Former Senate President, Anyim Pius Anyim has met with ministers who served in the 16 years that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was in power under the auspices of ‘Forum of Former PDP Ministers.’
The meeting which was held on Tuesday night in Abuja was in continuation of Anyim’s interface with critical stakeholders in the party as he takes his presidential aspiration to the finishing line.
Anyim, who was also Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), told the former ministers, most of who worked with him in government, that he has the singular advantage of not coming to learn on the job when he is elected President in 2023.
Anyim reminded the former ministers that they have come a long way together.
“There is one thing I have which other aspirants don’t. There is no minister here who didn’t serve in government with me. None! It is either you served with me when I was President of the Senate or SGF. So, for me, this is truly a homecoming.”
While admitting that the challenges facing the country today are enormous and urging every member of the opposition party, particularly the leadership cadre, to think for the country and its citizens, Anyim, nevertheless, reiterated his belief that the country can be salvaged.
“I believe that Nigeria can be great again and I believe that together we can do that,” he told the former ministers who came in their numbers to listen to him.
Anyim who said he has clear economic, political and social integration agenda said the 2023 elections will be critical to the survival of Nigeria.
Harping on his unique advantage, the former Senate President said he is not coming to Abuja to learn on the job.
“There is one thing that I have which many do not have. I have lived in Abuja for 33 years. And I have spent all my life working around the presidency. When I worked as a civil servant, it was in two parastatals in the presidency. As President of the Senate, I worked along with the President of the country. When I worked as SGF, that was the engine room of the presidency where all of you served, providing the fire,” he told the former ministers led by Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, SAN, former Minister of Special Duties and Intergovernmental Affairs and former supervising Minister, Ministry of Labour.
“My experiences are cognate. I am not going to learn on the job, I am going to continue from where we stopped. I understand Nigeria. I don’t need to come to Abuja to know you, I have worked with all of you. I don’t need to come to Abuja to understand how many tribes we have in Nigeria. There is no part of the country that I have not been to. I am not coming to Abuja to learn how to enter the Villa or navigate through the streets of Abuja. I have been here for 33 years. I am good to go. That is my special advantage.”
Urging the former ministers to provide the leadership that will ensure free and fair primary elections, Anyim reminded them of what is at stake.
“When the chairman of this Forum, Turaki, said that you have resolved to take more than a passing interest in the affairs of the party in general and the upcoming 2023 elections, in particular, that is the way it should be. A voice of reason must arise from this Forum, a voice of conscience must arise from here, a voice of patriotism must arise from here and I say this with all sense of responsibility.
“Yes, though I held office as the SGF which is the engine room of government, the ministers are the throttle that fires that engine and you all were able to fire our government from the beginning to the end, stabilized the nation and delivered an economy, political environment that served Nigeria well.”
Anyim, who emphasized the theme of his campaign as ‘Greater Nigeria 2023,’ segmented the challenges facing the country into three – political, social and economic. Of the three, he said the most fundamental was political because “it is the political process that recruits leaders and the problem of Nigeria are leadership.”
“Today, people wake up and talk about the 2023 elections. But what we are talking about is the process of recruiting a new leader for Nigeria. If we recruit the wrong leader, we will sink further, but if we recruit the right leader, the country will be rescued.
“In 1999, PDP recruited Olusegun Obasanjo, and he recovered Nigeria from a pariah status, he salvaged Nigeria’s indebtedness, and the result was that the economy boomed, Nigeria took its rightful place in the comity of nations and Foreign Direct Investment flowed into Nigeria and the country regained the march to growth and prosperity.
“After Obasanjo, PDP recruited Umaru Musa YarÁdua and he extinguished the militancy in the Niger Delta at a time when that militancy was a serious threat to the economic wellbeing of the country. Normalcy returned to Niger Delta, our crude oil production returned to the appropriate quota we have from OPEC, our economy was stabilized and social cohesion was restored.
“Thereafter, PDP recruited Goodluck Jonathan and he stabilized the nation and rebased the economy and it became one of the fastest-growing in the world and the largest economy in Africa. The Jonathan administration ran an inclusive government. There was cohesion and peaceful co-existence, everybody was happy and confident and Nigeria made progress.
“And in 2015, APC recruited the current administration and we are where we are today.
