Name; Anthony Enahoro, Date of Birth; July 22, 1923, Place; Uromi, Edo State. Enahoro has been regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the “Father of Nigeria State”.
Born as Anthony Eromosele Enahoro to Esan parents; Anastasius Okotako Enahoro and Fidelia Victoria Inibokun (née Ogbidi Okojie). Anthony was educated at the Government School Uromi, Government School Owo and King’s College, Lagos.
Enahoro was grew up with many interests; one of them was sports. At King’s college, he excelled in sports and was even regarded as the first Nigerian National to gain membership of a golf club in Nigeria. He managed 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 Muhammad Ali and Pele visited the country to widespread acclaim.
At a young age, Enahoro made giant moves. For example, at the age of 21, he became the editor of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, in 1944, making him Nigeria’s youngest editor ever. He later became the editor of Zik’s Comet, Kano, 1945–49, associate editor of West African Pilot, Lagos, and editor-in-chief of Morning Star from 1950 to 1953.
Enahoro was a foremost Nationalist during the colonial era. He was notable for being the first to file a motion for self-governance. The man summarily was an anti-colonialist, pro-democracy activist, with a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement.
Activism, Administration and Politics
Enahoro has always been an activist. In the early 1940s, he took part in the turbulent Nigerian liberation struggle against colonial rule. This led to the 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.
Enahoro besides being an activist was also an administrator. He was the acting General Secretary and National vice president of the Action Group, and held a number of ministerial positions in Western Region. At the age of 30, as a member of the Nigerian Federal legislature, Enahoro moved on March 31, 1953, the first motion demanding Nigeria’s independence from England in 1957, a motion that though not carried then, set the motion for the eventual independence.
In 1953, Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence. However, his motion for Nigeria’s Independence suffered setbacks in parliament on several occasions with the northern members of parliament staging a walkout as a consequence of the motion. Notwithstanding the defeat in parliament, a popular movement was started on account of this motion and the pressure was now built up against colonialism and there was agitations for independence for Nigeria, or at least self-governance. In August 1958, Enahoro’s ever recurring motion was revisited and eventually passed by parliament but it’s the proposed date for independence was not approved by the British. The break of dawn actually came, due to the inherent sustained pressure by the motion, as Nigeria was eventually granted independence on October 1, 1960.
During the Nigerian crisis that followed the 1966 coups, 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 a member of the National Party of Nigeria, NPN, 1978–83. He was the president, World Festival of Negro Arts and Culture, 1972–75.
Death and Legacy
In 1953, 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. Enahoro was the chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy group that fought dictator Sani Abacha till Abacha’s death. Enahoro was conferred with the national honour of Commander, Order of the Federal Republic, CFR, in 1982, and was 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. Enahoro was a delegate to most of the constitutional conferences leading to the independence of Nigeria in 1960.
He wrote the treatise, Fugitive offender: the story of a political prisoner.
He will be remembered for striving and fighting for the independent rule of the Nigerian populace.
He died on the 15th of December 2010.
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