By Gabriel Enogholase
BENIN- THE final rite de passage of the late political icon, Chief Anthony Eromonsele Enahoro who passed on to glory on the 15th of December 2010 began at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin Wednesday with Nigerians from all walks of life paying tributes to him.
Among those who were at the Sam Ogbemudia Stadium to bade the final goodbye were the former Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon (rtd), Governors Adams Oshiomhole (Edo), Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan (Delta), Dr. Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Admiral Godwin Ndubushi Kanu (rtd), former governor John Odigie-Oyegun, former External Affairs Minister, Chief Tom Ikimi, NADECO chieftains, political associates and family members.
Other dignitaries who paid tribute to Chief Enahoro were Niger State Governor, Alhaji Muazu Babangida Aliu, Chief David Edebiri, Chief Ayo Adebanjo and the Governor of Osun State, Alhaji Muruf Aregbesola, Chief Ayo Opadokun, Chief Frank Kokori, and Prof. Itse Sagey.
In his tribute to his former Commissioner (Minister) for Information,General Yakubu Gowon said that he first heard of Chief Enahoro early in his school days in the 1940s and 1950s when the young political firebrand was a budding political thorn in the flesh to the colonial masters of the day.
According to him, “he was well spoken and very articulate. He was a young man with great vision of what he wants his country to be and possesses enormous energy to get things done that got him onto many troubles with some authorities in his life time. Little did I ever dream that our path will cross, but yes it did. His political Activities had earned him some momentary incarceration as guest of Her/His Majesty or government in the case of ‘fugitive offender’ and the Treasonable felony to mention a few”
“It was during one of these episodes that our paths crossed as I and my government then was responsible for his freedom and resumption of his political activities by being invited to join my government, even though military, as Commissioner (Minister) of Information”.
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“His performance as Commissioner was exceptional as it was exemplary. He was the government spokesman and mouth piece during one of Nigeria’s turbulent period in history, Nigeria civil-war. He was Nigeria’s dexterous Chief Negotiator, risking his life during the process, but ably and masterly brilliantly navigating the negotiations to Nigeia’s ultimate goal – the unity and indivisibility of the Nigerian nation. During his ward as Minister for Information, many far reaching policies on information were adopted.”
“He ensured the government adopt and respect the freedom of the press and expanded our information activities, introducing colour TV etc in the time of FESTAC. He was the chairman of FESTAC for he was falsely and unfairly victimized by the succeeding government, but6 ultimately vindicated. He deserves and received the respect of all of us in government at the time”.
Edo state governor, Adams Oshiomole in his tribute at the occasion called on the Nigerians to stand up and fight for what the late Enahoro stands for, saying that never again shall ,”they fold their hands and allow the resources of the country to be plundered by the few people who are in power”.
“As many of us are lamenting the fail promises of independence, the gap between our potentials as a nation and the growing poverty our people, exactly the way Anthony Enahoro move for the motion for independence, shall we rise today in unionism and move the motion that never again shall we fold our hands and allow the resources of our county to be pocketed by the few who are in power”
He said today the country was celebrating a man who was not given to lamentation as he believed that if something was wrong regardless of the power or powers behind it, it must be challenge not silently but in public.
He said Enahoro has taught, “us to stand on our feet and fight oppression, how to fight and not how to lament, how to engage and not how to bend and taught us that the fact that when a man goes to prison for what he believes in, it is actually those who imprison him are the prisoners”.
In his tribute, Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan of Delta State said ideas propagated by Chief Enahoro, especially fiscal federalism founded on ethnic nationalities were worthy of consideration.
In his tribute titled: “A Democrat Exit and a Mission Accomplished” Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State said the clarity of Chief Enahoro’s vision for Nigeria was infectious.
In his tribute, former governor of Edo State, Chief John Odigie-Oyegun as a man of undisputed courage and tremendous vision, pointing out that the democracy Nigerians enjoy today was traceable to the vision of Chief Enahoro.
He said Chief Enahoro has fought for change all his life and had a vision of what Nigeria should be, can be.
According to Chief Odigie-Oyegun, the only was to immortalize Chief Enahoro is for all those who have pouring eulogies on him since his death to come together and immortalize what Enahoro stood for.