Like Henry Clay of America, Tony Anenih remains the greatest politician in 21st Century Nigeria
African historians and political theorists including Nigerian academics will now, and in the future, discuss the role of Anthony Akhakon Anenih in the changing politics in Nigeria.
U.S. President Abraham Lincoln once called Henry Clay “My Beau Ideal of a Statesman” because of Clay's political influence in America. President Lincoln once told a sculptor carving his likeness that he “almost worshiped Henry Clay,” although Lincoln apparently never met Henry Clay.
Henry Clay, the 19th century political figure, was in definite terms the most powerful American who never served as President of the United States, just like Chief Tony Anenih of Uromi, Edo State. Clay influenced the American nation and a great many political leaders across party lines with his unique ideology and style, so too is Tony Anenih.
No matter how one thinks or feels about Anenih, across the political spectrum and across parties, one reality is clear, he is the best political body of all time.
Many in the country will agree that there is no one in politics from the South, the North, All Progressives Congress (APC), People's Democratic Party (PDP), Christian, Muslim, male or female who doesn't say Chief Anenih is the best political genius that has ever been in Nigerian politics, certainly for as long as they can remember.
Anenih is really good at politics because he truly likes people, enjoys decision making and, of course, likes everything about politics.
As long as many Nigerians can remember, he has had a fighting spirit, a pain threshold, and sees politics as battle sport. He has endured the pain of maltreatment by fellow politicians and leaders including the media. He is not the type to underappreciate the level of extreme partisanship in politics.
He has been accused of the worst wrongdoings and deeds, but as a man who knows the ways of the institutions of Nigerian life, including the way politics is in the country, and the way the media covers politics, he has always come out on top of it all with perseverance and style.
Chief Anenih, currently the chairman of the People's Democratic Party Board of Trustees, reportedly once told fellow party members, “Anybody from the South-South who does not vote for this ticket (Jonathan/Sambo), God will not give him good luck. That day, we have the boxes, Bayelsa, Edo, so when you put your ballot paper inside the box, we will know what you have done. Akwa Ibom box will be counted, Jonathan, Jonathan, Jonathan! We don't expect to be here, not even by mistake, somebody is saying Atiku. We will identify the handwriting of that person. If it is a finger print, we will trace it. I hope you know I was a Commissioner of Police! We will trace that person who made that terrible mistake!”
Just of recent, he reminded the Northerners that, “The South-South has, in the past, played a unifying role among the various regions of the country. In the political history of Nigeria, the South-South has also been a close ally of the North. We have fought political battles together, contested elections on the same political platforms and formed alliances. We have given support to the North when it mattered most. The current situation, therefore, calls for reciprocity and co-operation. Nonetheless, in appealing to the conscience of Nigerians in the prevailing uncommon circumstance, we would claim our right, with dignity and determination, in the interest of our dear country.”
It goes beyond saying that this is politics, and Anenih knows the people have been polarized, in part, having been balkanized, so he focuses on people who agree with his side of politics, and could care less and spend no precious time about the other side.
He strongly believes that in politics we have to listen to and hear people who have the same opinion as ours, but he is not afraid to be around anyone who disagrees with him.
Like Henry Clay who once stated, "I would rather be right than President," Anenih, with his enormous power and influence, sees it as an honor to provide service to the people and impact upon the young country a solid measure of political progress, no matter how it comes about, as long as it steadily embodies the nation with historical progress.
Anenih knows something about a compromise. He always delves into history and remembers those that were drawn into the political fires of Nigeria's developmental past and then uses these lessons to boldly influence and create new politics in the country.
Anenih is a piece of drama in his long life. He knows the strength of his magnetic personality on people, and pulls strongly on anyone who cares to take more than just a superficial look at his prophetic words. He is not afraid of being defeated and bitter, but he always proves to be the ultimate political winner in any long struggle.
It may have something to do with his humble start in life and as a self-taught man which he has used in sensing out national power by any reasonable means possible. From the beginning of partisan politics in Nigeria, Anenih has shown leadership in his party , given full commitment and loyalty through rough and good times and has shown non-decampment mentality. In a way, Anenih, who by traditional title is the Iyasele (Prime Minister) of Esanland, has used himself as a political father to all who care to learn about the ways of political strategic leadership.
Anenih is a quintessential Nigerian politician, encompassing all that implies, both good and bad, but his words remain inspiring, persuasive, motivating, and courageous. Yet, if he feels that instruments like pleading, cajoling, pomposity, divisiveness, disingenuousness and even confusion can accomplish the right thing, he uses his fiery mind to achieve it.
As part of his political wit and goodness, Anenih is known to save other political leaders when they find themselves in a political battle inside their own party.
Anenih loves and trusts the democratic movement in our young nation, and he is quick to reject anything that prevents political forwardness for the nation.
Anenih sees President Jonathan as one of his fruits of victory and will threaten and even overpower anyone he views as a political enemy.
Anenih is aging and he knows this reality. Still, he remains optimistic to spend the time remaining to him to bask in the glory of the nation's collective progress through the party he believes in—PDP.
Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic, Clinical and National Psychologist and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. [email protected]