The Castle of Legends, a non-governmental and non-profit organisation recently at its maiden inauguration, organised a lecture series to celebrate heroic deeds of Nigerians. Adibe Emenyonu who was at the event, reports
The fiery fighting spirit of renowned nationalist and politician, late Chief Anthony Eromosele Enahoro was stirred up on Saturday, March 26 in Benin, the Edo State capital as eminent Nigerians gathered to posthumously honour him alongside others whose sweat and struggles led to the country’s freedom from British oppression during the colonial era which finally led to her independence in 1960.
Also, honoured at the maiden ceremony included Alhaji Salihu Abubakar Tanko Yakassai, Chief Mbazuluike Amaechi, Senator Obi Nosike Ikpo and former first civilian Governor of Lagos State, Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande respectively, for their nationalist struggles and liberation of the nation.
Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, OFR, born on 5th December, 1926, was honoured because as a Nigerian nationalist and pen-fighter, he fought colonialism and because of his continuous fatherly role in the field of Nigerian politics.
He ventured into politics in the early 1950s when he joined the defunct Northern Element Progressive Union (NEPU). He served as Commissioner for Information, then Forestry, Community Development and Cooperatives and later joined ex-President Shehu Shagari where he served as Special Adviser on National Assembly Matters.
Chief Mbazulike Amaechi, a nationalist and former Aviation Minister in the First Republic, was born on June 16th,1929. During the apartheid struggle in South Africa, Nelson Mandela was said to have lived and stayed with him and his wife for six months in Nigeria. Amaechi is reputed to belong to the vanishing tribe of elder nationalists who, as recalled, put his own life on the line in defense of Nigeria’s foremost nationalist, late Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, by nipping in the bud a lethal plot to attack Zik in Lagos in the 60s, an action which earned him the sobriquet “The Boy is Good”, by the grateful Azikiwe.
Alhaji Lateef Kayode Jakande, a foremost nationalist was born on 23rd of July 1929. He is a veteran journalist and foremost nationalist fighter. As a progressive leader and pacesetter, he added value to the face of good governance in Lagos State from 1979 to 1983 who as governor shunned the opulent comfort of the governor’s official residence and lived in his private house in Ilupeju, and his modest home surrounded by other homes from where he commuted to work in his private Toyota Sedan car. He exemplified the philosophy of Awoism and in acknowledgement he was popularly referred to as (Baba Kekere).
Senator Nosike Ikpo, a foremost nationalist, was born on the 21st of March 1929 at Ibusa, Delta State. He was Secretary of the Ibusa Union which launched him into the public affairs of Nigeria. He was an active member of the Zikist Movement. Obi Ikpo was elected into the Senate on the platform of UPN in 1979 and again in 1983 on the platform of NPN. Since the collapse of the Second Republic, the two-time senator of the federal republic has been giving leadership in community service to his people and holds the highest traditional title in Ibusa (The Eze title) and has remained a strong voice in the politics of Delta State and Nigeria.
In their various presentations, the different speakers during the ceremony which was laced with sober reflections and the country’s socio-political and economic journey also called for compulsory teaching and learning of history at all levels of institutions of learning across the country.
Alhaji Lateef Jakande who was represented at the event by HRH Oba Rufus Olarenwaju, Oba of Gbomina-Ekiti, Edo State Governor Godwin Obaseki and President of Castle of Legends Initiative and Esogban of Benin Kingdom, Chief David Edebiri as well as other speakers called for the naming of the nation’s Green Chamber of the National Assembly after Chief Enahoro to immortalise him for moving the critical motion that gave Nigeria her independence and for all that he did for the country’s growth and development.
Flowing from this, Governor Obaseki promised scholarship award to all indigenes of the state to study history to PhD level even as he described late Chief Enahoro as an icon, a fiery journalist and a true nationalist who etched his name on the sands of time for the good of all.
Besides, he revealed the readiness of his administration to reintroduce the teaching of History as a subject in schools in the state to allow the young generation learn about the labours of past heroes.
Nonetheless, he said the state-owned tertiary institutions would be equipped to teach Bini history, while scholarships would be awarded to postgraduate students interested in studying Bini history for their doctorate degrees.
Noting that the knowledge of history was at its lowest ebb in the country, especially among the younger generation, Obaseki said History would be taught alongside with Social Studies.
He tasked lawmakers at the National Assembly and all stakeholders in the country’s project to ensure that Chief Anthony Enahoro is named after the House of Representatives before the end of the year, stressing that citizens must strive towards remembering the past in order to appreciate the present and to move into the future.
Chief David Edebiri in his lecture titled ‘Immortalising Our Heroes Past: Nigerian Nationalists In Focus’ and presentation of a book entitled ‘The Role of Militant Youths In The Struggle For Nigerian Independence: Tony Enahoro As a Case Study,’ articulated the pains, sufferings, imprisonment and deaths suffered by some of the nationalists including Chief Enahoro but without regard nor recognition by both past and present governments.
He recalled with nostalgia that majority citizens who are not worth celebrating today have their names on major streets and roads but none has bothered to reflect on the grueling experiences and costly sacrifices made by past heroes just for the country to secure her freedom and remain great.
Alhaji Jakande who was represented by Oba Rufus Olanrewaju, challenged all parents and wards to teach their children historical lessons and harped on the imperatives of teaching it as a course of study in various institutions.
The former Lagos state governor had represented his award in an appreciation of the late Oba Erediauwa and to Governor Obaseki with a charge “to always be pro-people of the state.”
He said “We have actually come back home. We have come back home to seek for our brothers. Teach your children on how to know history and to make it a course of study in universities, secondary schools and primary schools.”
Responding on behalf of other awardees, Yakassai pledged that they would continue to contribute their quota towards the good of the nation.
He noted that it was rare in the country to recognise living heroes and leaders who have made positive contributions to nation’s growth.
“By honouring us alive the philosophy has manifested about what people feel and know about us,” he said.
On his part, Chairman of the occasion and Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Hon. Justin Okonoboh said late Chief Enahoro remains a man Nigerians would not cease to remember and promised the resolve of legislators in the state to stand by the noble ideals of members of the Castle of Legends Initiative for their bold step in according honour to past and present heroes.
He said Enahoro was everything to the nation as “a very intelligent personality through his wonderful piece of motion” which he added must be circulated to all lawmakers across the country to further appreciate what it takes to be a hero and patriot.
In his welcome address read on behalf of Chief Edebiri by the chairman of the local organising committee (LOC) Prince Julius Akhanoba, he extolled the virtues of late Enahoro and his other contemporaries who made Nigeria proud through their dogged fight and crusade against oppressive tendencies of British government and the struggle for freedom.
He stressed the need for socio-political and economic reinvigoration and re-energise togetherness among society.
High point of the event was the unveiling of a life-sized statue of Chief Anthony Enahoro, erected by the Castle of Legends Initiative at the foreground of the Edo State House of Assembly complex by Governor Obaseki.