|Chief Obafemi Awolowo|
THE sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, on Friday, in Lagos became the
rallying point for leaders of a beleaguered nation, Nigeria, as eminent
citizens from all parts of
the country converged on the city for his post-humous lecture, the 2012
Accordingly, they used the opportunity to harp on good governance and visionary leadership as epitomised by Awolowo.
venue of the lecture, NECA House in Ikeja, literally overflowed as
leading politicians, jurists, academics, diplomats, monarchs, industry
captains, activists and people from other walks of life came together to
reminisce on his life and times, as well as his legacies.
roll call of traditional rulers included the Ooni of Ife, Oba Okunade
Sijuwade; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar; Emir of
Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero; Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji Ibrahim Sulu Gambari;
Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris; the Obi of Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka
Achebe; Amayanabo of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas Jaja; Amayanabo of
Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru and the Orodje of Okpe, King Mudjakpero.
governors of Niger, Ogun, Osun, Ondo, Lagos were ably represented, all
former governors of Edo and the six governors in the South-West,
including immediate past ones, attended the lecture delivered by
Professor Toyin Falola of the University of Texas in Austin, United
States of America.
His lecture was entitled, Power Politics or
Welfare Politics?: Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the History of African
Nationalist Political Thought with the Second Republic governor of
Kaduna State, Alhaji Balarabe Musa, as chairman, while the Governor of
Niger State governor, Dr. Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu, was the chief guest of
Balarare who, in an opening remark, set the tone of the
lecture, lamented the vast opportunities the country had continued to
miss for not imbibing the enduring virtues of Awolowo as an elder
statesman, politician and visionary.
Emphasising what he saw
as the Awo credo, the former governor declared that it remained pivotal
if things must work properly again in the country currently battling
with a seemingly leadership deficit.
Describing the sage as the
most qualitatively outstanding and memorable legend of Nigerian politics
and governance since the 1940s, Musa said Awolowo was the one whose
role in politics and governance could still be a reliable guide for any
first time president though the country lost the opportunity of having
him (Awolowo) as the president.
In advancing the welfare politics
of the sage as the way to go if the country would overcome its
contemporary challenges and predicaments, Professor Falola, on his part,
said at a time when the nation was underdeveloped and with limited
resources, the task of effecting change was tremendous, “and Chief
Awolowo was able to do this through the use of one skill in particular:
visionary leadership. That is precisely what is missing today in the
management of our institutions.”
According to him, “We once
blamed the woes on the British. The British left, but the woes remained.
Then, the politicians were replaced by the military. The woes
continued. Then, we blamed the military and called for democracy.
In the light of the foregoing, the eminent scholar
said now was the time to call for accountablity and visionary
leadership of the type demonstrated by the example of Chief Awolowo.
to Professor Falola, Chief Awolowo believed in Nigeria to the extent
that he dedicated his autobiography not to his wfe of inestimable value,
but to “a new and free Nigeria where individual freedom and more
abundant life are guaranteed to all her citizens. He did not say Nigeria
should collapse into pieces, even when he regarded the space as an
artificial creation of the British.”
He described the doctrine of
the sage as having three components, which are unity of the country,
the existence of a constitution, which is republican in nature, and
progress and development.
According to him, Chief Awolowo
reflected that the business of government is about people. “He insisted
that resources should be devoted to the elimination of poverty.”
said the sage warned that: “Any government that does not enjoy the
goodwill of the people should resign: it must not utilise the people’s
money for the purpose of their enslavement and starvation.”
From his own viewpoint, Professor Falola lamented that public service
had become about accumulation of wealth and personal aggrandizement in
which the leader became the master.
“The state is imperialized,
converting citizens into subjects, resources into private ownership.
Politics is about how to control people and resources, and the game of
politics is how to game opponents to create greater access to the spoils
“The higher the level of power, the more the resources that flow to
private pockets so that the wealthy is the one with the closest access
to the corridors of power. In that environment, power brings wealth,
fame and adulation, not public service.
“If Chief Awolowo were
still alive, he would argue that we need a set of leaders who will be
our servants, not our bosses, who will not ask us to look at their
grandiose houses while we live in shanties, who will endure the same
kind of suffering as the majority of the population, whose children will
attend the same public schools as those of their ‘subjects,’ who will
use the local hospitals when they are sick,” he said.
