By Ikeddy ISIGUZO
MANY who pontificate on former Senate President Anyim Pius Anyim barely know him. Those who do will tell you of a man whose 61 years have been a roll through life’s challenges – he wins, mainly.
While at it, he has shunned the vanities of power in ways that stun even his most dedicated critics. He elected to serve, he is readier to serve, leveraging his experience, and his conviction that he can make contributions that can improve Nigeria.
At 37 Anyim was elected a Senator. Two years later, he was Senate President at 39, still the youngest to have held the position. Hid voluntary decision not seek re-election to the Senate in 2003 surprised those who have followed his humble beginnings.
He is an unusual politician. He acts without noises about intentions. The clarity, depth and breath of his thoughts unveil the few moments he speaks. His preference is to get things done. Others can do the talking.
Anyim is more public these days as he pitches for the presidency of Nigeria. The votes will be cast on 18 February 2023, according to the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC. He believes that his service can bring about the change many Nigerians think is possible only in dreams.
He is big. He dreams big. He is also big about the Almighty making things possible. His quite moments are invested in that voice that urges him on to imagine and emerge from the least expected directions to distinctions.
Anyim is not timid. He acts differently to get results that rattle those who preface their actions with noise. He has nothing against them. He has chosen his style.
How can timidity be associated with the one who set out for the presidential race with firm strides when people wondered where the aspirants were? Anyim declared, others delayed.
It was not a hasty decision. Years of poring through Nigeria’s challenges from the prisms of the public service, Senate, and as Secretary to the Government of the Federation have equipped him with cross-cutting experience of the Executive and Legislature.
What about the Judiciary? Anyim trained as a lawyer. He has been in practice. Moreover, as Secretary to Government of the Federation, he played prominent parts where all three arms of government interacted frequently, and fully.
Born on 19 February 1961, Anyim’s arrival broke the ‘ogbanje’ circle of his mother’s six other male children not living beyond two years. He has three sisters.
Anyim knows what it means to be poor, deprived, hungry and despondent at challenges that dot education, health, jobs and their consequences for families. He lived through them.
He missed school because there was no money for fees, went hungry many times, hawked bread, worked in a brewery but the Almighty God showed up through his mother, elder sister, and benefactors. His father took a fourth wife and fending for the children fell on each wife.
Educated at Ishiagu High School, Federal School of Arts and Science, Aba, and Imo State University, where he read Law, finishing in 1987, Anyim drew enduring lessons of life and relationships from his school days.
His National Youth Service Corps programme was in Sokoto with the Directorate for Social Mobilisation, a federal government agency, spread his national outlook, and landed him a career in the civil service. The National Commission for Refugees, NCR, was his next stop after a stint at the Abuja headquarters of the Directorate for Social Mobilisation. At NCR, he headed the Protection Unit.
A backward glance at the progress he has made since winning a Senate seat under United Nigeria Congress Party, UNCP, in 1998, would surprise Anyim. He was just 37! The victory passed with General Sani Abacha’s demise.
He became Senate President ahead of more known politicians after the 1999 transition. His tenure marked the laying of the foundation of the structure of the National Assembly after years military regimes.
His political battles have upped since he declared his intentions to run for President of Nigeria. He accepts them as part of the turf. He manages them in manners that mark him as a different politician.
Happy birthday Anyim. The future awaits your offer to serve more.
•Isiguzo, a major commentator on minor issues, writes from Abuja