Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Anenih praises Jonathan for NPA appointment, dismisses corruption allegation as propaganda

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Tony Anenih

A former Minister of Works, Tony Anenih, has made it clear he was not troubled by a frenzied outcry trailing his appointment as chairman of the board of the Nigeria Ports Authority, dismissing allegations of his indictment for corruption as“media propaganda”.

He also said Mr. Jonathan exercised his discretion rightly by appointing him to head the NPA and that there were no reasons for mischievous characters to bellyache over his appointment.

In his first official reaction to the barrage of condemnation over the appointment, Mr. Anenih said in a statement on Thursday that “silence is golden in times like this”, and restrained his supporters from joining issues with his critics.

“The attention of Chief Tony Anenih, the Iyasele of Esan land, has been drawn to several newspaper publications in the last few days about his recent appointment as Chairman of the Board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the effort by the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to fill the vacant position of its Board of Trustees (BoT) Chairman,” a statement signed by his personal assistant, Peter Abulu, said.

“While Chief Anenih appreciates the concerns of some Nigerians about some mischievous publications on these issues, he believes silence is golden in times like this, and has requested concerned Nigerians not to join issues with the opposition elements in their mischievous enterprise.”

Mr. Anenih’s appointment by President Goodluck Jonathan a fortnight ago to the position sparked outrage, with critics highlighting the decision as further proof of the Jonathan administration’s feeble anti-corruption credential.

Mr. Anenih, a former chairman of the PDP Board of Trustees, has once held the NPA top job, and was a former minister of works. His tenure as works minister was characterized by allegations of graft.

The NPA board chairmanship appears to have been reserved as a honey pot for the ruling PDP’s influential officials, having also been held by a former PDP south west leader, Bode George. Mr. George was convicted for corruption and jailed for two years.

A 2009 senate report indicted Mr. Anenih for monumental corruption as minister of works – a position he held under former president, Olusegun Obasanjo.

The report said under Mr. Anenih, several billions of naira were unaccounted for, and dubious practices including contract splitting and irregular contract awards were rife. The senate report recommended Mr. Anenih, alongside other officials, for prosecution.

The recommendations received no attention under the Yar’adua administration, and the Jonathan administration too has not acted on the outcome of the report.

Instead, under Mr. Yar’adua, Mr. Anenih loomed large as a powerful figure with Mr. Jonathan later appointing him to the NPA job.

The report resurfaced shortly after the announcement of Mr. Anenih’s reappointment two weeks ago, stirring intense anger.

In the statement released, Mr. Anenih said the decision on the constitution of the NPA board, as well as that of the PDP’s Board of Trustees, were those of President Jonathan and the party respectively.

He said: “The appointment of Chief Anenih as Chairman of NPA Board was the absolute discretion of Mr. President and the filling of the vacant position of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the PDP is the absolute discretion of the party leadership and BoT members.  It should not be a matter for media propaganda.”

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