By Emeka Obasi
The atmosphere smells sweeter across the River Niger divide following Senator Anyim Pius Anyim’s emergence as a Presidential contender. There are indications that this declaration is igniting robust attention up North.
I am particularly animated by this bold move by this equally bold man. Make no mistakes about it, Anyim Pius Anyim (APA) has not come out as an Igbo candidate. The former Senate President has offered himself as a unifying force even as he proudly acknowledges his roots.
There have been calls for power to return to the South at the end of President Muhammadu Buhari’s tenure in 2023. Those who preach equity also think the Igbo deserve a prime position at Aso Villa. Curiously, the candidates were not forthcoming.
Now Anyim has blazed the trail. There is this saying that it is the horse in front that dictates the pace for others to follow. I expect more aspirants to surface from all the parties that dot the polity. And I am glad those who said Ndigbo have not shown interest are watching.
APA’s huge frame is intimidating. I wonder why this feature did not ring a bell in the ears of those who thought he could be pushed around as Senate President in 2000. At 39, and largely inexperienced, Anyim was able to keep the Upper House away from Aso Villa accountancy.
If anyone tried to bulldoze their way through the legislature, one sure obstacle was Anyim. In 2002,the Senate under his watch was ready to impeach President Olusegun Obasanjo. Later in the same year, he suspended Arthur Nzeribe over allegations of fraud.
It takes a lion heart to look Obasanjo straight in the face. It takes a tiger to tackle Nzeribe whose traditional title in Oguta has to do with the wild cat. Many do not know that Anyim hails from Ishiagu in Ebonyi State. Ishiagu means Tiger Head.
Obasanjo partied with Chuba Okadigbo at night and plotted his downfall the next day. Okadigbo was Anyim’s predecessor. Obasanjo adopted Adolphus Wabara as son and disowned him in a jiffy. Wabara was Senate President after Anyim.
Obasanjo, a Civil War Commander was able to counter coup plotters in Sao Tome after they toppled President Dr Manezes who was attending a summit in Abuja. The Nigerian leader flew to Sao Tome, ordered the military to step down and restored their leader.
Nzeribe, a former Air Force cadet, caused the downfall of Ghanaian Head of State, Gen. Arthur Ankrah in 1968. He was so controversially popular that many politicians and generals held him in awe.
Anyim held his ground as Senate President and refused to be bullied by the duo. Much later out of power, Anyim said he was largely misunderstood by Obasanjo all through the impeachment threat.
Anyim did not allow his position to be undermined by the judiciary. Justice Samuel Wilson Egbo-Egbo who turned the law upside down in the abduction of Anambra governor, Chris Ngige, was floored when he tried to pull his legal muscle.
Egbo-Egbo was warned that standing against anti graft proceedings in the Senate could send him to confiment. The Abuja High Court judge was eventually sacked by the National Judicial Commission in 2004.
It takes a bold man to withstand such gargantuan opposition. Outside power, Anyim was also bold enough to lead 41 eminent Nigerians who in January 2010, urged President Umaru Yar’adua to transmit a letter of his health challenges to the legislature, to deepen democracy.
After working with President Goodluck Jonathan as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) between 2011 and 2015, Anyim went back to strategise. He is ready for the big job and has come out, with no holds barred.
“We have less than 18 months to the next elections and I feel the time is ripe to indicate my interest”, Anyim said in defence of his nascent ambition.
He also has no skeleton in his cupboard. ” I have no charges of any sort in any court anywhere in on earth”, Anyim pointed out stressing that his presence at the EFCC office was voluntary when he was told someone mentioned him in the course of investigations.
I am glad Anyim loves sports, the only field where Nigerians agree to agree. In 2001, I was invited to the Senate President’s Cup which he sponsored. Enugu State won the trophy after a classy display of soccer in Abuja.
Anyim is a true Nigerian. He served in Sokoto and will be surprised to find the acronym APA in the South-West. There is a town in the Badagry area called Apa. Veering off Gbaji Junction, Apa is on the same route with Sawa, Goboze, Igbobele, Kankon and more venture will take one to Abia.
Anyim is a lawyer, has served in the executive and once headed the legislature. He is the kind of leader that will make things happen, for experience means a lot. And for an Igbo man who believes there is something special about Nigeria, this move is timely.