EACH time a national icon like Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro passes on, the country descends into convoluted mourning to impress the uninitiated that Nigeria cares about its past, present or future. Nigeria remains uncaring even about issues that affect its existence.
When we mourn Enahoro, exactly what are we mourning? Or are we happy that one more irritant, as some will see him, is gone?
Enahoro was one of a few voices that advocated for changes in the political structure. He was a fighter in the formative years of Nigeria’s political system, seemingly too young to have fully understood the intrigues that ossified our politics, nonetheless a believer in a better Nigeria.
He died disappointed about the little progress made in 50 years of independence, after the hopes and high expectations of a new nation. Many of those mourning him made generous contributions to Nigeria’s stalled growth. So what are they mourning?
For more than two decades, Enahoro worked for constitutional and political changes to enhance the capacity of each Nigerian nationality to have more control over its affairs in a federated setting, something some call true federalism.
A journalist, when journalism and politics aligned, he edited some titles of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspapers. The exigencies of the days’ politics found him in Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s Action Congress. He was sentenced with Chief Awolowo on charges of treason.
General Yakubu Gowon pardoned them. Enahoro served in the Gowon regime as Commissioner for Information. His Second Republic politics in the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, surprised those who thought he was an Awoist.
One of the controversies associated with him is the movement of the motion for Nigeria’s independence. Enahoro’s motion did not pass in 1953. Former Premier of Western Region, Chief Samuel Akintola moved the passed motion for independence the same year.
From the 90s Enahoro formed the Movement for National Reformation, MNR, which was committed to federalism that will provide each federating unit opportunities to make decisions on the immediate needs of its people. He died with that dream, which many of those mourning him still oppose vociferously.
His political struggles earned him detention many times and he was one of those who fled abroad after General Sani Abacha haunted leaders of the National Democratic Coalition, NADECO. Illnesses and age restrained his continuous involvement in the new struggles to halt the waves of dictatorships that have emerged at all levels of governance.
Enahoro was adamant on decentralisation of Nigeria to his last day. At the heat of the crisis that led to the Civil war, Enahoro, as spokesman of Nigeria spoke against the Aburi Declaration that was for more autonomy for the regions.
When later day patriots speak of a sovereign national conference, they forget that Nigeria lost that chance in Aburi 43 years ago when momentary politics was supreme, as it is today.
Adieu, Pa AnthonyEnahoro.