THE man, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, was deservedly a comet. A remarkable man, impassioned, of strong beliefs and dogged energy, was richly endowed with extra-ordinary intellect and long life. He was an admirably powerful figure.
As one of our founding fathers, his ideas shined, his actions shined and his convictions shined. It will therefore be an incomplete account to write about Nigeria, her successes and her many challenges without recalling Chief Enahoro’s part in it: his own struggle, his sufferings and some of the triumphs of his own vision for a country he loved so much.
His departure to the great beyond at a ripe old age of 87 years on December 15, 2010 was a blow, but he left so much behind to soften his exit; today the task before us is to carry forward the mantle he left for us.
For me and for all those who believe in the possibilities of Nigeria, Papa Enahoro’s life work even with his demise has only just begun. Papa Enahoro fought colonial rulers because he wanted freedom for the nation and for that he went to jail several times. In 1953 consistent with his beliefs in the idea of Nigeria, he moved the independence motion.
Papa Enahoro wanted progressive change for the country after independence and for that he went to jail in 1962. Papa Enahoro wanted justice, democracy and fair-play and was detained for that in 1994 by the military and went into exile in 1996, and from exile fought for the return of democracy in 1999.
Idealistic, radical but resolute, I did not myself have many occasions to interact with this giant, but his ideas and aspiration for just, equitable and compassionate nation that caters to the needs of her people, a nation that can fulfill the yearnings of her people, a pride to the Black race, influenced many of us to get involved in politics.
I am sure that when we talk about fiscal federalism or resource control, when we talk about a restructured federalism, when we talk about giving voice to minorities in contemporary Nigeria, the true source of the inspiration for these ideas was Chief Enahoro. I am indeed proud that in his life time, the South-South zone, a minority zone, though before now not reckoned with is gradually emerging in its own right as a zone of equal part with the rest of the country.
Today, the President of the country is from the South-South zone. Today, there is a greater recognition of the importance of developing and empowering the South-South zone for the enormous contributions we had made in keeping Nigeria together and in ensuring the economic prosperity of the country. The labours of Papa Enahoro have not been in vain. A true nationalist and believer in democracy, equity and justice, there is still much to be done to fulfill the desire for which this great man suffered so much for.
The country has yet to find its real compass—its path to greatness and fulfillment. That is the challenge before us. Papa Enahoro has played his part and left. What is the way to go? Before his death, Pa Enahoro believed passionately in the restructuring of Nigeria along the line of federations.
He founded the Movement for National Reformation to project his ideas. He wanted a loose federation arranged along the lines of nationalities. He championed the call for a Sovereign National Conference where Nigerians, freely elected by nationality groups, would settle the national question. He demonstrated his commitment when he led the convening of an independent national conference by PRONACO.
As we, his heirs, struggle to graft a better nation, ideas propagated by Papa Enahoro deserve a strong consideration, if we must truly realize the mission of erecting a great nation, a nation worthy of its name and the wonderful people that live in it. A nation worthy of the dreams and sacrifices of Papa Enahoro.
Yes, the man died. Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro has gone the way of all flesh. But, he lives forever. His ideas are etched in marble; his thoughts are recorded for posterity. He was a true soldier for democracy. He was a great nationalist. He was a timeless representative of the people of Bendel, now Delta and Edo states.
Adieu, our great leader.
Dr. EMMANUEL UDUAGHAN is the Governor of Delta State.