Nigeria @ 50

October 1, 2010

Enahoro asks, where are we going?

By Simon Ebegbulem
This interview was conducted on May 6, 2010 and was published in Saturday Vanguard. Chief Enahoro, 87, is indisposed and could not speak on Nigeria at 50. What follows are parts of the interview where he talked about Nigeria

WE had hoped for some thing else not what we are seeing today. I remember when the Queen and the husband visited us in Ibadan. I had the honour and privilege of being there.

We were told that the queen and her husband will be at a dinner party and that the government had decided the elders and traditional rulers were asked to sit at the back.

They were quite weird about it because I understand that the Oba of Benin then, that is the father of the present Oba, when I went to see him because I was in-charge of most of the arrangement, he said that he thought that the Queen should be brought to Benin and he will receive her and not him going to Ibadan to see the Queen.

Chief Awolowo agreed and the Oba received the Queen in his own territory.

Those were the sort of things that we took extra pride. I was particularly proud of the Oba for that action.

What actually motivated you to move the first motion for the nation’s independence?
That is the way we felt. We did not think that the British youngsters coming here to teach us are superior to us. We thought that if you wanted to be part of us then one of these days we are going to be free. We were very critical actually; we did not look down on our people.

The whites can be whatever they are in their country, may be more enlightened, or more developed. We may not be that but here we are developing on our own but not as if we looked down on them.

Anthony Enahoro

But we are not going to say sir to them, that is the way we felt those days. But today, the masters of today and the bosses of today are not quite up to the job. I may be wrong but I felt that frankly speaking, we do not think that most of the things we are doing today are properly done.

And some of things you find in government circles you will be surprised that people of our generation will accept this. The truth is that the people in charge today are not doing the job efficiently.

Way forward for Nigeria

People seem to be satisfied with what they are getting. They seem to be satisfied with our schools and the children.

Some of us fought that we could be as good as any other group. We thought we could do it as a nation but I am surprised that almost all our colleagues from all over the country who come here, they all criticise what is happening all over Nigeria and if it is like that, it is either we are incompetent or things are not moving as we will like to see them move.

I still travel to all parts of the country now and then, and I am surprised with the critical reports I receive. People feel that we are not able to govern ourselves. So I don’t know how we can move forward now. How are we going to prove that we can rule ourselves or are we going to be slaves to the British forever?

Again if we continue with the present system, we have no choice we will continue to get the kind of leaders we have been having. I think the America system will be better for Nigeria.

Though in theory that is what we have now, but in practice it is not working yet. As a system I still think that the Parliamentary system is still superior to any system but I wonder about our people. Where do they fit in? I like the British system because everybody hears everybody. You make your point and people disagree and move on.

Members of the House criticised the government though they are from the same party. Some of them then said that the government should leave Nigerians alone to solve their problems.

Well, I think we must ask ourselves, where we are going. Now, it is not clear at all where we are going or who is going to take us there. It is not so clear now, I do not know.