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Enahoro:Tribute to a statesman

I JOIN millions of Nigerians at home and in the Diaspora  to mourn the death of our  foremost nationalist, an elder statesman, pro-democracy activist, journalist and one of Nigeria’s frontline politicians, Chief (Dr) Anthony Eromosele Enahoro the Adolo of Uromi  who died peacefully on 15:12:2010 at the age of 87, in Benin City, the Edo State Capital.

Pa Enahoro as he was fondly called, was a rare breed, a true nationalist who denied himself some basic comfort  for the interest of the generality of the people, who detested corruption, oppression and believed in justice, equity, peace and freedom.

Chief Enahoro was born the eldest of 12 children in Uromi in the present Edo State of Nigeria to Mr. & Mrs. Anastasius Okotako Fidelia Enahoro. Pa Enahoro has had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement.

Educated at the Government School Uromi, Government School Owo and King’s College, Lagos, Chief Enahoro became the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, The Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, in 1944 at the age of 21, thus becoming Nigeria’s youngest editor ever. He later became the Editor of Zik’s Comet, Kano, 1945-49, also Associate Editor, West African Pilot, Lagos, Editor-in-Chief Morning Star, 1950-53.

Chief Enahoro became a foundation member of Chief Awolowo’s Action Group party; secretary and chairman, Ishan Division Council; member Western House of Assembly; and later member, Federal House of Representatives in 1951.

He later became Minister of Home Affairs in the old Western Region. He was the Opposition spokesman on Foreign Policy and Legislative Affairs in the Federal House of Representatives, 1959-63; and attempted to move the motion for the independence of Nigeria. By that motion he argued that Nigeria should be granted independence in 1956 but this was met by stiff opposition in Parliament and it failed. Chief Enahoro was a delegate to most of the constitutional conferences leading to the independence of Nigeria in 1960.

During the 1962 crisis in the old Western Region, he was detained along with other Action Group members. Accused of treason during the Awolowo alleged coup trial, Chief Enahoro escaped to the United Kingdom in 1963. He was extradited from the UK and imprisoned for treason. In 1966, he was released by the Military Government.

During the Nigerian crisis that followed the 1966 coups, Chief Enahoro was the leader of the then Mid-West delegation to the Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos.

He later became Federal commissioner (Minister) for Information and Labour under the General Yakubu Gowon Military Government, 1967-74; Federal Commissioner for Special Duties, 1975. He later became member of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, 1978-83. He was the president, World Festival of Negro Arts and Culture, 1972-75.  Chief Enahoro was the chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy group that fought dictator Sani Abacha till Abacha’s death.

Chief Enahoro was conferred with the national honour of Commander, Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, in 1982, and is the Chairman of the Movement for National Reformation, MNR; as well as the Pro-National Conference Organisation, PRONACO. He was awarded honorary DSC by the University of Benin in 1972.  his publications include, The treatise Fugitive Offender. Chief Enahoro played golf and followed cricket ardently.

He is survived by his wife Helen (née Ediae) their five children – Kenneth, Eugene, Bella, Victor and Gabriel. Pa Enahoro, an embodiment of humility  has left his imprint on the sand of time, lived a life worthy of emulation and a political legacy that will be greatly missed by all as he will  be remembered for a long time. May his gentle soul rest in perfect peace Amen.  Adieu Papa.

Mr. OClifford OGBEIDE writes from  Ambrose Ali Varsity, Ekpoma, Edo State.


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