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Accord concondiale: The continuous search for Nigeria’s elusive unity (13)

ENCORE

It is rightly observed that the road to success is dotted with many tempting parking places. For many Nigerians, October 1, marks the celebration of Nigeria’s independence from colonialism in 1960. However, the struggle for Nigeria’s freedom started long before 1953, when Anthony Eromosele Enahoro moved the famous motion for self-government. On this note, we shall continue and conclude our discourse on Herbert Macaulay, which we started last week. Thereafter, we will beam our searchlight on another great Nigerian patriot, the “Father of Nigeria State”, Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro.

Herbert Samuel Macaulay’s unrivalled achievements (continues and concluded).

Macaulay writes of Carr thus: “He has been without any possible doubt whatsoever, the Head Centre, the King Pin, the very mainspring of what his own flatterers choose to call powerful influence or official support behind the renowned articulate minority on whose side Mr. Carr has along flung the whole weight of his official prestige, manifesting thereby an intolerable partisanship…deadly and detestable”.

Twilight years & death

In 1944, Macaulay co-founded the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (NCNC) together with Nnamdi Azikiwe and became its President. The NCNC was a patriotic organisation designed to bring together Nigerians of all stripes to demand independence. In 1946, Macaulay fell ill in Kano and later died in Lagos. Macaulay’s reported last words were:

“Tell the National Council delegates to halt wherever they are for four days for Macaulay and then carry on.

Tell Oged to keep the flag flying”.

The leadership of the NCNC went to Azikiwe, who later became the first President of Nigeria. Macaulay was buried at Ikoyi Cemetery in Lagos on 11th May, 1946. Nnamdi Azikiwe delivered a funeral oration at Macaulay’s burial ceremony and Isaac Babalola Thomas, editor and proprietor of the Akede Eko was Executor of the Macaulay’s Last Will & Testament. (Concluded).

Anthony Eromosele Enahoro

Early life

Anthony Eromosele Enahoro (22nd July, 1923 – 15th December, 2010), was one of Nigeria’s foremost anti-colonial and pro-democracy activists. He was born the eldest of 12 children in Uromi in the present Edo State of Nigeria. His Esan parents were Anastasius Okotako Enahoro (1900-1968) and Fidelia Victoria Inibokun née Ogbidi Okojie (1906-1969). Enahoro has had a long and distinguished career in the press, politics, the civil service and the pro-democracy movement. Educated at the Government School, Uromi, Government School, Owo and King’s College, Lagos, 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. As a student then at the Kings College, Enahoro took part in the turbulent Nigerian liberation struggle against colonial rule in the early 1940s, leading to students 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.

Chief Enahoro’s arrival on the national scene

A journalist by profession, Chief Enahoro learnt long ago that one is sometimes called to pay a price for speaking the truth in the face of authoritarian power. As Editor of the Daily Comet (Lagos), he published a key exposé of British colonial misconduct, earning a nine-month jail sentence for the crime of sedition in 1946. In 1947, he again ran afoul of the colonialists with a speech denouncing Police violence, for which he received another 8 months in jail. His third detention by the British was also in 1949, after he chaired a lecture for the Zikist movement.

Unscathed by these nasty experiences, Chief Enahoro was elected to the Western House of Assembly and to the transitional Parliament as a member of Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s party, the Action Group.

The freedom fighter had suggested in his July 22, 1953, motion for Nigeria to gain independence in 1956, but the motion suffered a setback in parliament as northern members of parliament staged a walkout as a consequence of the motion. It was said then that the North was not ready for self-rule. It was Enahoro’s motion that piled on pressure in the build up against colonialism and the eventual independence of Nigeria on October 1, 1960.

Chief Enahoro’s imperishable strides

Chief Enahoro, C.F.R, D.Sc. (Hon.), Adolor of Uromi was an hero of Nigerian independence and leader of NADECO, the major pro-democracy organisation that crusaded for recognition of the June 12, 1993, presidential election won by Moshood Abiola. In 1996, the same year, Chief Enahoro himself was the target of Abacha’s assassination squad, from which he narrowly escaped. His “offence” was to have offered to help convene a dialogue between the democracy movement and the junta. (The same squad murdered Kudirat Abiola later that year.)

He served as a delegate to the constitutional talks which preceded flag-independence. In the Western Regional Government led by Chief Awolowo, he became Information and Home Affairs Minister and supervised the construction of the first television station in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Western Nigeria Broadcasting service, and the first sports complex in Nigeria, Liberty Stadium. He was a foundation member of the Governing Council of the University of Ife, (now, Obafemi Awolowo University). When the Western Regional government was subverted in 1964, Chief Enahoro and others were declared wanted and eventually jailed. The story of his own escape to Britain and his eventual extradition back to Nigeria is retold in his 1965 book, “Fugitive Offender”. Eventually he was released and joined the Nigerian wartime government as Federal Minister of Information, as well as leader of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.

