Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (CFR) Adieu!
Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (CFR) From 1923—2010
(The Adolor Of Uromi & Okaku’o Of Edoland)
Chief Anthony Enahoro has been variously described as colossus, icon, patriot, courageous & incorruptible, the last man standing, the last of the
titans, cerebral tactician with a highly organized
process, foremost nationalist, liberator, visionary leader, emancipator, bright star, true mentor,
elder statesman, legendary activist, example of all that is good & commendable of the golden era of the nation, tremendous leader, tremendous
democrat, tremendous politician, the greatest of the great,
super star, etc. etc. These were but some of the encomium outpoured on him in tributes when he
departed this corrupt world to be with the Lord on December 15, 2010 at the ripe age of 87 years.
Born in Uromi, Edo State on July 22, 1923, Chief Enahoro was the eldest of the 10 children of
His Esan parents –Chief Asuelimen Okotako Enahoro, (died in 1968) and Princess Fidelia Inibokun, nee
Ogbidi Okojie (died in 1969). He was educated at Government School, Uromi; Government School, Owo
(Ondo State) and King’s College, Lagos. His distinguished career as a journalist started at an early age, as
he became the editor of Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender based in Ibadan, in 1944. He was 21 at the time, which
made him effectively Nigeria’s youngest editor ever. A
record yet to be surpassed. He later became editor of Zik’s Comet in Kano (1945-1949), associate
editor of West African Pilot in Lagos, and editor-in chief of Morning Star (1950-1953) As an editor he was an out spoken critic of the colonial
authorities. Principled, stubborn & a bloody risk taker, Chief Anthony
Enahoro was hardly arrogant despite his enviable qualities. He blended beautifully the diametric qualities of a revolutionary mind with strong
democratic values. Before Independence, Chief Enahoro
had been in & out of prison 3 times as a result of his radical view to politics. The British colonial authorities jailed him for seditious incitements— 9
months for publishing investigative story exposing
the misrule of the British colonialist in 1946, 8 months for writing an article condemning police brutality
and asking black policemen to disobey the orders of their white officers and in 1948, when he chaired
a revolutionary lecture titled: ‘ A Call For A Revolution’ organized by the Zikist Movement. His
attitude could be summed up in his words: “ I feel no sense of wrong or of injury. British history
is, after all, full of prosecutions and imprisonments of nationalists. What did it matter? Prison is an
occasional hazard for nationalists. Others would carry on, and if I come back, I should be with them
again”. He served terms in Kaduna, Lagos, Enugu & other places. He was a thorn in the flesh of the
Chief Enahoro dabbled into politics even while practicing as a journalist. He was foundation member of Chief Awolowo’s Action Group (AG) party,
assistant general secretary, Action Group, 1951-1957, Secretary and chairman, Ishan Divisional Council; member, Western House of Assembly,
Minister of Home Affairs, Information & Midwest Affairs, Western Region, 1954-59. As minister, he was
Instrumental to the opening of the Western Nigeria Television (WNTV), the first television station in Africa, in 1959. His creative fingers were deep
in the apple pie of the Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, opened
also in 1959. He helped in articulating his party’s social welfarism which included free education.
He returned to Lagos in 1959 with Chief Awolowo & became a member of the House of Representatives
and the chief spokesperson of the opposition on Foreign Relations and legislative affairs, 1959-1963.
In his days at the House of Representatives, Enahoro moved the first motion for Nigeria’s independence
In 1953. The motion was laced with resounding denunciation of oppression and injustice, which reminds one of the weighty thoughts of such
revolutionary icons as Fidel Castro, Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela.
Although this motion which would have seen Nigeria attain independence in 1956, did not succeed, it ignited the spirit of nationalism in Nigeria. He
was a Parliamentarian of excellence. He was described as probably the best parliamentarian in West Africa and one of the best debaters in the
Commonwealth. On his debating prowess, Ige in his book on ‘People, Politics & Politicians of Nigeria’, wrote thus: “ Whenever Enahoro rose to
speak, he was listened to with attention. He was a master in parliamentary procedure and practice. He had good delivery. He had style and he
knew the thrusts and parrying of parliamentary debates. He had been sent to UK for a few months to study the parliamentary practice of the British
Parliament and he made a good job of it. He knew Erskine May inside out. Nobody could have been a better mover of that historic first
independence motion better than Anthony Enahoro”. He was a
delegate to most of the constitutional conferences leading to the country’s independence on October 1,
1960. An orator, Enahoro was known as a diligent and hard working parliamentarian who spoke the truth, not minding whose ox was gored.
