Eskor Toyo, thinker And activist, journeys on!
One of Nigeria’s most erudite professors of Political Economy and one of the few remaining genuine great thinkers of the left – Professor Eskor Toyo, died on Monday, December 7, 2015 in Calabar at the age of 86 after having taken ill a year back. He was a philosopher King celebrated both here and abroad as one of the great Marxist exports from Africa in the mould of the late African greats; Prof. Ikenna Nzimiro, Claude Ake, Comrade Dr. Olaoni; Baba Omojola, etc. – A platform, which he used effectively in collaboration with others to interrogate neo-liberal philosophies that attempted and has continued undermining development in Nigeria, Africa and other under-developed nations of the world.
Eskor was not just a teacher, but had his early beginnings deeply rooted in social activism and anchored on the Labour dimensions with his committed participations in the trade union movement of those days and its activities. As a youth, he played active roles in the internal mechanisms of the various trade unions and their federations drafting the first Communiqué of the All African Trade Union Federation in his teen. He was therefore at the beginning not just an ideologue of the popular struggle but also that of the trade Union movement where he truly cut his teeth and took his life’s trajectory and purpose.
He was a highly principled, effective and forthright comrade who gave the various military regimes and dictators both here in Nigeria and abroad deep headaches. He had a very deep passion for Nigeria and the masses especially the downtrodden. His writings were vitriolic as much as they were incisive and assertive. Eskor as most of us called him was a highly cerebral academic and international intellectual. He earned a scholarship from Texaco Overseas that saw him proceeding to London school of Economics where he made history as the first Nigerian to make a first-class degree in Economics from that prestigious institution. He was an outstanding scholar that was well sought after both in the academia and in the corporate world.
He rejected many mouth-watering job offers that came his way abroad and decided that he belonged to the people and masses of Nigeria. He headed home to fulfil a destiny, which he had crafted for himself and pursued tenaciously which is to be a vessel for the creative and vigorous engagement of the occupying colonial powers not only in Nigeria but also throughout Africa and the rest of the developing world.
His instrument of engagement was in sowing himself into the lives of the up and coming generation and engaging the opposing powers intellectually through several publications spanning the entire known spectrum. His publications are masterpieces that have remained ever-green and true today both to the Nigerian situation and to the entire emerging global order. He was one of those that foresaw the dangers to humanity of the economic world order of greed and avarice that had hitherto prevailed and still is prevailing globally.
One of the students and young minds that went through his tutelage was the revered late Chief Gani Fawehinmi – the vibrant incorruptible social crusader. Prof. was Gani’s teacher at Victory College, Ikare from where they forged a bond of comradeship between a master and his pupil that lasted a lifetime.
The Labour movement and the Civil Society movement will not in a hurry forget his contributions to their ideological foundations and his prodding and participation both in the street and in the trenches for the emancipation of Nigerian people from neo-colonialism and from internal oppression. Eskor was born in Oron, Cross Rivers state in 1929. He provided in collaboration with others the moral and intellectual force that the Labour movement and the civil society needed in all its engagements both with their social partners and other sociological forces.
He founded the Socialist Farmers party in conjunction with Pa Otegbeye and others in the 1960s, a platform from which he sought to project and protect the interests of the downtrodden masses of Nigeria then under the grip of internal comprador bourgeoisies who had commandeered the reins of power from the colonial masters. In all social issues, he stood firm and steady, but ready to allow the light of reason to shine upon every issue within the ambits of shared values and expressions.
Eskor Toyo was an unrepentant revolutionary and believes that “the shackles of poverty, underdevelopment and bad leadership that have engulfed Nigeria as a nation since attaining independence cannot be changed unless there is a total revolution in the country”
He described Nigeria as “a country enslaved by poverty and underdevelopment, whose great potentials have been laid waste by successive bad leaderships”
Like a prophet, what he and his group projected as the outcome, is what this nation is experiencing today in diverse forms and manifestations.
It was worrisome that when he took ill, that many Nigerians did not know or never cared. He died a fulfilled man, having fought gallantly for the emancipation of this nation. One of the lessons, which his life taught is that a man of principle lives forever and that the best way to eternity is to sow yourself liberally and abundantly into others – affect lives.
Jimoh Is The Deputy Majority Leader In Lagos State House Of Assembly Representing Apapa Constituency I1
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