Sen. Anyim Pius Anyim – Core political insider guns for the ultimate prize
Senator Anyim Pius Anyim was one of the early birds in the race to become Nigeria’s president in 2023. He hit the ground running before most of the other contestants. Today, he is undoubtedly one of the most visible Presidential aspirants on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from Southern Nigeria. And, if he eventually gets elected as Nigerian’s president in the forthcoming general election, it would not come as a big surprise. It would be a classical case of opportunity meeting preparedness to produce success.
The big opportunity or advantage that Anyim has is that he hails from Southeastern Nigeria, the geopolitical zone favoured by popular political sentiment, emerging political tradition and the constitution of his party, the PDP. The incumbent President, Muhammadu Buhari, who will serve out his maximum two terms of office next year, hails from Northern Nigeria and is expected to be succeeded by someone from the South. Southeast, dominated by PDP, is the only one out of the three geopolitical zones in Southern Nigeria that has not produced a Nigerian President since the return of unbroken civil rule to Nigeria in 1999. Southeast is, therefore, favoured to produce the next President, a prospect Anyim hopes to take advantage of. He told Premium Times, a Nigerian online news platform in a recent interview that he was optimistic that his party would zone the position of Nigeria’s president in 2023 to the Southeast. He said: “Yes, because if you zone, it will go to the South-east, so I am comfortable. If you don’t zone, which means everybody can run, I’m still qualified to run. So, you cannot zone it to the North, you can only zone it to the South or you don’t zone. Whichever way, I’m comfortable.”
And, why not? Anyim, from all indications, is prepared. He has been in the corridors of political power in Nigeria for decades and occupied two of the topmost offices in the Legislative and Executive arms of government – Senate President and Chairman of the National Assembly, and Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), respectively. For him, the next logical target is the ultimate prize – President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Speaking at a South-East briefing and consultation session in Enugu recently, Anyim stated “I have been privileged to understand our national problems and appreciate their enormity and peculiarities in the last 21 years from my vantage positions in both the legislative and executive arms of government; therefore, I have a clear view of the task ahead as well as the solutions needed to advance the cause of our country.”
Anyim, 61, has remained a loyal member of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from inception. His commitment through good and bad times has seen him remain a member of the Party’s Board of Trustees (BOT), National Caucus and the National Executive Committee (NEC). He has also served as a member of the PDP’s Reconciliation Committee and had once declared his interest to become the Chairman of the Party. He ran a principled campaign and enjoyed the support and endorsements of party members across the country. However, a consensus agreement reached to zone the chairmanship to another state in the South East zone (other than his), prevented him from clinching the party’s top job.
Senator Anyim believes in building strong institutions rather than personal pursuits of power or position. As Senate President he inherited a crisis-ridden and factionalized Senate but with the solid support of other Senators, he restored the dignity and integrity of the legislature as the bastion of democracy. Analysts say the Senate, under Anyim’s watch, was focused, cohesive and productive and that, by the end of his tenure as President, the Senate was reestablished as a fierce defender of democracy and a catalyst for good governance.
Anyim Pius Anyim was born on February 19, 1961 at Ishiagu community, Ivo Local Government Area of Ebonyi State, Nigeria. He had his early education at Ishiagu High School and Federal School of Arts and Science, Aba. After his secondary education, he studied law at Imo State University, Uturu, Okigwe, then in Imo State. Upon graduation in 1987, he did his National Youth Service Corps programme with the then Directorate for Social Mobilization (MAMSER) as the Co-coordinator, Youth Mobilization Programme in Sokoto State. After his youth service, he was employed by MAMSER where he served from 1989 through to 1992, as Social Justice Coordinator, and later, Legal Adviser. From 1992 to 1997, he was Head of Protection Department, National Commission for Refugees. He supervised the refugee eligibility process of the Commission, liaised with local and international organizations on all matters concerning refugees’ human rights, general protection and the creation of awareness on refugee matters in addition to advising the Chief Executive on the implementation of conventions on refugees.
