The declaration, at the weekend, by Nigeria’s former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim, of his interest to contest president in the 2023 general election, has continued to elicit positive reactions from Nigerians, especially people of Southeast geopolitical zone.
Anyim, 60, an accomplished lawmaker who served as Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) during the tenure of President Goodluck Jonathan, had while speaking with journalists on Saturday, declared interest to contest for president under the country’s main opposition party, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) in 2023.
The Ebonyi State born Anyim, who was secretary to the government of the federation under president Goodluck Jonathan, noted that he is determined to run for the nation’s top job, whether or not there is zoning in the party.
According to him, “Posters of my presidential bid and agitations by groups for me to contest flooded the social media in 2020 and I disassociated myself from such calls.
“I felt that it was too early for such a declaration, to enable the present administration to concentrate on governance.
“Such calls resurfaced in the early part of 2021 and I chose to be quiet over the issue. We currently have less than 18 months to the next elections, and I feel the time is ripe to indicate my interest,” Anyim said.
His declaration, coming amid growing clamour for a Nigerian president of Southeast extraction will be a huge boost for the zone’s quest for power, and has consequently triggered excitement among the zone’s stakeholders.
“Anyim is an achiever who always gets anything he wants done, and will surely do well as Nigeria’s president. I might even say he is a lucky person,” noted Bob Okey Okoroji, Lagos based lawyer and one time governorship aspirant in the state.
Anyim is the first high profile politician of Southeast extraction to declare intention to run for president, and for many in the zone, it is only right to back him at the moment.
“I can’t keep waiting for Peter Obi that has refused to say anything, I’m switching to Anyi Pius,” Ózọ́ Ginger Ibeneme, @McGingerIbeneme, Enugu based medical doctor and political commentator. “He has the CV: Senator , Senate President, SSG. Anyim has the right credentials.”
Anyim, a very dedicated member of the Assemblies of God Church, is a different breed of politician, who has since bursting into the country’s political theatre, continued to prove an actor of immense dexterity.
He began life in public service shortly after youth service when he became 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 has not looked back.
When in 1999, he got elected into the Nigerian Senate, aged just 38, he was the youngest senator in the country. Yet, a year later in 2000, he clinched the coveted office of Senate President, replacing the late flamboyant Dr. Chuba Okadigbo who was impeached the same year, and thus becoming the number three highest office holder in the country at just 39.
“Anyim is an astute politician who calculates his steps. He doesn’t make any move unless he is convinced about the outcome” Mr. Chidi Anthony, Abuja based legal practitioner and analyst. “If he has decided to run for president, it’s most likely because he has done his homework well. It’s a good development.”
As senate president, even at a young age, Anyim demonstrated rare leadership qualities. He displayed maturity and brought much needed stability to the hitherto volatile red chamber. In an era where laying banana peels for senate presidents was the norm, Anyim held his own and brought sanity into the the business of lawmaking. And of course, served till the end of his term in 2003, becoming the first senate president to do so in the fourth republic.
“Anyim is a unique personality. He has accomplished many things in his political career, and will certainly do well as president,” said Chief Abia Onyike, chairman, publicity bureau of Alaigbo Development Foundation (ADF).
“Within few months as a senator, he became the senate president and used the office to set the tone for what the leadership of the senate should be for others coming after him. The respect accorded that office today is as a result of the foundation laid by him.
“He is a pan Nigerian leader who has emerged as leader of the Nigerian legislative caucus. This position is not a formal one, but he merited it on account of the competent leadership that he offered Nigerians as senate president. He gave a very good account of himself and that is why, if you watch very carefully, sometimes when the national assembly members, both serving and retired, want to take position on national issues they consult him.”
The former SGF, who largely retired to a quiet life after his tenure in the Senate, having opted not to seek reelection in the 2003 general election, would once again, announce his presence on the national stage when in January 2010, he led a delegation of 41 eminent Nigerians to call on the apparently indisposed President Umaru Yar’Adua, now late, to transmit a letter to the National Assembly to salvage the nation’s democracy from danger.
The senate would subsequently on February 9, pass a to make Goodluck Jonathan, then vice president, acting president. In May 2011, following the victory of Jonathan in the presidential election that year, he was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation. And in that capacity, he once again proved his mettle.
“As SGF, he also did very well taking the entire federation into consideration. He used that office to serve Nigerians from all walks of life and carried everyone along,” Onyike said. “He is pan Nigerian. Anyim is not a man who believes in force, he believes in leadership by example.
“His decision to run for president is an exciting news, and Nigerians will be lucky to have a man like him as president.”