Nigeria’s renowned scholar, political activist and labour unionist, Professor Eskor Toyo who will be laid to rest in his Akwa Ibom state on Saturday has earned a deserved praise for his national struggles from President Muhammadu Buhari.
In a tribute today, Buhari described him as a role model whose guiding principle was to live for the good of less privileged people.
President Buhari believed that Toyo will be long remembered as a fearless advocate who never stopped confronting the problems of social injustice, discrimination and poverty in Nigeria.
He said Toyo had left a worthy legacy for patriotic Nigerians to emulate, with his tireless efforts and advocacy on many issues central to the prosperity of Nigeria, including social justice, human rights and the war against corruption.
The President hoped that Prof. Toyo will be eternally honoured and celebrated for his life-long commitment to a better Nigeria and Africa, and as a fountain of knowledge who was a great mentor and role model to his students and admirers.
Born as Asuquo Ita, 86 years ago, Eskor Toyo died 7 December 2015 in Calabar. He lived in the city for decades as a teacher at the university.
He was a teacher who taught the famous Peoples Advocate, Chief Gani Fawenhinmi at Victory College, Ikare and was a Personnel Manager at Lever Brothers/UAC before plunging into full revolutionary work especially in the trade unions where he was a consummate organizer along with people like Michael Imoudu, Wahab Goodluck, M.E. Kolagbodi and Baba Omojola.
He went for further studies in Eastern Europe and returned home with a doctorate. In a tribute by trade unionist and journalist, Owei Lakemfa, Toyo, while being an academic and revolutionary participated in partisan national politics, joining the Peoples Redemption Party (PRP) in the Second Republic in what was called ‘Entrism’.
” This was the term used for revolutionaries who while advocating that the ‘decadent capitalist system should be overthrown’ enter or join liberal or ‘bourgoise’ non revolutionary parties. It was in the heat of the debates in the Labour Movement over the appropriateness of ‘Entrism’ that Eskor in dismissing the arguments of his opponents, was quoted as uttering his popular remark “Eskor shall not pontificate; Eskor shall polemicise!” This was seen as an attempt to dispel an assumed Eskor trait; the tendency to pontificate and make declarations rather than make arguments. But this was not true of Eskor as he was wont to make painstaking arguments and go to great lengths to convince.”
”Eskor set out early in his youth to contribute to an independent, prosperous Nigeria based on egalitarianism and social justice. He struggled for a country that will be a leading light for the rest of Africa. A Nigeria where nobody will go to bed hungry; every child will have a right to education and every citizen, the right to basic needs including a roof over the head.
”His dream of a prosperous Nigeria and Africa were not fulfilled before he passed away on December 7, 2015 at 86. But his life is an example of exemplary dedication and patriotism. Those who may snigger that the ideology he dedicated his life to, is outdated which was why the Socialist bloc collapsed, are mistaken. The fractious, confused, unequal and dangerous world we live in today cannot be the alternative. Humanity will need to rise above the prevailing ideas which have produced chaos, terrorism, mass misery, cyclic global financial problems and unimaginable refugee crises, to build an egalitarian world based on freedom, peace and social justice. These are precisely the principles Eskor Toyo lived and died for. These are the reasons why selfless people like him will not die in our hearts.”