A contributory, anecdotal tribute expunges hitherto known clichés and confirms that Chief Anthony Eromosele Oseghale Enahoro, the King’s College (KC) student of the 1937-42 class was a human comet, whose demise/home call would have been heralded by a celestial comet were Nigeria’s development normal, if not seriously moribund at the time.
When King’s College was being set up in 1906, to take off in 1909, the future nation or the amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates as the Federation of Nigeria in 1914, was in dire need of qualified and quantity personnel to run a modern polity. With all the investments so far, that situation persists till today. Thus Chief Enahoro was more than ordinary/average, to have been admitted to the institution, King’s College, which was to bridge the gap(s). He was thus a confirmed leaven, a little national prince, who grew up to be an unforgettable/historic patriot and perhaps, an uncrowned king, for he spoke his mind at all heroic costs.
Fired by India’s preparations for independence, which was achieved in 1947, and news and records of the British Empire which he read in the rich School Library, it does not surprise that in 1953 or just eleven years after leaving school, he moved a motion/initiated the steps towards self-rule, which is independence. It was achieved in 1960 and after the civil war broke out on May 30, 1967, he did not shy away from the duty/destiny of defending the peace/unity (pax), which he had initiated in 1953, as the Chief Federal Negotiator for Peace/termination of hostilities between Nigeria and Biafra, in August/September 1968.
Alhaji Femi Okunnu, SAN, C.O.N, almost his distant junior (KC 1948-53) had subjugated himself to him, as the spear-head of Pax Nigeriana, in Kampala (after Aburi, Ghana), Niamey and Monrovia in April 1969, all the latter, without Enahoro. At one point in time or the other, the late President Ahmadou Ahidjo of Cameroon was present and the break-away East was led by Professor Eni Njoku, with Sir Louis Mbanefo, the first Igbo lawyer and Dim Odumegwu Ojukwu, the secessionist leader – both Old Boys of KC lurking in the background. The presence of King’s College Old Boys on both sides was both a boon and a boom, which should not be caviled. It was, therefore, intrinsic/in-bred for Enahoro to stand up for a free, democratic, progressive Nigeria till his last breath.
Enahoro was not merely a nation builder, but also a home maker/pacifier. As a junior journalist, a reporter for Radio Nigeria in 1968, while waiting for Enahoro’s briefing as a Federal Commissioner/minister, there was a diplomat’s wife, who reported his spouse – my senior, again. She implored him to help stabilise their relationship/home.
We were in Form 3 in 1963, when he has extradited from Britain to face the treasonable felony trials to which he deployed/engaged, though deprived, the services of great attorneys like Gratien and Sir Dingle Foot. Hence in the “Black Maria” which conveyed him to court, he must have conceived/continued to draft his reverential autobiography, “The Fugitive Offender”, a Nigerian classic, as we consoled ourselves that a Very Important Personality was going through the mills of fate only as a very important prisoner, who would not be mauled, but eventually rise again like a phoenix from its ashes. He did. He had his cross, which crossed him, like the monolithic, executive presidential system, which he did not prefer to the British parliamentary one, which he had understudied – experienced personally in the Mother of Parliaments, in Britain.
In the first installation of his memoir covering (1918-1950), to which the late mandarin, Chief Simeon Adebo (K.C. 1929-32) his fellow Egba compatriot wrote the foreword (not forward), Saburi Biobaku (1918-2001) (known/called earlier Bisiriyu or “Bus”), professor, second Vice-Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Government College Ibadan Old Boy, Master at the Government Colleges in Ibadan and Umuahia, respectively and former Secretary to the Premier of the old Western Region, recalls his teaching practice in English in Forms One and Two – when he met/taught the Enahoro brothers – Anthony Eromosele (or Enahoro I/Senior) in Form Two, and Edward (Enahoro II/Junior) in Form One. That must have been in 1938.
Biobaku’s book is/was titled “When We Were Young” published in 1992 by the University Press Plc Ibadan. Biobaku records his impression of the Enahoro brothers on page 84 thus: “One lasting impression which I took away with me was my encounter with two remarkable brothers; They were bright and amazingly/knowledgeable, especially on Current Affairs, such that I said to myself that they were better informed than we (us!), their teachers. Their precociousness was understandable, when one knew that their father was the famous headmaster of Owo Government School, who was such a stickler for perfection that all pupils at his school, had to learn how to write in his own astonishing style.”
In that 1937 class of Enahoro I/(Senior.) in KC, were also, probably, the Green brothers and Professor Tiamiyu Belo-Osagie (1926-2005), father of Hakeem, the current President of the K.C. Alumni (Old Boys) Association; Dr. David Garrick, the National High Jump champion at 6ft five and half inches, for a considerable length of time; Chief (Dr.) Ernest T. Green (1922-98) Chairman, Public Service Commission, Rivers State and (Chairman) Micheletti Construction Firm and Founding President, KCOBA Rivers State (1980). H.E.B Green (Dr./Let. Col., Dental Surgeon, Nigerian Army, Proprietor HEB Green – Dental Centre, Port Harcourt, was contemporary two years after. Akinola Johnson; V. Adedapo Kayode; Victor Nanna; Chukwuka Nwanze. S; Christoper Obi; Michael Oduntan; Jackson Ogbe; Adebayo A. Ogunsanya; Obiesie Okonkwo; Oladele F. Olukoya; Taiwo I.L. Oluwole; Tiamiyu Belo-Osagie, the Philanthropist, Professor, C. I. N; B. S (Hons); M. D;.. F.R.C.O.G; F.M.C.O.G (Nig); FWACS. (above). Others were Razak Oshodi; David Osuagwu; A. T. Bakrin Otun; A. Olusansi Oyebanjo; L. Akinwande Sapara; Sulaimon O. Shonibare; O. Adebayo Soetan; Olufemi Soetan; A. Banjoko Solanke; A. Lasisi Sumonu (aka Baby face); M. Obafemi Thompson; Ebenezer Williams; A. Olatunde Young; E. Amerika Zuoffa Legal Practitioner, and distinguished Senator in the Second Republic (1979-83).
The 1938 form one set which included Pa(s) Adedapo Adeniran, S. A. Osinulu, S.O. Blackwell, Edward Enahoro and David Garrick were the first to take the School Certificate in five years or 1942, thus squaring up with the Chief Anthony Enahoro class of 1937, the last to take School Certificate in six years, to make two combined classes. Chief Adeniran Ogunsanya (1923-1996), SAN was “initiated” with them in 1937, but graduated/left in 1940, two years earlier.
On the eve of the centenary, Chief Enahoro was a special guest at the King’s College Speech Day and Prize-giving ceremony, underlining that he did and does merit a place, when the Hall of Fame shall be inaugurated and so in no lesser measure as he has carved/inscribed his name in gold in the annals of Nigeria. Rest in peace, as we galvanize/consolidate on your achievements, a hero of Pax Nigeriana.
Professor Okanlawon lives in Lagos
SOURCE: GUARDIAN NEWSPAPER