Nigerian Political Independence and Pro-democracy Icon- Chief Anthony Enahoro

TODAY, I REMEMBER ONE OF THE TITIANS OF NIGERIA’S STRUGGLE FOR POLITICAL INDEPENDENCE AND PRO-DEMOCRACY ICON, MY UNCLE, CHIEF ANTHONY ENAHORO.  AS WE PREPARE TO CELEBRATE NIGERIA’S 52 INDEPENDENCE DAY ON OCT 1, 2012, LET’S NOT FORGET THE MEANING OF SACRIFICE, FREEDOM, UNITY AND PATRIOTISM. ……….ASK NOT WHAT YOUR COUNTRY CAN DO FOR YOU BUT WHAT YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR COUNTRY. R.I.P PA.

Chief Anthony Enahoro (22 July 1923 – 15 December 2010) was Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists. He was born the eldest of twelve children in Uromi in the present Edo State of Nigeria. His Esan parents were Anastasius Okotako Enahoro (d. 1968) and Fidelia Inibokun née Ogbidi Okojie (d. 1969). Chief 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 from 1950 to 1953.

And In 1953, Chief Anthony Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence and consequences,he has been regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the father of “Nigeria State” Though his motion was rejected by Parliament and the northern MP’s staged a walkout as a consequence of the attempt. The actual successful movement of the motion for Nigeria’s independence did not take place until 1958. After Enahoro’s initial attempt in 1953, Chief S.L. Akintola attempted to move the second motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1957 and though his motion was passed by Parliament it was not acquiesced to by the British colonial authorities and it therefore failed.

The successful moving of the motion for Nigeria’s independence did not take place until August 1958 and this was done by Chief Remi Fani-Kayode. Fani-Kayode’s motion was not only passed by Parliament but it was also acquiesced to by the British. His motion had called for independence to be granted to Nigeria on April 2, 1960 and though it was passed by Parliament and acquiesed to by the British a slight amendment proposing that the month of independence should be moved from April 2 to October 1 was proposed by a fourth motion to Parliament by Sir Tafawa Balewa in 1959 and it was passed.As a consequence of that Nigeria gained her independence in 1960.

He was born the eldest of ten children in Onewa village, Uromi, in the present Edo State of Nigeria. His Esan parents were Anastasius Asuelinmen “Okotako” Enahoro (d. 1968) and Fidelia Inibokun née Ogbidi Okojie (d. 1969). Chief 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. AS a student then at the famous Kings College, Chief Enahoro plunged into the Nigerian turbulent liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to student revolts at the college, in Lagos where he was a student leader. He was prominent in politics at a time of rapid change. He was twice jailed for sedition by the colonial government, for an article mocking a former governor, and then for a speech allegedly inciting Nigerian troops serving in the British army. The British marked him as a firebrand, but even as he was jailed for a third time, he was beginning to reassess his position.

During the Nigerian crisis that followed the 1966 coups, Chief Enahoro was the leader of the then Mid-West delegation to the Ad HocConstitutional 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. Among his publications include the treatise Fugitive Offender. Chief Enahoro played golf and followed cricket ardently. [1][2][3] 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 via Ghana to the United Kingdom in 1963, Nigeria requested Enahoro’s extradition under the 1881 Fugitive Offenders Act, preventing his application for political asylum. Early in 1963, the new leader of the Labour party, Harold Wilson, detected the embarrassment caused by Enahoro’s arrest and imprisonment. Labour went on the attack in the Commons, with support from some Tories, backed by a media furore. He was once one of the best-known Nigerians in Britain. He was the “fugitive offender” who triggered days of debate in the House of Commons in 1963 as he battled against extradition.

“The Enahoro affair” became an issue of human rights versus the government’s pusillanimous wish not to offend Nigeria, and put the Tory prime minister, Harold Macmillan, and his home secretary, Henry Brooke, in a difficult position.

He was extradited from the UK and imprisoned for treason. In 1966, he was released by the Military Government.

Legacy

In 1953, Chief Anthony Enahoro initiated the self-government motion in the Western House of Assembly, which eventually led to Nigerian Independence on the 1st day of October, 1960.

Sport

Chief Enahoro came from a sporting background. He excelled in sports at King’s College and is credited with being the first Nigerian National to gain membership of a golf club in Nigeria. He managaged to bring his handicap down into single figures during his long golfing career. He was also the driving force behind bringing FESTAC to Nigeria in the 1970s, during which time both Muhammed Ali and Pele visited the country to widespread acclaim.

All his children excelled at sport during their schooling and University years, playing Football, Rugby, Golf and Tennis. Currently, Kenneth and Eugene are avid golfers and founding members of the Saturday Society at Benin Golf Club. Annabella practices Pilates and Gabriel is an avid cyclist.

Chief Enahoro is survived by his wife Helen (née Ediae),their five children; Kenneth Enahoro, Eugene Enahoro, Victor Enahoro, Annabella Enahoro and Gabriel Enahoro and several grandchildren.

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