Centenary Anniversary: Life, Times and Memory of a National Hero, Chief Anthony Enahoro  

On July 22nd 2023, The Movement for National Reformation, MNR  rolled out the drums to celebrate the Posthumous 100 birthday of their impactful National Icon, the late Chief (Dr.) Anthony Enahoro in a statement titled – “The Life, times and memory of a National hero and our founding father, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro CFR, CON  (22 July 1923 – 15 December 2010). 

The statement endorsed by Chief Cornelius Olatunji   Adebayo,  National Chairman Movement for National Reformation  disclosed that there are also plans to organize a week long activities which will be made public to honour the Nationalist. 

According to MNR, “If Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro were not to be a mortal, that we all are, he would have been 100 years old on earth today, making him a centurion. He was born the eldest of ten children to his Esan parents, Chief  Anastasius Okotako Enahoro (1900–1968) and Mrs Fidelia Victoria Inibokun née Ogbidi Okojie (1906–1969), in Uromi, present-day Edo State of Nigeria, on  22 July 1923  and he died on 15 December 2010.

It was William Shakespeare, the great English writer who insightfully observed that:

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts.” 

Chief Enahoro as one of the leading actors played many parts- he had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service, Union and the pro-democracy movement. The theme of his vision and engagement seems to be ‘freedom for all’, freedom for students, freedom for workers, freedom for Nigeria, freedom for Nigerians, freedom for Africa and the black race. In the later stage he devoted his life to freedom of the ethnic nationalities from internal colonisation.  On this he created both the Movement for National Reformation, MNR and project PRONACO and  successfully raised the consciousness of the country on the need to recognise and manage the ethnic balance of power struggle in Nigeria, ‘the national question’, through a restructuring of the country.

We are celebrating chief Enahoro, not only because he is the founder of our great organisation, the Movement for National Reformaton, MNR, but because he was a man of ideas, an impactful actor in the life of our country, Nigeria. He was a transformational leader with foresight, integrity and high emotional intelligence. He was able to motivate people with a shared vision of the future, he communicated  well, typically self-aware, authentic, empathetic, humble and he devoted his entire life, sacrificing everything , including his safety, pleasure and family for Nigeria. 

Very early in life, he seemed to know what he wanted from life and he started very early. His father wanted him to be a Barrister, but he opted for journalism and politics: 

He attended Kings College, the prestigious elite school earmarked for training young bright Africans to support the interest of the colonisers. But he quickly gained self consciousness and turned against the coloniser. One of the colonial administrators once lamented to him- ‘Tony, upon all that we did for you, you still turn against us’. To which he replied, ‘I can’t help it’.  Enahoro once observed that the core difference between him and his father with regards to the colonisers was- his father respected them and didn’t believe we can be like them. But he respects them and believes we could do everything that they could do. 

As a student, Enahoro took part in the turbulent Nigerian liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to student revolts at the Kings college in Lagos where he was a student leader. He was prominent in politics at a time of rapid change. The British marked him as a firebrand and jailed him three times for alleged political offences, including sedition and for a speech allegedly inciting Nigerian troops serving in the British army. 

In 1944 at the age of 21, Enahoro became the editor of Chief Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, thus becoming 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.

In 1953, Enahoro moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence which generated chains of events that eventually led to it being granted in 1960.  

During the 1962 crisis in the old Western region, he was detained along with other senior Action Group members. Accused of treason during the Awolowo alleged coup trial, Enahoro escaped via Ghana to the United Kingdom in 1963. The Federal Government of Nigeria requested for his extradition under the 1881 Fugitive Offenders Act. He was extradited from the UK and imprisoned for treason. In 1966, he was released by the Military Government.

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. 

Enahoro was the chairman of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), a pro-democracy group that fought dictator General Sani Abacha’s regime. 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 project, Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO). 

Despite the fact that Enahoro engaged on many political platforms, he was sincere and consistent in his mission of freedom for all.

Chief Enahoro was never in politics for the money or for his personal aggrandizement but for the good of all.   He was not lacking in Self control and courage.

Chief Anthony Enahoro, We all miss you each and every day, but especially on your centenary anniversary.  Even though you are no longer with us on earth, but we celebrate your life. We know that wherever you are, you’re having a great birthday. 

“Visionaries will always meet opposition from weak minds but the seeds they plant always save the world” ― Bangambiki Habyarimana, The Great Pearl of Wisdom



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