineh contributed so much to the deepening of our democracy and setting the nation on the path of progress. Iyasele was a courageous man, and a man of few words, who meant whatever he said and said only what he meant.’’
Obaseki, in a statement by his Special Adviser, Media and Communication Strategy, Mr. Crusoe Osagie, said Anenih lived a fulfilled life.
His words: “While we agree that he lived a fulfilled life, we are pained that his wealth of experience and advise which are needed as we move towards 2019 will be missed. He was a father to all in the state. The state would mourn his demise and miss his fatherly role in bringing people together.”
Reacting to Anenih’s demise, Okowa said:”I am deeply saddened by the death of elder statesman and former Chairman Board of Trustees of the PDP, Chief Tony Anenih (CFR), who passed on at the age of 85.
“He was a committed patriot, an astute politician and a former Minister of Works who worked to better the lots of his people and Nigerians in general.’’
In his reaction, Oshiomhole said: “He was indeed a political colossus.
Politics may have separated us, but nothing affected our personal relationship. Whatever public disagreement we might have had, I am consoled that we both reconciled at the church altar after he announced his retirement from partisan politics. We may have disagreed in terms of methodology, but there is no denying that deep in his heart was a commitment to see the progress of the nation at large and his native Edo in particular.’’
On his part, George said: “Baba has done his bit for the country, for his people and the unity of Africa. He is a politician of repute, who cannot be rivaled. He died at a critical stage when the nation needs him. He doesn’t mince words. He was a great man.”
The PDP in a statement by its National Publicity Secretary, Mr. Kola Ologbodiyan, said: “Anenih, who was known in the political circle as ‘Mr. Fix it’, owing to his ability to find solutions to very knotty political and governance issues, remains a colossus with an unparalleled array of legacies.”