My greatest regret – Enahoro

Late Elder statesman and front line nationalist, Chief Anthony Eromosele, had a major regret before he died: The inability to enthrone full-blown democracy in the country, a struggle he waged for over 60 years of his life.

Asked five years ago why he was still in the trenches at 82 waging a struggle that he started around the age of 21, Enahoro said: “Wthe 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.”

Enahoro was sad that two of the three dreams – the dream of independence, the dream of democracy and the dream of modern nationhood, had not been realised 50 years after.

On what informed his vision when you moved the historic motion for independence in 1953, he had said: “We, the nationalists had always thought that independence could be won fairly quickly, that democracy could be firmly established within a reasonable time after that, and then that a new and modern nation could be built in our lifetime.

Each step, each antecedent victory, was to lead to the next. In our innocence, and particularly in the light of the inspiration of America and India, we were confident that colonial rule would be succeeded by democracy. In 1960, independence came. Now, we could build our democracy. But today, as we look back on years of disappointment, we can say that as it is common with the greater part of Africa, democracy has eluded us.”

Indeed, in quest of democracy and true federalism, Enahoro waged a series of struggles, embarked on numerous public protests, was imprisoned and had to fly into self-exile

Undaunted, Enahoro, since 1991 had sought to engender true federalism by restructuring the polity through a Sovereign National Conference, SNC. He set up the Movement for National Reformation, MNR, to push for the SNC in 1992  during Gen. Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida’s regime. He had earlier proposed an 18-region structure for Nigeria.

His push yielded little or no dividends in terms of action by the government but succeeded in winning him faithful.

Following the annulment of the June 12, 1993 presidential polls won by late Chief M.K O Abiola, stepping aside of Babangida, emergence of Chief Ernest Shonekan-led Interim National Government, ING and later Gen. Sani Abacha as head of state, Enahoro was on the move again in 1994, through the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, which  led the June 12, pro-Abiola movement.

He fled to the United States when the Abacha regime tightened the noose on pro-democracy activists and incarcerated himfor four months. He continued by leading the June 12 movement abroad.
With Abacha out of the way in June 1998, the coast was clear for Enahoro to return to Nigeria and he did so in April 2000 and continued the crusade with the MNR.

In 2003, Enahoro registered the National Reformation Party NRP, which emerged from the MNR in time for the 2003 elections.

As part of the restructuring agenda, the NRP had a working accord with the ruling Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The plan was for the government to hold the SNC. However, the President Olusegun Obasanjo-led government was averse to the SNC and opted for a National Political Reforms Conference, NPRC. Enahoro was initially penciled down to chair the confab with Prof. Wole Soyinka as deputy. Soyinka rejected the offer and upon wider consultation, Enahoro also opted out.

Consequently, the stage was set the Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO) SNC, which he chaired in Lagos, with representations drawn from all the ethnic nationalities of the country.

The confab produced a draft constitution, the organisers, argued would engender an egalitarian society if implemented. If Pa Enahoro had his way, his party, NRP would implement the PRONACO grundnorm upon assuming power. This was yet happen before he kicked the bucket yesterday.

SOURCE: Vanguard Online

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