PDP BOT, ANENIH AND THE TASKS AHEAD
Chief Anthony Akhakon Anenih is “the man of the moment” in the politics of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) by virtue of his emergence as Chair of the party’s Board of Trustees (BoT) at its (Board’s) last meeting held on Monday, February 25, 2013, in the Banquet Hall of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja.
But as associates and followers clink the wine glasses to celebrate his emergence, Anenih, the man who is popularly referred to as “Leader”, has continued to relate with the development calmly. His emergence has not gone into his head such as to make him become unusually flippant and garrulous.
His peculiarity as “a man of few words but great actions” is more than ever helping to explain his characteristic inscrutability in the cosmos of politics, which has been his forte and devotion in the last thirty-five years. He is not your run-of-the-mill politician whose next moves are easily predictable by what he or she says.
This mystique has been deployed by him in quietly formulating strategies and implementing them to deal with knotty issues. And when and where he had failed in the past, this niche had helped him to rebound.
His imprimaturs were evident in the presidential power politics that produced the Olusegun Obasanjo presidency in 1999 and 2003, the late President Umaru Yar’Adua presidency in 2007 and the 2011 presidential election that produced President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
It was in 2002, in the build-up to Obasanjo’s re-election in 2003, that the capacity of Anenih as a master strategist was greatly tested and unleashed full-blown on the process due to the political brinkmanship of Atiku Abubakar, former Vice President to Obasanjo, who had plotted to upstage the applecart of his boss’ re-election bid.
He had loyally worked behind the scene on the side of Obasanjo to secure and achieve his re-election bid: Anenih was at the centre of the overtures and counter-plots by Obasanjo to contain the blackmail and onslaught of Atiku and the more than twenty PDP governors that were in his camp.
That was one of the cases in which the sagacity of Anenih proved invaluable in the resolution of political conflicts. There had been many other issues, especially political and electoral, which had been resolved largely through his strategic input.
This is why he is, perhaps, regarded by the Jonathan presidency as the most suitable politician in the PDP today to occupy the position of the BoT chair, which Obasanjo resigned on February 2, 2012. Interestingly, it was Obasanjo who plotted Anenih’s ouster from the same position on June 27, 2007.
Before the ouster, Anenih had been BoT chair since 2004. His return on February 25, this year, is understandably his second missionary journey to help the Bamanga Tukur leadership reposition the party and to support President Jonathan in consolidating his Transformation Agenda.
The political relevance of Anenih, the Iyasele (Prime Minister) of Esanland, has not diminished by virtue of a few electoral setbacks that he had understandably suffered in Edo State in recent times. His re-appointment as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) back-to-back (having occupied the position from 2009 to 2011 ) is a measure of his relevance and influence in the Jonathan administration.
His choice by consensus to lead the BoT, which is the moral guide and conscience of the PDP at a time that treachery, intimidation and brinkmanship are denominating political interactions within the party, especially in the light of the 2015 presidential power politics, attests to the amount of trust Jonathan has in him to provide sound political advice and strategies.
This is the personal burden that Anenih may have to bear: to remain consistently trustworthy, loyal and committed as he has been to successive presidents since 1999 in the pursuit of an enduring trajectory that will culminate in a Jonathan re-election in 2015 and thereby stabilise the polity.
Indeed, this is the exertion and not excitement that his emergence as BoT chair has brought upon him. This may not be evident to the eyes, but it is to the discerning minds. Yet, the party’s leadership guard and the presidency believe that Anenih has an incredible capacity to strategise, achieve results and thereby create political excitements that will serve as a signpost to victory in the burgeoning politics and politicking that presage the 2015 presidential contest.
The inimitable political mobiliser on whose shoulders lies the burden to provide a counterpoise to the onslaught of the gathering tribes of the opposition parties ahead of the 2015 general election is well prepared for the task. He is on a familiar terrain. No amount of political shenanigans will distract him as his eyes are firmly fixed on the ball.
Feelers have indicated that a corpus of strategies would be deployed expeditiously to strengthen the party. Expected to be pursued is a deliberate reach-out to influential members of the party who are either aggrieved within the party or who have left the party.
There is great hope that an air of reconciliation will blow through the party. As someone said, “given Anenih’s capacity to do what he promises, members who are reached in the process of reconciliation will rest assured that whatever they are promised will be done.”
It is also expected that mechanisms would be emplaced to instil and deepen party discipline and supremacy, in addition to ensuring that the office of the president is not undermined in its political relationship with state governors on the platform of the party.
It is believed that once the fundamentals are well laid out within the party, once there is internal democracy and a number of tangible achievements on the ground for Nigerians to see, it would not be difficult for the Anenih-led team of strategists to come up with and fine tune lines of attack that will decimate the opposition parties in the 2015 general polls.
The opposition camp is no doubt jittery and has been taking steps in the media to harass him and portray him as incapable of leading the charge against it on account of his age. Whereas, it is not about going to the electoral battlefield, it is about sitting in a room and charting the winning ways which the political foot soldiers will take to achieve victory.
The ruling PDP is expected to leverage on its extensive nationwide structures, machinery and contacts, which are expected to be easily oiled and activated for the battle ahead; Anenih and other strategic leaders of the party are expected to deploy their legerdemain, versatility and vast experience in politics and electoral battles to easily achieve a PDP victory in the 2015 general elections, especially the presidency.
Written By Sufuyan Ojeifo