The world and Nigerians in particular are gripped with mixed feelings with the news that veteran journalist, foremost nationalist, astute politician and elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro and Professor Ambrose Alli, former governor of old Bendel state along with three others have been granted presidential pardon by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Political analysts are of the view tha Ambrose Alli and Pa Enahoro of blessed memory do not deserve to be grouped with common criminals to be pardoned because they have contributed immensely to the socio-political development of the nation through their patriotic exploits for the nation, therefore they deserve to be honoured with some dignity.
For example Chief Anthony Enahoro was elected into the Western House of Assembly in his youthful days where he was not only outspoken but a true representative of his constituency. As an active parliamentarian he was the first to move the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1953 and this did not materialize at that point because of the educationally disadvantaged position of the North in colonial Nigeria.
The ideas of Chief Enahoro received a synthesis with those of other nationalists from other regions of Nigeria such that on October 1, 1960, Nigeria got her independence without resort to war. This marked the beginning of the first republic.
The situation was such that in 1963, the Midwestern region was created out of blebiscite, the only state that have been so credited in modern Nigeria.
As a consequence of the political crises which enveloped the First Republic, the military took over power in 1966 and Nigeria suffered a civil war between 1967 and 1970. Since then, the battle to send the Khakhi boys to their barracks became a herculean task.
Having witnessed successive military regimes, a shaky second and third republic characterized of a prolong transition under the Babangida administration, the Nigerian nation state fell under the strong arms of late maximum ruler, General Sanni Abacha.
At a time when the use of naked force became the best style of the Abacha regime, Chief Enahoro and other Nationalists who saw reason in keeping the hope of the Nigerian nation alive, formed the famous National Democratic Coalition NADECO to bring the country on the track of true democracy.
He, along with several of his members were forced out of the shores of Nigeria where they strategized to fight the Abacha military junta. Their effort was crowned with the death of General Abacha in 1998.
Chief Enahoro, who was at this time in old age returned from exile to contribute meaningfully to the political and socio-economic development of a nation state which he had served at various times. The multiparty system adopted in the Nigerian constitution gave him the opportunity to form the National Reformation Party.
He was however, quick to recognize the need for the many opposition parties to come together under one banner to push the Peoples Democratic Party out of power. The above gave rise to the Mega party talks and debates which he championed until his death.
Aside the ideas which gave birth to the mega party, chief Enahoro was a strong proponent of resource control, true federalism, free, fair and credible elections. These were the basic principles which he pursued vigorously in the complex and fragile Nigeria federation.
Chief Enahoro never believed in political violence as a means of securing power and authority. He was a true democrat who believed in the sanctity of the ballot box and was an elderstatesman per excellence.
Like his fellow nationalists- Sir Ahmadu Bello, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Ladoke Akintola and a host of others, Chief Enahoro died with out experiencing the Nigeria of his dream.
It is sad to note that Nigeria is still being torn apart by ethno religious forces, suffocating under the excruciating heat of poverty in a country that ordinarily has nothing to do with poverty. We are caught up in the mire of corruption, unemployment and its myriads of socio- economic problems.
Virtually all indices of underdevelopment are found in every aspect of our national life. This is a far cry from the ideas of other founding fathers and architects of Nigerian nationalism. In the tradition of Dr. Nkrumah of Ghana, “ seek ye first the political kingdom and all other things will be added unto you”
Now, Chief Enahoro and others including former governor Ambrose Alli of defunct Bendel state are been remembered by the President Muhammadu Buhari administration with a presidential pardon. There is no doubt that the ideas of the departed will continue to live on.
These ideas must be kept aglow by those who seek to enthrone a strong, indivisible nation established on genuine democracy and the rule of law. They died leaving befitting legacies for students of history, politics, philosophy and statesmen.
In a statement issued by the family of Late Chief Anthony Enahoro on the Presidential pardon by Otunba Eugene Enahoro, it was noted that a state pardon is an act of the executive to set right some wrongs of the past.
“It is an acceptance that some things need to be rectified. Therefore we want to appreciate President Buhari for addressing the issue. All sons and daughters of former Midwest, Bendel and Edo in particular should appreciate this gesture as a formal recognition of the public service rendered by these true sons of Esan land,” the statement added.
Eubaldus Enahoro is Editor of the Nigerian Observer