“If we make the same mistake we made in 2015, it will be worse. The process we are in today is a process of leadership recruitment and I will emphasise that if we get it right and recruit the right leadership, it will lead the country back to the path of growth, prosperity, progress, peace and stability.
“Today in Nigeria, there are concerns about insecurity, economic downturn and things are not going well generally and people are making promises on what they will do to revamp the economy, solve the insecurity problem, but I want to emphasise that if we don’t have the right leadership, the economy cannot be revived.”
Anyim said if he is elected President in 2023, he will refocus and rebuild the country.
“The major assignment, in fact, the first commitment I want to offer Nigerians, is to stand on the framework of consensus and reunite Nigerians and reduce mutual suspicion. When we are able to redirect the nation on the path of unity and eliminate mutual suspicion, all of us will come together to pick the right hands based on competence and capacity and work together to refocus the country and rebuild our society.”
Anyim said he did the same when he became the President of the Senate at a time of turbulence in the Upper Legislative Chamber.
“I am not saying anything strange. It is something we have done before together and something we can still do again. If I stabilize the polity, and Nigerians have confidence in me, the country will move forward once again. It will be just like what I did in the Senate when I became President. When I came to the Senate at the peak of the crisis, the leadership I offered gave everybody confidence that I had no hidden agenda. If the solutions I put on the table will address everybody’s problems, everybody joined hands with me to advance the institution. We will do the same for the country.”
Speaking earlier, the chairman of the Forum, Turaki, said as people who had served at the highest levels of government in the country and having examined the situation of things in the country today, they were resolved to take more than a passing interest in what was happening in the country today.
Said he: “It is because of this reason therefore that we said we must have interactive discussions between us and some of the serious presidential aspirants within our party. Let us discuss and analyse where we are coming from, let us look carefully at the state of things today, and then together we can draw a road map of where we intend to go.
“The greatest problem we have in this country is leadership failure. Because, leadership has failed in this country, and if the head of the fish is rotten, and so invariably and quite unfortunately, the body of the fish will also be rotten.
“You (Anyim) are one of the few Nigerians that have been given unimaginable opportunities. You have headed the legislative arm of government in this country, at a time when the legislature was in serious trouble, you have had also the singular opportunity of managing the executive arm of government, again in situations that were not rosy. And so, between the experiences you have gathered from both the legislative and executive arms of government and of course, while you never had the opportunity of playing a pivotal role in the judiciary, your qualification as a lawyer, and a senior one, fills that gap. That makes you one person that has served in all arms of government in this country.
“It is a fact today that no Nigerian is safe. Our properties are not secured, Nigerians are not secured, in their homes, on the streets, and we are not secured even when we go to our places of business.
“Nigerians are hungry and because they are hungry, Nigerians are angry and because they are angry, anything can happen at any time. Never in our political history have we been so divided along different unimaginable lines and it is important that we choose somebody who can build serious bridges of friendship along the various divides. We need a person who is not very old but has sufficient experience and maturity.
“We need somebody that has the courage to take decisive decisions because Nigeria needs a strong and powerful president.
“We need a man of integrity. We need a person that will listen, we need a person that will be compassionate, and we need a person that will show sympathy and empathy to Nigerians.
“Above all, we need a person that has the fear of God at heart. So, for us, knowing that you are one of us, your being in our midst today is a homecoming. It is a homecoming for you and for you, it is a reunion.
“We have resolved to take special interest in what happens in our party in the build-up to the 2023 elections. We will play a very active role, we will liaise with the leadership of the party in selecting a credible candidate that will win elections for us and for Nigeria and in the process salvage the country.
“Today, there is helplessness, there is hopelessness, we need a person that has the experience, we need a person that understands the nuances of governance, someone that when he stands up, Nigerians will have that hope that their Moses has come.”
Some of the former ministers who attended the meeting included Olusegun Mimiko, Osita Chidoka, Iyom Josephine Anenih, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, Boni Haruna, Dubem Onyia, Kenneth Gbagi, Becky Ketembu, Godsday Orubebe, Mohammed Wakil, Damishi Sango, Muktar Shagari, Architect Gabriel Aduku, Labaran Maku, Solomon Ewuga, Musa Mohammed Sada, Isa Ibrahim, Sanusi Daggash.