SGF: Choice of Pius Anyim and matters arising
From the onset, I had strongly believed that the Igbo will have to accept the gracious offer of Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) by the Obasanjo-led Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) or risk the chance of losing out completely in the party's novel pattern of sharing political offices. Afterall, the Igbo did not bargain for any position before going into the last April elections. Even if they had bargained for projects that will be executed in the Igboland instead of political positions, who will manage the project executions? It is the foot soldiers of Mr. President that will initiate or recommend the projects for execution, because Mr. President is assuredly too busy to notice or remember all that he promised to do.
Now that the dice is cast and PDP enforces its new zoning arrangement, the Igbo have to play along and then strategize for their future in the country. They must tread and agitate with caution. They should not think that they can be like the Niger Delta who have made their agitations and have been heard and blessed by God and Nigerians. At least, the importance of the Niger Delta over them for the time being cannot be overemphasized.
The Niger Delta has the oil the country lives on today. When they declared cessation from Nigeria, they were crushed for one Nigeria. The same when the Igbo declared cessation from Nigeria, they were crushed for one Nigeria. The Niger Delta people went into study and came out with a new approach that has yielded them their heart desire. They have produced the President, the National Security Adviser and watch out for more surprises in the appointments. The key positions in Nigerian government are not to be contested by the Igbo, at least not for now. I am afraid if the Igbo nation has not been subdued to Igbo smokers, literally implying irrelevant citizens. God forbid!
However, the choice of the former Senate President to man the position of the SGF cannot be described as a bad omen for the Igbo. The question should be how they can effectively utilize the position for the transformation of the Southeast region since the SGF is like the link between the federal ministries and the President. Most of the federal projects executed all over the federation are under federal ministries and agencies. This underscores the powers of the SGF.
The choice of Senator Pius Anyim is definitely on merit, having shown excellent leadership qualities during his tenure at the helm of affairs of the Upper Chambers of the National Assembly at a time when Southeast was seen as unserious after they had changed two or so Igbo senate presidents within four years. The appointment has been sealed and I am sure wide consolations by Mr. President must have been carried out before the choice was made.
During his leadership of the senate, Anyim made tremendous impact in the senate. Back to the grassroots, the glory of the easy movement of Southeast travellers between Afikpo and Okigwe is attributable to his efforts. The only road which linked Afikpo with the wider world was abandoned and armed robbers wrecked havoc on travellers. Accidents claimed lives at random. A journey of less than an hour was then a four-hour journey. In his home-town, he has done very well. The road to his village has become a link for the entire Afikpo people and their neighbours in Cross River State. Travellers who would ordinarily go from Enugu to Afikpo through Abakaliki, now have a short-cut through Ayim's village. His is unlike politicians who forget their homes when a federal opportunity is offered them. Many Ebonyi indigenes and Igbo youths, including youth and women groups cutting across the nation, have benefited from his magnanimity. This is just to mention a few of the great things which must have added to the qualities that singled him out for this national assignment.
The deal is sealed and Ayim has been anointed. Ayim, of course, is a Nigeria to count on. A statement signed by the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Ima Niboro, asserted thus, “President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan has approved the appointment of Senator Anyim Pius Anyim as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. He will be sworn-in on Tuesday, 31st May, 2011 at the Executive Council Chambers at 12 noon.” Already, he has assumed the office, having been sworn-in and his predecessor, Alhaji Mahmoud yayale Ahmad had handed over in a well-attended ceremony.
It is left for those who have been opposing the acceptance of the position by the Igbo to have a rethink and work for the general interest of the Igbo in Nigeria or they dare the federal might. Let them take Anyim as their own, work with him and restrategize for the future. Nigeria as a whole has experienced hardship for so long that every Nigerian should be thinking the best way out, instead of engaging in agitations that are capable of risking our unity. We must remember that even husband and wife do have tough times, but the binding words remain for good and for worse, we are together.
Anyim is a very simple, humble, determined but unassuming politician. He is not proud and it can be vouched that he abhors controversies at hard times. Born on 19 February 1961 in Ishiagu, in Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, he attended Ishiagu High School (St. John Bosco), the Federal School of Arts and Science, Aba and later Imo State University, Uturu (1983–1987). For his youth Service, he served as the Co-ordinator, Youth Mobilisation Programme in Sokoto State. In 1992, Anyim became the Head of Protection Department at the National Commission for Refugees, Abuja, a job that included provision of legal services and political protection for refugees. He joined the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1998 and won a Senate election. But Abacha's demise on June 8 1998 nullified the result. During the transitional regime of General Abdulsalami Abubakar, he joined the People's Democratic Party (PDP) and was elected as Senator on PDP's platform in 1999 for the Ebonyi South constituency of Ebonyi State. He was appointed Senate President in August 2000.
With this high political profile, there is no doubt that he would be able to deliver, not for Ebonyi or Igbo people alone, but for Nigerians. We say a billion congratulations for his appointment and we pray the Good Lord guide him through the difficult task of pushing the nation forward to the next developmental step in his capacity as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
Muhammad Ajah is a writer, author, advocate of humanity and good governance based in Abuja. E-mail [email protected]