Punch, January29, 2010
by Semiu Okanlawon
Setting in motion the process which culminated in the granting of independence by the colonial authorities was a big historical achievement. That, perhaps, explained why there had been controversies over the decades over who exactly moved the motion for independence. While elder statesman, Chief Anthony Enahoro, is usually credited with moving the motion, some others had pointed to the fact that the really successful motion for the independence was moved by another parliamentarian, the late Chief Remi Fani-Kayode.
Available records show that while Enahoro moved his historical motion in 1953 asking for independence for the country in 1956, his motion was defeated on the floor of the House by northern members of the parliament and was also not accepted by the British authorities. But then, Enahoro had set a process in motion which was followed up by Chief Samuel Akintola in 1957 when he moved another motion asking for independence in 1959. This was accepted by the parliamentarians, but rejected by the British authorities. Then came the turn of Fani-Kayode in 1958 to move a motion for independence on April 2, 1960 which then succeeded both on the floor of the House and was also accepted by the British authorities.
However, there was an amendment to this motion in 1959 by Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa who suggested a new date of October 1, 1960 which was agreed upon by the House and the British authorities. Fani-Kayode‘s son, Femi, who was a minister for Aviation during the Obasanjo regime, said of the controversies that had followed the credit for the motion that led to the country‘s independence, ”Anybody who is well-informed would know what the facts are. Regardless of the political divide you are, it does not matter. Facts are there. You can dislike the facts because you don‘t like the person who made history but nobody can dispute the roles each individual played. It is a matter of public records.”
For him, there is significance in the manner in which the motions graduated till the process was completed. The first motion was moved by a Mid-Westerner; the second by Westerner and the third by another Westerner which was seconded by an Easterner, Raymond Njoku while the last one which was an amendment was moved by a Northerner. Enahoro, in an interview with our correspondent in Benin, Edo State on Monday, admitted the role played by Fani-Kayode.”My motion was an eye opener and subject of discussion for many years up till now,” he said. Putting it correctly, it would be apt to say that while Enahoro blazed the trail, the really successful motion was moved by Fani-Kayode.