By Dayo Benson, Political Editor, James Ezema & Chukwuma Nwakamma
It was a day of glory and celebration of professional accomplishment for author, publisher and journalist,Â Mr Peter Enahoro, popularly known as Peter Pan, at the public presentation of his book, titled â€œThenÂ Spoke theÂ Thunder,â€Â yesterday in Lagos.
The forum also provided an opportunity for speakers to x-ray the political situation of the country as the chairman of the occasion, Chief Molade Okoya- Thomas and Chief Bayo Akinola differed on the issue.
Among the dignitaries at the event which took place at the Nigerian Institute of International Affairs (NIIA), Victoria Island, were the old boys of Government College Ughelli, Enahoroâ€™s alma mata, which included Publisher of Vanguard Media Ltd, Mr Sam Amuka; others in attendance were Igwe Alex Nwokedi, Dr OsaÂ Bazuaye, Mrs Tessy Egbe-Ikimi who represented late Chief Fred Egbe, Gurantee Trust Bank MD, Chief Tayo Aderinokun and ex-DG of NIIA, Ambassador George Obiozor.
In the opening remarks, the chairman of the occasion, Chief Okoya-Thomas described Peter Pan as â€œa great man who has done a lot for the country like Mr Sam Amuka but he has not beenÂ recognised.
â€œPeter, this is your day of glory and that glory will remain with you as long as you live. You will live long enough to reap the fruit of your labour.
Iâ€™ve not read the book but Iâ€™m attracted by the title and the content of book to some extent has been discussed with me by Chris Enahoro who is my very good friend. And I know that if this book from today goes on the shelf, it will be the best reading book that we have in recent years,â€ he added.
Disturbed that Nigeria’s best professionals live outside the country, Chief Okoya-Thomas queried: â€œWhy are these good people, very knowledgeable, very professional, why would they decide to live outside the country? Why should you leave your country and go somewhere else? It is because you are not satisfied with your environment; you have no satisfaction about the way things are going.
â€œI donâ€™t know who are leaders in this country. What have they shown for their leadership? What is going on in our country? The question should be asked day after day. The media people, it is in your hands to tell the truth and tell us where weâ€™re going because I donâ€™t knowâ€, he charged.
On the book he said that it would have been a tragedy if the book had not been written, adding that the book came at a time Nigeria is at the verge of celebrating its 50th year of independence.
However, in his comment , the Lisa of Ondo Kingdom, Chief Bayo Akinola expreesed a contrary view saying that
â€œWe are great nation but what do we do? We are one of the greatest nations with the greatest people on earth. People who have contributed one way or the other to whatÂ has been described as the present debacle have no conscience to begin to say on the pages of newspaper that this is a failedÂ nation. Nigeria is not a failed nation. We only have failed individual because you have discounted yourselves and allowed other people to do what they liked with it.â€
He therefore challenged all to follow what Peter Pan has done, adding â€œ this book is a challenge that even at 70, Peter Enahoro is prepared to be controversial, to bring up issues, the type that sent him away into exile and be prepared to stand up for it and publish it, then we should all be ashamed of ourselves.
To the author he said, â€œI want to use this opportunity to tell you how much I admire you, I admire your competence as a journalist, I admire your humanity as a friend and I admire the heritageâ€.
The book reviewer, Dr R uben Abati described â€œPeter Pan as friend of Christopher Okigbo. Peter Pan has brought himself friends, enemies, dangers and despair with his writings.Â It would hae been a tragiedy if the book had not been written, â€ adding â€œ that the book came at a time the nationÂ is moving.Â towards its 50th independenceâ€Â He also noted that â€œthe tragedy of the nation looms large in the book.â€ He concluded â€œthat his frankness landed him in trouble with the military that led to his exileâ€
In his own address Mr Aderionkun whose bank supported to the publication said: â€œactually, it is our view at Guaranty Trust Bank that a banking institution should not just be a money storehouse, but must serve the society in a wider context. It must function as an engine room. By that I mean that while it helps to drive the economy on the one hand, it should also creatively serve as a repository of benefits to the common good of the community.
This thinking is fundamental in the operational philosophy of Guaranty Trust Bank where we regard our customers as partners. It is the reason for instance, our customers are individually assigned account officers through whom the bank maintains personal contacts with depositors and borrowers alike.
He added that â€œGuaranty Trust Bank counts the arts among the benefits of a society. A peopleâ€™s culture, self-awareness, and historical pride are projected in the arts, through sculptures, paintings and literature.â€
Representative of Government College Old Boys Association, Dr. Taiwo Idemudia, described Peter Enahoro as one of those in the Ancient Marina, recalling the authorâ€™s academic excellence at the school. He also recalled how through Peter Panâ€™s column, the renaming of collegeÂ houses was reversed in the 1960s by Maj. Gen. David Ejoor when he became the military administrator of the Mid-Western Stateâ€
Also speaking at the occasion, Mrs Tessy Egbe Ikimi said â€œPeter is a man Iadmire greatly. It â€˜s great joy to know youâ€
Peter Enahoro recalled his days in Government College Ughelli and lamented that things have changed for the worse.
â€œIt is a pity that things have changed but not for the betterâ€, he said.
Admitting contradictions in his life which he attributed to ageing, Peter Pan said: â€œBut Iâ€™ve lived long enough to know that a nation is not built overnight, that it takes time. And that probably explains my contradiction, which the reviewer generously and quite rightly pointed out that there are contradictions, yes, I think it is part of growing old. Iâ€™m not old yet. I say in the book that I despise bitterly the aging process.
All the things you knew, all the things you enjoy, they are still available but you canâ€™t enjoy them anymore. All the things that you used to think about, even when you thing about it, the rest of the body does not reply.â€