Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro was a Nigerian nationalist, journalist, pro-democracy activist and politician. He is considered one of the heroes of Nigeria’s independence movement. He came into the limelight in 1944 when he was made editor of the Southern Nigerian Defender at the age of twenty one, becoming the youngest newspaper editor in the history of Nigeria.
In 1953, Enahoro became the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence which was eventually granted in 1960 after several political setbacks and defeats in parliament. Enahoro has been regarded by academics and many Nigerians as the “Father of Nigeria State”.
Anthony Enahoro was born in Uromi in present-day Edo State on July 22, 1923 to Anastasius Okotako Enahoro and Fidelia Inibokun (née Ogbidi Okojie). He was born the eldest of twelve children and was educated at Government School, Uromi; Government School, Owo, (in Ondo State); and King’s College, Lagos. While a student at King’s College in the 1940s, he became a student leader and led several anti-colonial protests, at the Kings College, Enahoro took part in the turbulent Nigerian liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to student revolts at the college in Lagos where he was a student leader.
Enahoro became the editor of Nnamdi Azikiwe’s newspaper, the Southern Nigerian Defender, Ibadan, in 1944 at the age of 21, 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. He married Helen Imayuse Ediae – daughter of Chief J. Ediae Idahosa, the Aiwerioba of Benin, got wedded on January 10th, 1954, together they have five children, one daughter and four sons with several grand and great grandchildren.
As an editor, Enahoro often came into conflict with the British colonial government. In 1946, he published an exposé of British colonial misconduct in the Daily Comet which earned him nine months of imprisonment on sedition charges. He served a twelve-month sentence in 1947 for a stirring speech denouncing police violence and discrimination against Nigerian troops serving in the British army. His final incarceration by the colonial administration was in 1949 when he defied the administrations order’s and chaired a lecture for Azikiwe’s Zikist Movement.
Anthony Enahoro joined the Action Group (AG), a newly established political party led by Obafemi Awolowo, in 1951 and was elected a member of the Federal House of Assembly in the same year. It was while a member of the House on March 31, 1953 that Enahoro moved the historic motion in favour of granting independence to Nigeria. it inspired other nationalists to intensify their struggle which eventually culminated in the achievement of independence on October 1, 1960.
Enahoro was also elected a member of the Western House of Assembly in 1952 and in 1954 Obafemi Awolowo, then the Western Premier, appointed him Minister of Home Affairs. In 1955, he was conferred with the title of Adolor Uromi in recognition of his contributions to the independence movement (adolor is an Edo word which refers to a person who brings progress and development). He became the Deputy National President of the Action Group in 1958 and led a delegation of the party to the inaugural All African People’s Congress in Accra, Ghana.
Enahoro was a member of the National Party of Nigeria (NPN) from 1978 to 1983 and was the chairman of the party’s Bendel State (present day Delta and Edo states) branch from 1978 to 1980.
After the military coup that ousted the government of Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Enahoro was among the first to criticise the activities of the military. He convened the Movement for National Reformation (MNR) in 1992 when it became evident the military were not willing to relinquish power to a civilian government. He was a co-chairman and the Steering Committee Chairman of the National Democratic Coalition of Nigeria (NADECO) from 1993 to 1998. He went into exile in 1996 to escape the military’s assassination attempts, eventually returning from the US in 2000.
In 2005, Enahoro co-founded another pro-democracy movement, the Pro-National Conference Organisation (PRONACO). He was chairman of the movement from 2005 to 2007.
In 1973, Enahoro was awarded an honorary doctorate in political science from the University of Benin. The federal government conferred on him the honour of Commander, Order of the Federal Republic (CFR) in 1982.
Enahoro died on December 15, 2010 after a protracted battle with diabetes at his residence in Benin.
His Legacy lives on because he contributed his quota to #MoveNaija
What are doing to #MoveNaija
- Sahara Reporters
- Official Website dedicated to the late Pa Anthony Enahoro
- The Politico
- Rest Blog