After independence, Enahoro, became one of the fist politicians to taste the bitter side of
politics in a developing country and experienced a lot of deprivation. During the crisis in the old Western Region, he was detained along with his
leader, Chief Awolowo and other AG members and charged with
treasonable felony during the Awolowo coup trial. In 1963, he escaped to Ghana and the United Kingdom. He was the ‘Fugitive Offender’ who
triggered days of debate in the House of Commons as he battled against extradition. He was, however, extradited and imprisoned for 15 years. He
was in prison
when the first military coup took place in January 1966. The Military Government of General Gowon
released him in 1966. During the post-1966 crisis, Enahoro was leader of the Mid-west delegation to the
Ad Hoc Constitutional Conference in Lagos. Under Gen. Yakubu Gowon’s government, he became Federal Commissioner for Information and
Labour (1967-1974), and Federal Commissioner for Special Duties (1975). He was also president, World Festival of Negro Arts and Culture
(1972—1975). He had a spell as one of the ablest advocates of Nigerian unity during the civil war (1967—1970) when he became
the Federal spokesman and leader of the Federal Delegations to the Civil War Peace Talks in London,
Kampala and Addis Ababa (1968—1969).
In the Second Republic, he was a member of the National Party of Nigeria between 1978 and 1983.
Enahoro was co-founder and chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy
Group that was opposed to military rule, and the annulment of the June 12, 1993 Presidential election.
He was also chairman of the Movement for National Reformation (MNR) as well as the Pro National
Conference Organization (PRONACO) which agitated for the convening of the Sovereign National Conference (SNC) through which multiple ethnic
nationalities will determine the future relationship
among them. Enahoro often criticized the presidential system of government, regarding it as not truly democratic, as parties were relevant only
during elections. It was one reason why he declined to run for the presidency in 2003, saying such consideration could arise if the country ran a
of government. He also decried massive corruption inherent in the system which he said, had turned Nigeria into a massive kleptocracy. Ever an
active participant in the democratic process, Enahoro was in
the pro-democracy struggle in Nigeria between 1993 and 1999. In spite of his age, he took part in public protests and endured the violent
reactions of the military authorities.
When Citizen Pini Jason asked Chief Anthony Enahoro in an interview under the ‘Chinua Achebe Foundation Interview Series’ why he was, at the
age of 82 then, still in the struggle that he started about the age of 21, he responded thus: “ I have often said in answer to this question that the
my generation set out to struggle for freedom, modernization and democracy. As you know, we succeeded with freedom, we also succeeded, to
some great extent, with modernization; but it is sad that Nigeria has had a deplorable record with democratization. We have failed. I consider it a
of the dreams of my generation and colleagues-- many of whom died in our struggle—to retreat.
I refuse to believe that destiny has let me live so long in reasonable health for me to betray our struggle
and selfishly confine myself to personal matters”
On his election as the first member of Ishan Division in the Western Region Legislature and elected member for Ishan at the centre, Chief Enahoro
told the electorates that his immediate concerns were to secure amenities for his constituency and division and to ensure an equitable distribution
the amenities between the dominant Yoruba part of the Region and the Mid-west. He fulfilled this promise by the provision of pipe-borne water for
the entire Esanland, establishment of the General
Hospital, Uromi, tarring of roads, setting up of police posts and post offices and the eradication of
guinea worm disease in the old Mid-west.
Chief Enahoro was conferred with the national honour of Commander, Order of the Federal
Republic, CFR, in 1982.He was awarded honorary DSC by the University of Benin in 1972. He was installed the senior traditional chieftaincy,
‘Adolor of Uromi, 1958 and the“Okaku’o of Edoland”, in 2000. He received honours from Central Africa Republic, Senegal, Sudan, Uganda,
Ethiopia, New York, Philadelphia, etc. He was the first African to play golf at Ikoyi Club.
His publications include: “Zik: Saint or Sinner”? (Lagos, 1948); “Fugitive Offender” (Cassels, London ’65)
To our beloved son, Chief Anthony Enahoro, who fought for the nation’s independence with all that he had in him as a youth, who dedicated all
his entire life to make Nigeria better, who never soiled his hands with inordinate lucre, who fought only for the general good but was rewarded with
several prison terms, who fought a good fight and finished the race, who refused to retire to a life of rest & comfort because all was not yet well
with the nation, who occupied the centre stage of popular struggle longer than any other, who dared the external / internal colonialists and
military dictators, who has left behind an indelible footprint on the sand of time that will be difficult to surpass, we, the people of Uromi, Esan and
Edoland, with pride in our hearts and gratitude to God, say to you:
‘Well done our jewel of inestimable value. You are no longer a fugitive. You are free at last for ever. May your soul rest in perfect peace with the
Compiled By Adams Ebhomielen