Enahoro: Exit of the last man standing

After weeks of anxiety, foremost nationalist and democracy activist, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, yesterday finally succumbed to the cold hands of death in Benin, Edo State at the age of 87. Ademola Adeyemo writes on the late statesman, Enahoro, a man of many noble parts.

News of his death was rife last month when he was rushed to the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH), Benin. Although he did not die but had remained incommunicado as a result of the stroke he suffered.

He was a Great Journalist

Enahoro became Nigeria’s youngest editor when he was appointed by the Southern Nigerian Defender in 1944 at the age of 21. The newspaper was then published by another nationalist, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe. He later became the editor of Daily Comet in Kano. Between 1945 and 1949; he served as the associate editor of West African Pilot, Lagos and Editor-in-Chief of Morning Star from 1950 to 1953.

Enahoro as a Nationalist

Late Enahoro belonged to the pre-independent generation of the Nigerian political class. He was a courageous fighter. From Lagos, he moved to Ibadan, the capital of Western Region, where he joined the Action Group (AG) government led by late Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He helped in articulating the party’s social welfarism. He was the Western regional government’s Minister of Home Affairs and Information. He returned to Lagos in 1959 and became a member of the House of Representatives and the chief spokesperson of the opposition on Foreign Relations.  It was as a member of the House that he moved a motion in March 1953, at the age of 29, for self-government. His motion was however defeated. He had proposed 1956 as the year for the country’s freedom from colonialism. It was late Chief Ladoke Akintola that later moved a motion for Nigeria’s independence. The motion was seconded by late Jaja Nwachukwu as amended.

Enahoro was a delegate to most of the constitutional conferences leading to the independence of Nigeria in 1960. In May 1962, following the crisis between the Tafawa Balewa’s Federal Government and the AG regional government in Western region, Enahoro went on exile to London to escape arrest. He was brought back to Nigeria in 1963, tried and jailed for treasonable felony along with Awolowo, and other AG leaders. He was in prison when the first military coup took place in January 1966.

During the Nigerian crisis that followed the 1966 coups, Enahoro was the leader of the then Mid-West delegation to the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos. He later became Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Information and Labour under the Gen. Yakubu Gowon Military Government, 1967-74; Federal Commissioner for Special Duties, 1975. He eventually became member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) between 1978 and 1983.

He later formed the Movement for National Rebirth (MNR) and proposed the restructuring of Nigeria into eight regions or federations – four in the North and four in the South – and Nigeria will then be a federation of federations.

His Struggle for June 12

During the dark days of the late Gen. Sani Abacha’s regime, Enahoro led the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy group that fought the dictator to a standstill and struggled for the revalidation of the annulled June 12, 2003 presidential election believed to have been won by late Chief M.K.O Abiola.

He was the chairman of the Movement for National Reformation (MNR) and Pro-National Conference Organisations (PRONACO).

Enahoro the ‘Jailbird’

Enahoro had been in and out of prison for so many times as a result of his radical view to politics. The British colonial authorities jailed him for seditious incitement while in active journalism before independence. In 1945, he was transferred to Lagos as the Editor of the Daily Comet where he was arrested and jailed again for sedition and incitement against colonial authorities. In one particular case, Enahoro was tried and jailed for ultimate sedition for asking black policemen to disobey the orders of their white officers. In 1948, he chaired a revolutionary lecture in Lagos, organised by the Skits Movement. Titled: “A Call to Revolution”, Enahoro was arrested and sent back to prison.

The late Enahoro was born in 1923 in Uromi in the present Edo State, educated at the Government School Uromi, Government School, Owo and King’s College, Lagos. He had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement.

Enahoro’s Words on Marble

“I have often said, in answer to this question, that we – the youth of my generation – set out to struggle for freedom, modernization and democracy. As you know, we succeeded with freedom. We also succeeded, to a great extent, with modernization, but it is sad that Nigeria has had a deplorable record with democratization. We have failed so far. Until that goal is realized, I consider it a betrayal of the dreams of my generation and colleagues – many of whom died in our struggles – to retreat. I refuse to believe that destiny has let me live so long in reasonable health for me to betray our struggle and selfishly confine myself to personal matters.”

Source: This Day – 16 Dec 2010

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.