The appointment of Pius Anyim as Secretary to the Government of the Federation is a clear reflection of how low we have sunk as a country.
Goodluck Jonathan just didn’t get it. Granted that the position was conceded to the southeast, which boasts thousands of accomplished, respected, and morally upright men and women, but Mr Anyim’s choice as SGF is repulsive just as it is repugnant. In fact, progressive and well-meaning Igbo men and women at home and in the diaspora need to protest loudly to President Jonathan for choosing one of their worst to occupy a strategic slot reserved for their geopolitical zone. Indeed, all Nigerians should consider this appointment as a lavish celebration of corruption and ineptitude, and learn not to expect much from a president who promises much but delivers very little.
After making the appointment, the president claimed he gave Mr Anyim the job based on his performance as Senate President. Except the President knows something the rest of us do not know about Mr Anyim, such a comment portrays Jonathan as having a poor sense of history and judgment. Mr Anyim was our country’s Senate President between 2000 and 2003. During his tenure, he did not display any outstanding leadership qualities. Instead, he emerged from the office reeking of filth and corruption.
How come the president ignored the weighty allegations of monumental corruption hanging around Mr Anyim’s neck? Arthur Nzeribe, who was at the time Anyim’s colleague in the Senate, had on November 15, 2002, petitioned the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Related Offences Commission, asking it to investigate the source of Anyim’s stupendous wealth, especially his magnificent mansion, then under construction on Agenebode Street, Asokoro, Abuja.
Senator Nzeribe had claimed that the mansion was worth N800 million while another property, “a gigantic office complex in the Wuse District of Abuja” acquired by Mr Anyim six months into his tenure as Senate President, was worth over N600 million. Nzeribe also alleged that Mr Anyim acquired a commercial real estate in Houston, Texas and other choice properties in Gwarimpa, Maitama, Asokoro – all in Abuja, as well as in Owerri and Abakaliki in southeast Nigeria.
The petitioner, who claimed that the properties were worth N10 billion, also alleged that Anyim was keeping 38 official cars to himself instead of 12. Mr Nzeribe added in his petition that the former senate president had become so rich that he buried his mother for N50 million after keeping her remains in the morgue for one year.
True, Mr Nzeribe brought up the allegations because he had a political disagreement with Mr Anyim at the time. But many Nigerians believed the allegations because it turned out that Mr Anyim indeed acquired some of those properties, especially the ones in Wuse, Asokoro and Abakaliki, shortly after he assumed office as Nigeria’s number three citizen. Before Anyim went to the Senate in 1999, he was a struggling public servant (Head of the protection department of the National Commission for Refugees) and it was curious that he had grown so rich within a short time.
If there was any doubt regarding the credibility of the allegations, it evaporated after Mr Anyim blocked the ICPC from investigating him over the allegations. Rather than appear before the ICPC to clear himself, Mr Anyim rallied his colleagues in the National Assembly to humiliate the then chairman of the ICPC, Mustapha Akanbi, and repeal the law setting up the commission, as a way of weakening the organisation. Mr Anyim and his colleagues even ignored an order of the Federal High Court in Abuja ordering it not to repeal the law. Olusegun Obasanjo, Nigeria’s president at the time, failed to sign the bill into law and Mr Anyim’s Senate committed another illegality – it overrode the President’s veto even without the requisite quorum. The episode heated up the polity and the ICPC was not able to investigate Anyim during the period. It was in the midst of that confusion that the former senator’s tenure expired in 2003 and he has been walking free ever since.
It is now curious that of all the great men and women from the southeast, it was a tainted Mr Anyim that Mr Jonathan decided to dust up for the SGF office. The world must be having a hearty laugh at us for appointing a man who became rich overnight after getting political power, to one of the most powerful positions in the land.
One lesson I have learnt from this appointment is not to expect any radical reform in the way our country is run, from this President. After all, has it not been said that once you expect nothing, you will never be disappointed?
First published on 234next.com