Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro is a notable figure that can’t be forgotten in a flash in Nigeria’s history. Anthony Enahoro is among the pioneers of Nigeria’s emancipation from the shackles of colonialism; through his wits, resistance, and commitment, Nigeria got her freedom in 1960. Join our Content Creation Academy
Chief Anthony Enahoro was Nigeria’s pro-democracy activist, nationalist, journalist, and politician, considered one of Nigeria’s heroes. He joined Nigeria politics just at an early age and made a name for himself during the 1940s when he became the editor of Southern Nigeria Defender.
Anthony Enahoro is widely recognized as the instigator of the motion for Self-government, which other nationalists like Samuel Ankintola clung on, in fighting for Nigeria’s independence. Will Nigeria forget his achievements in a hurry? No!
His Early Life
Anthony Enahoro is a direct descendant of Ogbidi Okojie the Onojie of Uromi, meaning he had royal blood flowing through his veins. He was born in Uromi on 22 July 1923 by Anastasius Okotako Enahoro and Fidelia Inibokun, and he’s the eldest of twelve children.
He attended Government School, Uromi; Government School, Owo in Onodo state, Nigeria, and later, King’s College Lagos, where the foundation for his political career and journalism were laid. While at King’s College Lagos, chief Anthony became the student leader from whence he conducted and led several anti-colonial protests.
The Career of Chief Anthony Enahoro
Chief Anthony Enahoro made headway in journalism and politics; however, that came with strong opposition and incarceration by the British government, who categorized his pursuits as sedition and felony against the British overlords.
He took his first stride in journalism in 1944 when he was a little over 21 years; his first encounter with Nnamdi Azikiwe, who sent him to Ibadan to edit his newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender. This earned him the first youngest Nigerian newspaper editor.
He also became the assistant editor of the popular West African Pilot, the chief editor of Daily Comet from 1945- 1949, and chief editor of Morning Star newspapers from 1950-1953. Moreover, his publications are usually soul-stirring, considering the number of concealed information about the British overlords it unveils.
In furtherance, his publication is constantly chastised and gagged by the British consuls. His first incarnation occurred in 1946 when he published an expose that divulged all the British misconduct; hence the British government sentenced him to nine months imprisonment.
Again, after serving roughly nine months imprisonment in 1946, chief Anthony incurred the British wrath when he publicly proclaimed the police violence and discrimination against Nigerian troops serving in the British army in 1947 and was further sentenced to twelve months imprisonment by the British government. Subsequently, in 1949 he served another term in prison for endorsing and chairing Nnamdi Azikiwe’s Zikist movement that rebelled against British rule.
His Political Career
After he joined the Action Group (AG) formed in 1951 and headed by Chief Obafemi Awolowo, chief Anthony Enahoro was appointed a member of the Federal House of Assembly in 1953. That same year, he moved the motion for self-government and was severely chastised by the Northerners, especially the leader of the Northern Peoples Congress (NPC), Ahmadu Bello.
Surprisingly, the motion for self-government that at one time brought rancor in the western and northern regions was later attained in 1960. However, that came to fruition through the endless effort of most politicians and the conferences held for the attainment of this independence.
Chief Anthony was appointed the deputy president of Action Group in 1958, and later on, he led the selected delegates of the party to the inaugural All Africa’s people’s party held in Accra, Ghana.
Also, he was bestowed with the title of Adolor of Uromi (meaning someone that brings progress and development) as a result of his efforts and contributions toward the attainment of Nigeria’s independence. Anthony Enahoro fled from Nigeria to London when streams of crisis broke out amongst the Action Group in 1962 when SL Akintola and Obafemi Awolowo were at loggerheads.
Chief Obafemi Awolowo was arraigned for plotting to overthrow the federal government by Samuel Akintola; thence, to evade the repercussions of this act, most members of the Action Group in support of Awolowo fled from the country, Anthony Enahoro inclusive. However, the federal government didn’t relent on the case as they pressured the British labor party to extradite Anthony by invoking the 1881 Fugitive Offenders Act.
After scalding arguments and deliberations, the British government under the rulership of Harold Macmillan acquiesced to the demands of the Nigerian government and extradited him. On his return to Nigeria, chief Another was convicted and sentenced to over fifteen years imprisonment.
However, he wasn’t detained in prison as sentenced; he was freed by General Yakubu Gowon in 1966 and was appointed the commissioner for information and labor in 1967 by the military head of state.
Chief Anthony held this position until 1974, and during General Murtala Mohammed’s regime, he was appointed the commissioner for special duties.
Chief Anthony Enahoro was in dire opposition to the military coup that ousted President Shehu Shagari in 1983. He struggled for the government to return to civilians but met stiff resistance from the military government of Mohammed Buhari and his successors.
Having seen how unyielding his struggles are, he formed the Movement for National Reformation (MNR) in 1992, calling for the total relinquishing of powers to the civilian government. He was also the co-founder and chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), which was formed in 1993-1998 to oppose the military government.
Awards by Chief Anthony Enahoro
When he was alive, Chief Anthony Enahoro earned many awards from the government, institution, and association. The University of Benin awarded him an honorary doctorate in political science (DSC). Also, he was conferred with the honor of Commander of Order of Federal Republic (CFR) in 1982 by the federal government.
He was also awarded the Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, Central Africa Republic, 1973, Grand Star of the ORDER OF THE Nation, Senegal, 1973, 1st Class Officer of the Order of the Two Niles, Sudan, 1974, and much more.
Chief Anthony Enahoro got married in 1954 to Helen Imayuse Edie, daughter of Chief J. Edie Idahosa, Aiwerioba of Benin, and has five children.
Chief Anthony’s infirmity warranted his death on 15th December 2010. He battled for a long period of time with diabetes but eventually died in Benin at the age of 87.
Publications by Chief Anthony Enahoro
Fugitive Offender – The Story of a Political Prisoner, was published in 1965.
Liberate and Democratise Nigeria – seventy key speeches, published in 2010.
Master of His Age, the story of Anthony Enahoro, was published in 2011.
Written by Juliet Emmanuel for African Docs Project
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