Chris Anyawnu, Nenadi Usman: Where are they now?

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After serving the country meritoriously in different capacities and at different times, they are no longer in public domain despite their laudable contributions. ELEOJO IDACHABA writes.

Chris Anyawnu

Senator Chris Anyawnu, a former broadcaster, once represented Owerri Zone on the platform of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the Senate. She was in that capacity for two tenures, precisely from 2007 to 2015. Anyawnu, a trained journalist, in the hey days of her professional career had a raw deal with the late Gen. Sani Abacha when she was implicated in the alleged coup of 1995 and jailed for three years in 1996 on spurious allegations of complicity in that said coup. She would have remained in detention for that number of years, but after the sudden death of Gen. Abacha in June 1998, she was left off the hook in 1999 by Gen. Abdusalami Abubakar who took over Abacha as Head of State.

Anyawnu returned to her profession, broadcasting, where she warmed her way into the hearts of Nigerians especially her people. It was therefore not a surprise when in 2007 she found her way into the Senate to represent them. Speaking shortly thereafter, she told journalists that, “I feel I can do more than observe and bemoan the things that were not going right or that happened to me.” While in the upper chamber, she was very active during plenaries and in committees. For instance, she served in the Senate committees on women and youth, MDGs, health, environment, defence and army. While reflecting on her days as a broadcaster on the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA), she said, “What I and my colleagues at the time tried to do was to bring back to Nigeria the type of professionalism in broadcast journalism that we saw overseas. As a result of the passion I brought into the job, I was able to do a lot of report that captivated people. As a reporter on the energy desk of NTA, I followed a lot of stories in the industry and broke it down in the simplest form for Nigerians to understand. It was a very interesting period for me as a journalist.”

Because of her passion for broadcast journalism, she pioneered one of the first private radio stations in the nation’s capital. Today, her station, HOT 98.3 FM, which is one of the pioneer choice stations in Abuja not only transmits signals to Abuja listeners, but also transmits in Owerri, Imo state. However, since 2015, no one has heard anything about this former lawmaker again.

Edem Duke

Chief Edem Duke was the minister of culture and tourism and national orientation towards the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration in 2015. Until that time, not many Nigerians knew much about him. Under him as minister with Sally Mbanefo as director-general of Nigeria Tourism Development Commission (NTDC), there were conscious efforts to promote indigenous culture through dressing orientation. Chief Duke who was also the supervising minister of information for a brief period in the life of that administration tried to cleared the air especially as surrounds the redevelopment of National Theatre Arts in Lagos, a move that was said to be enmeshed in controversy for so many reasons.

He said “the on-going plan to redevelop the National Theatre Arts and its surrounding fallow lands would not claim some of the tenants housed within the National Theatre complex.” This clarification came on the heels of growing concerns regarding the fate of tenants in the complex. Following the exit of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from governance at the centre, Duke went into a private/quiet life. No one heard anything about him until 2019, when he declared his intention to contest the 2019 governorship seat of his state on the platform of All Progressives Congress (APC). It is, however, not clear when he officially crossed from PDP over to APC even as he could not proceed further due to the internal crisis within the party in the state. That was when he assured Cross Riverians of bringing back the state’s lost glory in tourism, if elected.

He said, “I’m working on a project called ‘Cross River State Renaissance 2020-2022’, a period where I will galvanise in order to reactivate the tourism sector of the state.” This was before the last election. Since then, no one has heard anything about this former minister again.

Nenadi Usman

Mrs. Nenadi Usman, perhaps, the most beautiful woman in the Federal Executive Council (FEC) under former President Olusegun Obasanjo, oversaw the affairs of the ministry finance as junior to the minister and later as senior minister in that administration when Okonjo-Iweala, as senior minister, was deployed from the Ministry of Finance to that of Foreign Affairs. Usman later became a senator and represented Kaduna South on the platform of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). She had served as a member Kaduna state caucus of the defunct National Republican Convention (NRC) and was also a member-elect of the House of Representatives, representing Kachia/Kagarko Federal Constituency under the United Nigeria Congress Party (UNCP) in 1998.

Looking back at her career in public service, she was a commissioner in Kaduna state from 1999 to 2002, where she swamped portfolio in different ministries before being appointed as minister. As a politician, she was the coordinator, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo Campaign Committee in Kaduna State in 2003. As senator, she pushed for the government to give more attention to women and children whom she called the most vulnerable members of society and to that extent, she played a major role in women empowerment through the formation of an NGO called ‘Education and Empowerment for Women’ which was sited at Jere, southern part of the state. It’s, however, not clear whether or not the NGO still exists. For her alleged role in the campaign fund of the 2015 general election, she was arraigned by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on a 17-count charge bothering on money laundering and theft alongside Femi Fani-Kayode and one Danjuma Yusuf, but till date no prosecution, an indication that those allegations were probably ‘trumped up charges’. Of late, she is no longer in public glare.

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