Chief Enahoro-C.F.R, D.Sc. (Hon.), Adolor of Uromi. Chief Enahoro was a hero of Nigerian independence and leader of NADECO, the major pro-democracy organization calling for recognition of the June 12, 1993 presidential election won by Moshood Abio.la. In 1996, the same year, Chief Enahoro himself was the target of Abacha’s assassination squad, from which he narrowly escaped. His “offense” was to have offered to help convene a dialogue between the democracy movement and the junta. (The same squad murdered Kudirat Abio.la later that year.)
A journalist by profession, Chief Enahoro learned 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 experiences, Chief Enahoro was elected to the Western House of Assembly and to the transitional parliament as a member of O.bafe.mi Awolo.wo.’s party, the Action Group. In 1953 he moved the Crisis Motion for Nigeria’s self-government, opposing the British “go-slow” policy, and spurring the eventual handover of state power on October 1st, 1960. He served as a delegate to the constitutional talks which preceded flag-independence. In the Western Regional Government led by Chief Awolo.wo., 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 O.bafe.mi Awolo.wo. 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 for Information, as well as leader of the Nigerian delegation to the United Nations General Assembly.
While the unfinished struggle of Nigerian nationalists continued into the 21st century, Chief Enahoro’s sharp and creative mind continued to rethink some of the foundational and unresolved issues of the constitution, of the proper function of states and regionalism, and of the role of Africa’s legitimate and enduring ethnic nationalities in a democratic political system.
Date & place of birth
22 July 1923, Uromi (present-day Esan North East Local Government of E.do State in Nigeria).
Chief Okotako Enahoro, Princess Inibokun Okoje.
Government School (Uromi), Government School (Owo), King’s College (Lagos). Courses and training in Journalism, Government etc. (London & elsewhere).
Helen Imayuse, née Ediae, born 8 January 1933, daughter of Chief Ediae Idahose, the Aiwero.ba of Benin.
Date of marriage
10 January 1954.
One daughter, four sons.
“Zik: Saint or Sinner” (pamphlet, 1950). Fugitive Offender (book, Cassells, London, 1965). “Nigeria at 30: Reflections” (pamphlet, 1991).
D.Sc. (Honoris Causa), Political Science, University of Benin, 1973. Commander of the Order of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (C.F.R.), 1982. Grand Officer of the Order of Merit, Central African Republic, 1973. Grand Star of the Order of the Nation, Senegal. First Class Officer of the Order of the Two Niles, Sudan. Other honors from Ethiopia, Uganda and elsewhere.
Sub-Editor, West African Pilot, Lagos, 1943-44.
Chairman, Nigerian Union of Students, 1943-44.
Editor, Southern Nigerian Defender, Warri, 1944-45.
Editor, Daily Comet, Lagos, 1945-47.
[Thrice imprisoned for sedition during the struggle for independence, in 1946, 1947 and 1949.]
Associate Editor, West African Pilot, Lagos, 1948-49.
General Secretary, Benin-Ondo-Warri Provinces State Movement (BOW Movement), 1949-50.
Editor-in-Chief, Nigerian Star, Sapele, 1950-54.
General Secretary, Midwestern Action Group.
Assistant General Secretary, Action Group Party, 1951-57.
Chairman, Ishan Division Local Government Council, 1951-54.
Chairman, Uromi-Uzea District Local Government Council, 1952-54.
Member, Western House of Assembly, 1952-59.
Member and Action Group Party Chief Whip, Federal House of Representatives, 1952-54.
Director, Nigerian Coal Corporation, 1952-54.
Courses in Parliamentary Government in London, Belfast and Dublin, 1953-54.
Moved Crisis Motion in Federal Parliament for Nigeria’s self-government, 1953.
Delegate, Constitutional Talks Preceding Independence, 1953-59.
Courses in Police Matters, Prisons and Cabinet Government in London, Ottawa, New York and Washington, D.C., 1954-55.
Nigerian Delegate, Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference, 1954.
Minister of Home Affairs, Midwest Affairs and Information, Western Region, 1954-59.
Leader of the House, Western House of Assembly, 1954-59.
Leader of Nigerian Delegations to the Conference of World Parliamentarians and Scientists, Paris 1956 and London, 1957.
Acting General Secretary, Action Group Party, 1957.
Leader, Action Group Party Delegation and Chairman of Steering Committee, All Africa People’s Conference, Accra, 1957.
Installed as the “Adolor of Uromi” (Traditional Chieftaincy Title), 1958.
Chairman, Action Group Party, Midwest Area, 1958-59.
Deputy National President, Action Group Party, 1958-63.
Opposition Spokesman on Foreign Affairs, Internal Affairs and Legislative Affairs, Federal House of Representatives, 1959-62.
Member, Action Group Delegation, All Africa People’s Conference, Tunis, 1960.
Member, Founding Board, University of Ife., 1961-62.
Member, Ife. University Governing Board Delegation to the Soviet Union, 1961.
[In detention during Emergency Period in the Western Region, 1961.]
[Political exile in Ghana and Britain, 1963.]
[Extradited from Britain and sentenced to 13 years’ imprisonment for “Treasonable Felony”, 1963.]
[Released by Federal Military Government after the Second Coup d’État, 1966.]
Leader, Midwestern State Delegation, Ad Hoc National Constitutional Conference, 1966.
Federal Commissioner [Minister] for Information, Labour, Cultural Affairs, Sports and Cooperatives, 1967-75.
Leader of Nigerian Delegation to the United Nations General Assembly, 1967.
Federal Spokesman and Leader of the Federal Delegation, Civil War Peace Talks, London, Kampala, Addis Ababa, 1968-69.
Member of the Nigerian Delegations to OAU Heads of State Conferences, 1968-74.
Leader of Nigerian Delegation, Annual International Labour Organization (ILO) Assembly, Geneva, 1968-75.
International President, 2nd World Festival of Black and African Arts and Culture (FESTAC), 1972-75.
Life President, Nigerian Professional Golfers’ Association, 1972-.
Advisor, Nigerian Delegation, Commonwealth Heads of Government Conference, London, 1973.
Federal Commissioner (Minister) for Special Duties, 1975.
Chairman, National Party of Nigeria, Bendel State Branch, 1978-80.
Chairman, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, 1982.
Deputy Chairman, E.do State Movement, 1982-84.
National Chairman, Movement for National Reformation (MNR), 1992-.
Co-Chairman and Steering Committee Chairman, National Democratic Coalition of Nigeria (NADECO), 1993-98.
[In political exile, United States of America, 1996-1998.]
Chairman, World Congress of Free Nigerians (WCFN), 1996-.
National Leader, National Democratic Coalition of Nigeria (NADECO), 1998-.
Benin Club, Benin City; Ikoyi Club, Lagos; Ike.ja Golf Club, Lagos State.
-This biography was prepared from the CV which Chief Enahoro provided for the program booklet of a reception at Harvard University on 30 May 1998, chaired by Enahoro and hosted by Benin Club of Massachusetts and E.do O.kpamakhin in honor of Ambassador Walter Carrington.