Nigerians Celebrate Peter Enahoro, Media Icon in Death

Nigerians Celebrate Peter Enahoro, Media Icon in Death

Forty-eight after his passage in the United Kingdom, it has has been a deluge of tributes and celebration even in death of a media Icon, Peter Enahoro; a man who recorded several industry feats and brought respect to the profession of journalism in Nigeria. There are journalists and there are super journalists. Peter Osajele Aizegbeobor

Forty-eight after his passage in the United Kingdom, it has has been a deluge of tributes and celebration even in death of a media Icon, Peter Enahoro; a man who recorded several industry feats and brought respect to the profession of journalism in Nigeria.

There are journalists and there are super journalists. Peter Osajele Aizegbeobor Enahoro, officially known as Peter Enahoro and popularly called, Peter Pan, his pen name, was unarguably one of Nigeria’s most influential journalists. He was an encyclopaedia, an iconic journalist, and a wordsmith. Fearless and unassuming.

For seven years, he captured the consciousness of the movers and shakers of the society with his brilliant and courageous columns which won him the admiration even of those at the receiving end of his witty satires. Late Enahoro used his column to prick the conscience of many Nigerian government officials and politicians.

One of those who knew him, Kayode Soyinka who worked with him as General Editor of Enahoro’s African Now magazine recalls that the late media guru had built a big reputation for himself as a gadfly in the conscience of the nation with his writings. His words: “When you read Peter Enahoro, you cannot but admire his mastery of the language. His effective use of satire can crack the ribs, as could be experienced by reading his bestseller: “How to be a Nigerian”.

He started his media career as an Assistant Publicity Officer, at what is now called Federal Ministry of Information in 1954.
Later, joined the Daily Times as a sub-editor in 1955, at the age of 20, before moving on to serve as Assistant District Manager at Rediffusion Services, Ibadan, in 1957.
He became the Editor of the Nigerian Sunday Times in 1958 at the age of 23, the Features Editor of the Daily Times in 1958, the Editor of the Paper in 1962, and the Daily Times Group Editorial Adviser in 1965.

In 1966, he became Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Times.
In the 1960s, Mr. Enahoro went into a self-imposed exile that would last for 13 years.
Peter Pan was Contributing Editor of Radio Deutsche Welle in Cologne, Germany, from 1966 to 1976, Editor of National Zeitung, in Basel, Switzerland, and Editorial Director of New African magazine in London in 1978.

Naturally, he was loved and hated because of the way he wrote his column. But he did not care. Rather, instead of the weekly appearance of the column, he added two other days and ran the columns for years. Until he resigned after the 1966 coup in which he said some of his best friends, people he went to school with got killed, late Enahoro said: “I was writing Monday, Wednesday and Saturday and everybody said it was too frequent, you won’t be able to keep it up, you won’t be able to keep the interest going.

“It was a delicate time for me but I was lucky: Instead of going down I went up with the Peter Pan column and Peter Pan overshadowed everything else, overshadowed the fact that I had been the youngest editor of the Sunday Times and infact it remained throughout the life of the paper, the first Nigerian to be Group Editorial Adviser and so on and then after, I was appointed the Group Editor-in-Chief.

His position as Editor-in-Chief of the then largest newspaper in the continent made those in power to court him. Everybody who was somebody wanted to be in his good books but being a fearless journalist, he had no favourite. Hear him in one of the interviews he granted before he passed on:” I can say that I made no permanent enemies in the political class during those seven years. On the contrary, the leaderships in particular went out of their way to be courteous, even more than that in some cases.

“The Sardauna of Sokoto said in a statement that “Israel does not exist.” Peter Pan ridiculed the assertion, reminding the Sokoto Prince and Premier of the North that the Federal Government in which his NPC party was a senior partner had diplomatic relations with the state of Israel. It entertained the nation that Saturday. But what was the Sardauna’s response when I met him face-to-face? He invited me to tour the Northern Region as his official guest and received me in his hometown, where he took me to visit the graves of his ancestors. I was told this was an honour”.

A thorough-bred professional journalist, he spoke truth to power and espoused noble virtues of diligence, hard work and intellectual rigour. Three of his four books succinctly captured the real Peter Pan. For example, it would be difficult to read “How to be a Nigerian” without laughing and perhaps cracking one’s ribs. Same for “The Complete Nigerian” and “Then Spoke the Thunder”. The three books are loaded from the beginning with wit and wise sayings.

President Buhari, Tinubu, Others Give Tributes
President Muhammadu Buhari said the late Peter Enahoro earned public trust by his fearless writings, tenacity, and commitment to the pursuit of truth. He recognises that the passion of the former Editor-in-Chief/Managing Director of the Daily Times, Assistant Publicity Officer, Department (now Federal Ministry) of Information and Pioneer Chairman, Nigerian Broadcasting Commission for public service was second to none, and he used his knowledge and mastery to mentor people, who have also added value to journalism practice in the country.

In a statement, the President urged those who mourn the demise of the compatriot to reflect on his contributions to the country and build on the many honours credited to him for journalistic excellence.

The President-elect, Bola Tinubu, in a statement signed by Tunde Rahman, Enahoro’s immense contribution to Nigeria’s march towards nationhood as a prominent journalist of his era was acknowledged. Tinubu described him as a patriot who dedicated his entire career to advocating for a better Nigeria where every citizen can find joy and fulfilment.

“An author, businessman, and publisher, Mr Enahoro will be remembered and forever cherished for his unwavering belief in the greatness of Nigeria and for using the instrumentality of media practice to promote good governance, the rule of law, and social justice in our country,” Tinubu stated.

For Governor Godwin Obaseki of Edo State the deceased as a national treasure, who secured his place in history in the feisty early years of Nigeria’s nationhood. “He was a cerebral journalist, who deployed his intellect in the service of the country, providing and nurturing the space for healthy debates on national policies that impact the lives of the people,” Obaseki stressed.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, described his death as a colossal loss to journalism and the media industry in Nigeria. Governor Sanwo-Olu said the rich experience and knowledge of the late Enahoro, described as “perhaps Africa’s best-known international journalist” will be sorely missed.

Journalism teacher and veteran journalist, Dr. Dayo Duyile said: “when I came into journalism in 1962, he was the man who interviewed me in Daily Times and appointed me as a reporter. Our relationship was very intimate. He was loved and hated because of the way he wrote his column. His death is a shock but everybody will go away.”

President, Nigerian Guild of Editor (NGE), Mr. Mustapha Isah, said: “The death came to us as a shock. It is a big loss to the media industry in Nigeria. We are going to miss him greatly. He continued, “the best way to mourn him is that we must remain professional in carrying out our duties. Upcoming journalists can learn from his exemplary lifestyle by being principled”.

President, Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) Chief Chris Isiguzo said :“we are deeply pained by the news of a foremost journalists who I will describe as a national treasure. He fought for an egalitarian society. He ventured into journalism at a very early age from where he rose rapidly to the highest profession in the 60’s. He was the Editor of Sunday Times at 23. He later became the Editor of Daily Times. It simply means he was committed to his career, he was not distracted.”

Aged 88, Peter Enahoro died in London on Monday.

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