The crisis motion for Nigeria’s self-government, opposing the British “go-slow” policy

“A declaration of objective, sir, is important in other respects. We and our people can be likened to builders. We have set out to build a new state. From the multitude of tribes in this country we are striving to build a new and modern structure. Self-government is merely the foundation of that structure. This work of construction is a romantic idea to me, and I am sure that Honourable Members will agree with me that we are all proud and honoured to be the architects and that we should be grateful to Providence that this task has fallen upon our generation. But among the responsibilities which accompany this great honour and privilege is the important decision which none but ourselves can make, as to when we shall strike the first sod in this new edifice. Many Honourable members, sir, have had houses built for them. Others like myself may only have seen them built. In the North I have seen peasants construct their own hamlets. For many years these poor peasants must have planned and dreamed of their own little homes. They did not just sit by and hope that Providence would create a new home for them. They did not say to themselves, “I shall lay the foundations of my new home as soon as practicable.” That is not planning. On the contrary, I am sure that they must have examined their own earnings and their business prospects over a period, then considered their commitments and found out where savings might be made here and there, and then they could say to themselves, “By the grace of Allah, I shall lay my foundation in three or five years’ time” Now, the builders of a nation, as we are, are no different from these poor peasants. That is why in places like Russia, England, India and other countries, the Government sets out a declaration of objectives embodied in five-year plans, and all that this motion asks of this Legislature is to follow in the footsteps of these great and wiser nations and to establish a political objective towards the attainment of which we can bend the energies of our own people. Many years ago, sir, when I was a young man and I entered public life, the popular slogan was “Self-government in our life-time”. But as the country advance, this slogan went out of vogue and the new catch-phrase was “Self-government as soon as practicable”. That is many years back. As I have said, I do not wish to deal with the arguments for self-government and how the desire for freedom grew, but anybody who has kept pace with political advancement or with the trends of political thought in this country in the last seven years will agree that the bare idea of self-government is no longer attractive, is no longer enough. Whether it is expressed as “Self-government in our life-time” or “Self-government in the shortest possible time” or “Self-government as soon as practicable”, it has ceased to be a progressive view, because Nigerian nationalism has moved forward from that position. The question in the public mind since the end of the war has been, “Self-government, when? What time, what date?” That is the question which this motion now invites Honourable Members, who should be true representatives, representatives of that same public which is demanding an answer, to answer. There is a third reason, sir, why a declaration of objective is important. We do not want to part with the British people with rancour. For many years have they ruled us. We are not an unreasonable people, and like a good house servant, it is only fair that we should give our masters notice of our intention to quit, so that they can effect arrangement either to employ new servants or to serve themselves. We do not wish to take them by surprise. On the contrary, we wish to invite them to co-operate with us in the attainment of our objectives. Honourable Members may remember that the Indian cause alienated a lot of sympathy in the United Kingdom because of what was regarded as the indecent haste with which the British evacuated or withdrew from India. The British mind, essentially a conservative mind, does not like things thrust upon it all of a sudden. We all know that. This motion is designed therefore to acquaint the British public with what we are thinking, with what we are feeling, so that our agitation in 1956 for self government will not come to them as a surprise. This motion will also afford the British Government sufficient time within which to arrange gradual withdrawal and progressive transfer of power to Nigerians… We will go into the lobbies, sir, to decide the future of our own people and of our own children. None of the officials has a stake in this country, and I mean no offence at all when I describe them as mere birds of passage. They are here today, sir, but being of the Colonial service, they may well be elsewhere tomorrow, by transfer or by retirement. I beseech them, therefore, not to take any course which might lead to an estrangement between us and them. Mr. President, the whole country –I might even say the whole world- is awaiting the verdict of this House on this motion. News of what we say there today will travel far and wide. I do not know how many honourable members read the English press. They may have noticed in the Daily Telegraph an account of the debate which took place here last week on nudity. I am sure that any Honourable member looking back now and reading an account of that debate will feel thoroughly ashamed of the decision of the House. I appeal, sir, to all sections of this House not to let us repeat the mistake of underestimating the extent of overseas interest in the proceedings of this House. Our minds are irrevocably made up on the issue of self-government in 1956. Sir, I beg to move”.

•This was the genesis of Nigeria’s march towards our flag independence. (Concluded).

Thought for the week

“We must bring unity of spirit and purpose and condemn hatred and division wherever we see it.” (George Osborne).

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1 Comment

  1. Ezekiel Okeke 19th October 2017 at 8:44 pm

    Sovereignty of the political name Nigeria is illegitimate by law. So do Constitution under the political name Nigeria is illegitimate by law. The political name Nigeria is Yugoslavia of Africa- this is its last hours. God Is With Us!!!

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