Ahead of the 2023 general elections, the duo of President Muhammadu Buhari and ex-President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, yesterday, commended the leadership qualities of former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim, saying he has all it takes to be entrusted with higher responsibilities in the future.
In their separate remarks at an event in Abuja to honour Anyim on the occasion of his 61st birthday, they described Anyim as a humble leader who sees the entire country as single constituency.
President Buhari, represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, noted that at various times while serving in different capacities, Anyim rose to the challenge of leadership by putting the nation first.
He said: “Senator Pius Anyim is a patriotic Nigerian who always puts his nation first and he is one of stabilizing voices we have today in the politics of our country. This he has demonstrated in a number of times, but the one that stands out and still echoes with me was his insistence that elected officers should always stay a single term and he kept to his word by not seeking for re-election to the Senate, after the expiration of his first term as Senator and Senate President in 2003.
“That many Nigerians cutting across various political divides are gathered here today to celebrate you is a glowing testimony of your contributions to the growth of our nation and its political development,” Buhari stated.
In what would count as an endorsement of Anyim’s 2023 Presidential aspiration, Mustapha added that the experiences garnered over the years by the former Senate President place him at a vantage position to seek a higher political calling.
He continued: “Let me say on a personal note, as the current and 19th SGF that I have drawn a lot from the wealth of wisdom that has been the source of strength and the endowment that Senator Anyim has brought to the fore of governance in this country.
“We don’t often meet but whenever we meet, we share knowledge about the responsibilities of the office and the enormity of the act of balancing contending forces and interests, that is always vested on any occupant of that office.
“And I want to thank you (Anyim), for the wealth of experience and the depth of knowledge that we have. I made bold to say whoever had occupied the Office of the Secretary to the Government for four years In an evolving democracy like Nigeria, with diverse contentious issues, is capable and able to occupy any office,” he added.
Like Buhari, Jonathan described Anyim as a unique leader who never allowed the trappings of office to get into his head.
For Jonathan, the sheer number of people gathered at the International Conference Centre to honour Anyim was an indication of the trust Nigerians reposed in his years after leaving the office as Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
“Some people are very busy and on most Saturdays, some people don’t like to wake up early. For you to have gathered these numbers as early as this time today means a lot.
“We thank God for you today, your wife, your children, all your friends, with all of us here your friends, otherwise, we wouldn’t have been here to celebrate you today. You are a Government somebody that I know a little.
“You were the Senate President when I was the governor of Bayelsa state and I remembered you visited me in the house one day and of course by divine providence, you became the engine of my government as my Secretary to the government of the Federation.
“The first day I became President, Anyim Pius Anyim wanted to be chairman of PDP and he came to me with a lot of dreams and we spoke. I may not bother you with details but he was never the chairman of PDP.
“When he became the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, he did not even come to me with a biscuit but we found him worthy as a Nigerian that had experience in managing systems, managing issues and also somebody who had friends across the country and when we were looking at the person we wanted to be the Secretary to the Government, of course, we wanted somebody from the South-East because PDP then normally made sure that every geo-political zone had one key office. Now, we don’t have enough people, so we don’t have that.
“Up to the time I was the President, something somehow happened in a way that we never expected. The PDP philosophy then was that the President will come from one geo-political zone, the Vice President from one geo-political zone, Secretary to Government from the one-geo political zone, the Chairman of the party from one geo-political, the Senate President from one geo-political zone and the Speaker from one geo-political zone but that was when PDP had a lot of spread across the country.
“Now it is difficult to package that because even the All Progressives Congress, APC doesn’t have that kind of spread. So, it is difficult to get that package. That was very unique and it was a good way of accommodating every section of the country.
“And so we zoned the Secretary to the Government to the South-East. We looked at our brothers and sisters, the characters, and they were very nice people. They had many competent people but let me say that it’s like a lot it fell on Anyim Pius Anyim and we made him the Secretary to the Government. And I don’t regret committing him. He is a very hard working young man, committed to serving this nation and I believe if he has the opportunity to serve more, he can do better,” Jonathan said.
At 61, Anyim is a bridge between the old and the young and that fact was not lost on Jonathan when he said: “Today, we are celebrating a young man but you are getting old now. At 61 years, you are no longer very young but you are willing to serve and as somebody who has served at the parliament as a Senate President, at the executive level as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, it is quite tasking.
“Having served in that position (SGF) for the period, I know he is fully baked and I didn’t receive too many complaints. You know as a President, every day you receive complaints from those who work for you- the ministers, your aides, advisers, assistants and so on. I didn’t receive too many complaints about Anyim Pius Anyim,” he added.
Former Vice President, Namadi Sambo who came with Jonathan also took to the podium to pour encomiums on the celebrant, saying, “his leadership stabilized the Senate and we must be grateful for that. He was a team player who worked towards a prosperous nation. He can be trusted with higher political responsibility in the future.”
Former Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, Bello Adoke in his goodwill message described Anyim as ‘a team player, a humble leader that is always ready to take on any task for the good of his country.”
Also speaking, former governor of Abia state, Sen. Theodore Orji said at 61, Anyim has a lot still to give to his fatherland. “If you look at the age he started, you will know that God has not finished with him,” he stated.