IN grief and with great apprehension, Nigerians yesterday mourned the passing away of one of the country’s greatest politicians and nationalists, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro.
He fought, till death, to ensure that the ship of state remained afloat. He was the conscience of the nation.
Now that he is dead, aged 87, Nigerians, buffeted by sundry national challenges of leadership and economic survival are wondering who will keep the flag flying.
Enahoro, passed on yesterday morning at around 4 a.m.
Close family sources said they heard a noise in his bedroom at about that time and quickly rushed into his bedroom where they met him gasping for breath.
The elder statesman told his children that he wanted to rest and thereafter “lied down, position his hand in prayer form and passed on.”
His son, Dr. Eugene Enahoro told the media that his father passed on “in the early hours of yesterday peacefully in his sleep. We are happy that he lived up to this age considering what he went through in various detentions during the nationalist struggle for independence, in the early years of independence and during the military era.”
Expectedly, tributes came in torrents yesterday as the news of the elder statesman spread across the nation and beyond.
President Goodluck Jonathan yesterday sent his condolences to the Enahoro family.
A statement by Presidential Spokesman, Ima Niboro, disclosed that President Jonathan “received with great sadness today (yesterday), news of the passing away in Benin City of one of Nigeria’s foremost nationalists and elder statesmen, Chief Anthony Enahoro.
“On behalf of himself, his family, the Government and People of Nigeria, President Jonathan extends heartfelt condolences to Chief Enahoro’s family and the Government and People of Edo State.
The President urged the Enahoro family to take solace in the knowledge that the late elder statesman “lived a very fulfilled life of patriotic service to the nation.”
He added: “The entire nation will always remember with appreciation Chief Enahoro’s immense contributions to the struggle for independence and freedom from colonialism, and thereafter, his notable input to national development and the growth of democracy.
“Chief Enahoro will also be remembered for remaining at the forefront of the struggle for freedom from dictatorship and protection of the civil rights of Nigerians long after most of his peers had left the national stage. God Almighty will grant Chief Enahoro’s soul peaceful and eternal rest from his earthly labours.”
Governor Adams Oshiomhole yesterday said the “people and Government of Edo State received with great shock and grief news of the passing to glory of Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro.”
In a statement personally signed by him, the governor said the “death of Chief Enahoro is a loss not only to the Enahoro Family, but also to the people of Edo State and Nigeria as a whole.”
The governor added: “Even while we mourn the loss of this outstanding icon, we are also inspired to celebrate his remarkable life and accomplishments. He was a leader of proven commitment, tenacity and courage in the struggle for a better Nigeria. His passion about a just, democratic and united Nigeria was a common thread that ran through his sterling career in journalism, public service, politics and pro-democracy activism.
“Nigeria was the centre-piece of Chief Enahoro’s thoughts and actions throughout his eventful life as a foremost nationalist, pro-democracy fighter and elder statesman.”
Oshiomhole recalled Enahoro’s “outstanding contributions towards the attainment of the country’s independence,” stressing that “although relatively much younger, he stood shoulder to shoulder with nationalist icons like Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Mr. Herbert Macaulay, Chief Obafemi Awolowo and Comrade Michael Imoudu, who provided leadership for the struggle against a vicious colonial order.”
Going over the late elder statesman’s public service records, the governor, said “Chief Enahoro became a newspaper editor in his 20s and established a fierce reputation for militant commentaries, which regularly led to his harassment by the colonial authorities,” adding that Enahoro “launched a foray into the mainstream nationalist movement, ending up as a radical parliamentarian on the Action Group ticket.”
Oshiomhole wrote: “Today, the story of the struggle for Nigeria’s independence is incomplete without his bold motion for independence in 1953. His motion for independence, entitled “Let my People Go,” was laced with a resounding denunciation of oppression and injustice, which reminds one of the weighty thoughts of such revolutionary icons as Fidel Castro, Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela.
“Even at old age, Chief Enahoro continued to apply himself to the challenges of our nation, as an agent of change and progress. In Edo State under our stewardship, he has remained a source of inspiration, encouragement, fatherly goodwill and wise counsel.”
Enahoro was one of Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and Pro-democracy activists. He was born the eldest of 12 children in Uromi, present-day Edo State.
His Esan parents were Anastasius Okotako Enahoro and Fidelia Inibokun (nÃ©e Okoji). Chief Enahoro has had a long and distinguished career in the media, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement.
Source: The Guardian, Nigeria – 16 Dec 2010