There are some folks whose lives intersect with yours even in case you by no means meet them within the flesh. Certainly one of these was Peter Osajele Aizegbeobor Enahoro, the Nigerian journalist who was additionally identified by his pen identify, Peter Pan. Enahoro died on 24 April 2023 in London, aged 88. He had labored in Nigeria from 1954 to 1967.
As a journalist and journalism trainer, I’ve adopted his profession – considered one of skilled excellence and achievements. He was a daring journalist who was not afraid to say what he thought was proper.
Enahoro served as subeditor, options editor, (the Nigerian) Sunday Occasions editor, editor of the Day by day Occasions and editor in chief of Occasions Group. He was to return from exile in 1996 to be the only administrator of the Day by day Occasions underneath a army authorities. He wrote his Peter Pan column first within the Sunday Occasions. When he was appointed the editor of the day by day paper, the column was transferred there.
By the point he began his profession, the battle in opposition to colonialism had been fought and received. The duty was to demand good governance. He understood this very properly. He put his satirical pen to full service and took common digs at political leaders of the interval.
Born on 21 January 1935, he got here from a well-heeled and well-known political household in Uromi, now in Edo State. His mother and father have been educationists and he was considered one of 10 siblings. His elder brother, Anthony Enahoro,
was additionally a journalist and nationalist. He was famend because the parliamentarian who moved the primary movement for Nigeria’s independence in 1953. One other well-known sibling was additionally a journalist: Mike Enahoro, who died in 2015, was a broadcaster of observe within the Eighties.
After his secondary college schooling, as was the apply throughout his time, Peter Enahoro joined the federal government service as assistant publicity officer within the Division of Info. There he confirmed his expertise as an inquisitive officer whose abilities went past simply writing authorities statements.
Like most journalists of his time, he by no means obtained a college schooling.
An incredible journalist
Enahoro turned maybe the youngest Nigerian journalist to edit a nationwide newspaper, Day by day Occasions, in 1962. He was 27.
The editor of Day by day Occasions, one other legendary Nigerian journalist, Biodun Aloba, had noticed him taking over a politician at a press convention and invited him to hitch the paper, then owned by the Day by day Mirror of London.
It was the start of Enahoro’s rise to change into “maybe Africa’s best-known worldwide journalist”, as Frank Barton described him in his e book The Press in Africa.
As editor of Sunday Occasions in Nigeria (from 1958) and later the flagship Nigerian paper of the interval, Day by day Occasions (succeeding Babatunde Jose), he was unsparing of politicians and troopers who have been on the helm of affairs within the nation. By the point the army struck on 15 January 1966, reducing brief the elected authorities that had ushered the nation into independence, he had change into a family identify whose pen was feared by these in energy.
Enahoro and his managing director, Jose, have been on reverse sides of the divide in politics. Samuel Ladoke Akintola was the premier then of the western area in Nigeria. In line with Jose’s account in his memoir Strolling a Tight Rope, “Peter didn’t agree with my pro-Akintola stand and I instructed him from the beginning that he had the liberty to specific his views in his Peter Pan column, however that the editorial column of the Day by day Occasions would mirror my stand.” (web page 207). This by no means in any method affected their relationship.
Enahoro escaped from Nigeria in 1966, fearing for his life after the 15 January coup, as said in his memoir. In Germany and later Britain, his profession blossomed and his identify turned well-known everywhere in the world by means of his work in publications equivalent to Africa, New African and his personal, which he referred to as Africa Now.
A protracted shadow
Enahoro was lengthy gone from Nigeria by the point I turned a journalist within the mid-Eighties however his popularity loomed giant. Journal publishing was flourishing at the moment. Many youthful journalists of the day turned keen on worldwide reporting due to Peter Pan’s instance and success.
In 2015, when he turned 80, whereas reflecting on the position of the media in nationwide growth, he instructed the Day by day Belief that newspapers
are excellent at saying what’s fallacious. However we aren’t but excellent at suggesting what could be finished to heal it in order that we don’t change into a part of the issue.
He knew that making options to these in energy had repercussions. He misplaced his job.
Romance with a dictator
Part of his life that he solely touched on in his memoir was his return to Nigeria in 1996 to work for the federal government of the late dictator Sani Abacha. The identical authorities had declared his older brother Anthony a wished man.
In his memoir Then Spoke the Thunder (2009) he tried to justify his acceptance of the provide to “take over the Day by day Occasions”. Enahoro accepted the provide made to him by Tom Ikimi, the then international affairs minister within the Abacha junta. He mentioned he accepted the provide after Augustus Aikhomu, retired army chief and his kinsman, instructed him: “They need you to come back and clear up the mess in Day by day Occasions … Your nation wants you.”
His acceptance eroded the respect some had for him. He was appointed in 1996 and did the job for lower than two years.
For his incisive writings and commentaries, Enahoro’s seat within the pantheon of journalism in Nigeria is assured, his latter-day romance with the army however.