He joined politics in 1998, contested and won election into the Senate under the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP). When that election was cancelled, resulting in a new transition, Anyim joined the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as a foundation member, successfully contested and won election to the Senate in 1999. After he took office as a senator, he was elected the President of the Senate in August 2000, following the impeachment of Senator Chuba Okadigbo as Senate President..
In May 2011, Senator Anyim was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) by President Goodluck Jonathan and became the first non-career civil servant and first Igbo of South East geo-political zone to serve in that capacity. As SGF, he employed his deep experience in managing inter-governmental affairs and wide contacts in the legislative arm to forge a strong working relationship between the Executive and the Legislature which engendered trust and a rancour-free partnership that delivered good governance and effective service delivery by the government. Senator Anyim superintended many critical and landmark programmes of the federal government that helped to define the Goodluck Jonathan Administration.
Senator Anyim, a man of humble beginnings himself, is at home with ordinary Nigerians whose experiences and daily struggles he easily relates with. This consciousness greatly influenced his founding and establishing the “Chioma Anyim Foundation” in 2008. Through the auspices of the Foundation, Senator Anyim provides funds for various needs ranging from educational needs (scholarships) and other needs (philanthropic funds) as ways of rendering assistance to as many people as he can. The funds are also earmarked to support start-ups, housing & health needs and the up-keep of the old and the aged. Since its establishment, the foundation has recorded about 300 beneficiaries per year, from every part of the country.
It is not common to see many top Government functionaries in Nigeria, especially those that served in powerful and sensitive positions without being charged or tried for corruption. Senator Anyim served as Senate President/Chairman of the National Assembly during the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo. He also served as Secretary to the Government of President Goodluck Jonathan, yet, Anyim was never charged for corruption. Asked by Premium Times about his reported detention by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of corruption in the Centenary Project, the former SGF said: ” I don’t have any case with the EFCC. There are times you people (media) abuse this whole thing. That the EFCC invited you, does that put a case on you? If they have a case against you, they charge you to court. I don’t have any charges with any anti-corruption agency or any court.”
Senator Anyim holds the second highest national honour in Nigeria – Grand Commander of the Order of the Niger (GCON).
Senator Anyim is a political insider and national player to the core. Having served at the highest levels of the Federal Government – as Senate President and SGF – and contested for the office of PDP National Chairman, Nigeria’s biggest party which ruled the country for 16 years, there can be no questions about his national reach. It is not surprising, therefore, that since he joined the presidential race, many political groups have sprouted across the country to canvass support for him, with some going further to endorse his aspiratiion.
For instance, a coalition if civil society groups under the name Arewa Concerned Civil Society Organisations of Nigeria (ACCSON) which addressed newsmen in Kaduna recently, described Senator Anyim as the best man to occupy the number one political office in the country come 2023. Apart from being favoured by zoning, the coalition,led by their spokesman, Abdulsalam Mohammed Kazeem, said, amongst other things: “As an accomplished statesman, a legal professional, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and former President of the Senate and Chairman of the National Assembly, we hereby present Sen Anyim Pius Anyim to the entire youths of Northern extraction as our candidate for 2023 presidency.”
Some of the organisations supporting Anyim’s presidential ambition include Arewa Youth Assembly for sustainable growth, Arewa Youth and Students Forum, Concerned Northern Forum, North East Peace Movement, Arewa Youth Council of Nigeria, Northern Youth Assembly for Tranquility, Northern Women Initiative Forum, North East Development Council.
Others are North Central Grassroots Foundation Arewa Female Youth Ambassadors Peace Initiative, Initiative of Youth Advocate on Humanitarian Affairs, Arewa Youth Movement of Nigeria, Tiv Youth Initiative for Peace, Unity and Development, Middlebelt Vanguard and Northern Youth Network For Good Governance.
Another political movement called Nigerians Ask for Anyim, NA4A, has also endorsed Anyim whom they consider to be the best person for the office of President in 2023.
Considering all electable variables, Anyim undoubtedly is one of the leading presidential materials to look up to in the 2023 presidential race. He has therefore, made the list of The Top10 Magazine’s top 10 most electable presidential hopefuls for 2023.