Thursday, December 16, 2010

Adieu Pa Anthony Enahoro

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Nigeria has lost one of her foremost nationalists, Pa Anthony Enahoro (C.F.R, D.Sc Hon), who passed on at the ripe age of 87. He believed so much in Nigeria and was ready to keep the country from oppressive and repressive leadership.

Chief Anthony Enahoro would ever be remembered for his great achievements for his father land. He was the one who moved the Crisis Motion in Federal Parliament for Nigeria’s Self-government in 1953 at the age of 30.

The “Adolor of Uromi” was born on 22nd July, 1923 at Uromi, in present Edo state of Nigeria. He had his primary and secondary education in Nigeria before furthering his course abroad – Great Britain, Ireland, U.S.A, etc. where he had various degrees and certificates in different spheres.

He became the youngest Nigerian Newspaper editor ever at the age of 21 as the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, ‘The Southern Defender’ in 1944. Apart from being a publisher, he was also a Politician, Activist and Company director.

He was fearless as an activist; he challenged authoritarian government and was jailed trice for daring to speak against the government of the day. As the editor of the Daily Comet newspaper, he was jailed for nine months in 1946 for sedition; for daring to speak against the British Colonial government.

Few months after he regained his freedom, he was again jailed for 8 months in 1947 for condemning Police violence. He got another jail term in 1949 for chairing a lecture for the Zikist Movement. In the face of intimidation and victimization he never looked back: he refused to be cowed by the powers that be. He remained a dogged, determined and irrepressible voice.

He was once again jailed alongside others in 1964 after the subversion of the Western Regional Government. He remained fearless; he continued to defend the defenseless and timid masses. He continued to demand for the restoration of the inalienable rights of the citizenry of the country.

Anthony Enahoro held several Local, State and Federal positions before his death. He was former Information and Home affairs Minister of the Western Regional government led by the Late Chief Obafemi Awolowo; a founding member of the University of Ife (Now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife); Former Minister of Information, and Leader Nigerian Delegation to the United nations General Assembly.

Several honours were bestowed on him as well – D.Sc (Honoris Causa), Political Science, University of Benin, 1973; Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, Central African Republic 1973; Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R) 1982; Grand Star of the Nation, Senegal; First Class Officer of the Order of the Two Niles, Sudan, and several others too numerous to mention.

The Elder statesman once again rose to the challenges of the tyrannical government of the Late General Sani Abacha, who emasculated several human right activists and proscribed several newspapers in an attempt to hold on tenaciously to the reins of power. He organized the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO) that continually challenged the excesses of the military junta.

However, when the spate of sporadic assassination of opposition became too much, the Esan Chief was forced into self-exile in 1996. He returned back to Nigeria after the death of General Sani Abacha.

With the demise of Enahoro, Nigeria is now left with only a few pockets of human right activist that can truly stand their ground in the face of intimidation. The other activists like Chief Gani Fawehimi, Beko Ransome Kuti, Ken Saro-Wiwa, etc have all gone the way of all mortals.

Chief Anthony Enahoro was truly a voice for the helpless masses; a defender of the rights of the down-trodden and a patriot to the core. Adieu Pa Anthony Enahoro.

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