By Olasunkanmi akoni & Dapo Akinrefon
GOVERNOR Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State, first civilian Governor of Lagos State Alhaji Lateef Jakande, and first military governor of Lagos state Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (Rtd) and other prominent personalities have described late Pa Anthony Eromosele Enahoro, the Adolor of Uromi and Okaku’o of Edo Land, as a great nationalist who truly believed in true federalism in life and in death.
Why regretting that he did not live to see true federalism being achieved in Nigeria, the group called for the immortalisation of Pa Enahoro because he was one of the greatest and true Nigerians that ever lived.
They made the remarks on Tuesday at a well attended Special Valedictory Interdenominational Service and Day of Tributes, organised by Lagos State Government in honour of the deceased held at Onikan Stadium, Lagos Island.
Dignitaries present at the valedictory service are: governors of Ekiti and Osun States, Dr Kayode Fayemi and Engineer Rauf Aregbesola respectively; presidential candidates of NCP and SDMP, Chief Dele Momodu and Professor Pat Utomi. Representatives of the governors of Ondo and Ogun States, Messrs Ranti Akerele and Adegbemi Onakoya, deputy governor of Lagos State, Princess Adebisi Sosan, former governor of Ogun States, Aremo Olsegun Osoba, Mr Sam Amuka_Pemu, Publisher Vanguard Media Ltd.
Others are: Chief Olu Falae, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Supo Shonibare, Asari Dokubo, Sen Olabiyi Durojaiye, Senator Ganiu Solomon Rear Admiral Ndubuisi Kanu (rtd), Mrs Oluremi Tinubu and Mr Femi Falana, Asari Dokubo, representatives of NADECO and coalition of activists among others.
Various prayers were offered for the family of the deceased, Lagos State and indeed Nigeria as a whole by different officiating men of God.
In his testimony and tribute, Fashola who went down memory lane on the struggle for Nigeria independence, stressed that the deceased was a man of great vision with a mission dedicated to canvass, support and enthrone a just society governed by rule of law, the principles of equity, equality and fairness.
He said: “He was tireless in championing the cause of peace and progress of his compatriots and out country. Under colonialism when many parliamentatarians were inclined to double speak or speak in hushed tones about the country’s future, he spoke with boldness and courage against the unjust laws and ordinances and advocated self rule. “
“Part of that service is appropriately documented by his brother, Peter Enahoro at page 212 of his book “Then spoke the thunder”, when Papa Enahoro was being tried for treasonable felony and the people of Uromi went to his mother in solidarity and said to her: “Don’t worry mama, they sand. Jail Ah_Tony? The man that brought us pipe borne water? It is on account of him there were no more guinea worm victims in Uromi. Esan boys no longer have to travel outside the homeland for secondary school education. Ah_Tony gave us Esan Grammar School.”
“As we bid him farewell, there remains yet a bigger honour we can do him. Let us acknowledge. That there is yet to be done to achieve the Nigeria he tirelessly worked to build. Let us roll up our sleeves in the way that Papa would have done, let us speak up with courage in the way he will have done and let us resolutely pursue the actualization of a truly federal Nigeria that will prosper on the competitive energies of its diverse peoples. Rest in peace pathfinder, true nationalist, conscience of our nation. It will be well”
Jakande in his tribute described Enahoro as a great man in every sense of it, a man that had the courage to move the motion for Nigeria independence under the repressive colonial rule.
“A man of courage and integrity and if there was any man that lived and died for the service of the nation. Tony as i fondly call him, has immortalised himself. He can never be forgotten in the history of Nigeria and may God give us many more Enahoro, as the crowd chorused Amen.
Kanu also paid glowing tribute to the late nationalist, saying he left a big footprints on the sand of time.
“Fulfilled as he was as a person, Chief Anthony Enahoro died a very sad man having watched and lived in the ruins of the once enterprising project, Nigeria, for which he gave his all.
“Those who celebrate him today must seek ways to actualise Enahoro,s dream of a stable, prosperous Nigeria by helping return Nigeria to the federal foundation upon which it was originally built.”
In his tribute which was scheduled in the programme, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti state said “many may argue that we are still far from Chief Enahoro’s dream of a new Nigeria and that will be true in some respects, it is my own belief though that the argument has been largely won and his task on earth here accomplished. His death leaves us with a legacy far into the future.
A legacy of speaking truth to power, a legacy of promoting fundamental human rights, a legacy of promoting a restructured, trul federal Nigeria based on a people driven constitutional order and an electoral frame that places premium on the citizens, not the imposed opinions of a few who have hijacked the country’s political economy in their determination to keep ud in the doldrums.”
Also, Governor Rauf Aregbesola of Osun state described Enahoro as a “visionary leader and activist”. He stated in his tribute that he (Enahoro) in his glorious life, sstrove to enthrench a government of the people that emerged through the democratic process and fough gallantly every vestige of opposition to this dream on the way. He was a nationalist, federalist, patriot and unabashedly republican.”
Also, paying special glowing tributes to Enahoro, founder of Oodua Peoples Congress, OPC, Dr Fredrick Fasehun enjoined Nigerians not to allow Enahoro’s dream fade away.
He said “in biding the great hero, Anthony Eromosele Enahoro farewell, let us look around the Nigeria of today and try and compare it with the Nigeria of Enahoro’ dream for which he and compatriots fought, laboured, got imprisoned, got exiled and were generally hounded.”
Speaking further, he urged that the Nigeria of his dream was “a balanced federation in which the regions were in charge of their affairs and in healthy rivalry, sought to outpace one another in the race for development, harnessing and deploying their own resources.
“It is pertinent to immortalise this political icon. He lived life like no mean mortal considering the way he sacrificed his life and his comfort on the later of national interests, you would not but realise that his death marks the end of an era.”
Opadokun in his speech lamented the sad exit of the deceased at a time when Nigeria most certainly requires his wise counsel and courageous intervention saying Enahoro was a gift from God to Nigeria and lived sacrificially in pursuit of common good of Nigerians.
He said: “There is no doubt in our minds that Chief Enahoro deserves to be honoured nationally because, for over six decades he bestrode Nigeria political firmament as an authentic colossus with an active single minded devotion, along with his colleagues, to the recreation of a Nigeria of their dream at independence.
“In fact, the chief deserves a state burial, having regards to his pioneering, pivotal and unceasing leadership role towards the establishment of a truly federal union that is just, equitable and democratic.”
Rev Monsignor Ayodele Okodua, chairman Lagos Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, in his brief sermon, berated Nigeria politicians of nowadays for their self centeredness and greed, quoting a Bible passage from the book of St Luke.
He however, enjoined politicians saying, “let us begin to do good so we may receive eternal commendation from God and not eternal condemnation.”