Earlier in her address, the Executive Director, Chief Obafemi Awolowo
Foundation, Dr Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, said the presence of the
eminent royal fathers across the country as well as the sizable
audience, drawn from all sectors underscored the fact that 25 years
after his transition, Awolowo’s trailblazing leadership kept being
acknowledged and celebrated.
Commending the leadership of the
country at the various levels, Dr Awolowo Dosumu said, “all great
leaders have one characteristic in common: the willingness to confront
unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time.”
disclosed that the establishment of the Obafemi Awolowo Leadership
Prize was aimed at rewarding leadership and good governance, which she
described as the hallmark of Chief Awolowo’s leadership.
described the sage as “a leader who knew the way, went the way, and
showed the way. For him, the growth and development of the people was
the highest calling of leadership.”
According to her, “his
actions, in his lifetime and even today, inspire others to dream more,
learn more, do more and become more. And I think, we can safely assert
that he passes the final test of a leader, which is that he leaves
behind him other men (and women), the conviction and the will to carry
On the mode of selection, for the prize, she said emphasis
would be placed on certain characteristics of leadership and good
governance that were in tandem with Chief Awolowo’s values, adding that
13 criteria had been identified, which would be rigorously evaluated by a
Members of the committee, according to her,
are Justice Muhammed Lawal Uwais, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Professor Anya O.
Anya, Professor Funmi Soetan, Justice Alfa Belgore and Professor Akin
Others are Chief Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Emeka Anyaoku,
Professor Oladipo Adamolekun, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, Prince Bola
Ajibola (SAN), Olorogun Felix Ibru, Bola Akingbade and Mr Adeniyi
The roll call
The Ooni of Ife,
Oba Okunade Sijuwade; the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad
Abubakar; Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero; Emir of Ilorin, Alhaji
Ibrahim Sulu Gambari; Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris; Alakene of
Ikenne, Oba Adeyinka Onakade; His Royal Highness, Oba Abimbola
Fatunmise; His Royal Highness, Oba Taofeek Osunmakinde; the Obi of
Onitsha, Igwe Nnaemeka Achebe; Jaja of Opobo, King Dandeson Douglas
Jaja; Amayanabo of Nembe, King Edmund Daukoru; Orodje of Okpe, King
Mudjakpero. Governor of Lagos State, represented by Special Assistant on
Youth, Sports and Social Development, Dr Dolapo Badru; Governor of Ondo
State, represented by the Commissioner for Special Duties, Hon. Niran
Sule-Akinsuyi; Governor of Niger State, represented by his Commissioner
for Sports, Hon. Hassan Abdullahi and representative of Governor of Ogun
State; and Governor of Osun State represented by Dr. Leke Ipaye.
dignitaries present at the event were former governor of Lagos State,
Senator Ahmed Bola Tinubu; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Gbenga
Daniel; former governor of Lagos State in the Second Republic, Alhaji
Lateef Jakande; former governor of Ogun State, Chief Segun Osoba; former
governor of Osun State, Chief Bisi Akande; former governor of Edo
State, Chief John Odigie Oyegun, who also represented Chief Edwin Clark
and former deputy governor of Lagos State, Alhaja Sinatu Ojikutu.
present were Professor Ben Nwabueze (SAN); Justice Muhammad Uwais,
General Alani Akinrinade, Chief Ebenezer Babatope, Professor Akin
Mabogunje, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Senator Daisy Danjuma, Reverend (Mrs)
Tola Oyediran, Senator Oloruninbe Mamora, who also represented Governor
Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State; Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Professor Anya O.
Anya, Professor Gabriel Ogunmola; Vice Chancellor, Lead City University,
Professor Oladimeji Faborode, Professor Jubril Aminu, Ambassador Segun
Apata, Ambassador Segun Olusola, Chief Frederick Fasheun, Senator
Olabiyi Durojaiye, Mr Ayo Opadokun, Mr Musliu Smith, Dr Tunji
Braithwaite, Group Captain Salaudeen Latinwo, Reverend Sam Adesua,
MD/EIC, African Newspapers of Nigeria (ANN Plc), Senator Tony Adefuye,
Professor Tunde Babawale, Professor Toyin Falola, Professor Banji
Oyeyinka, Mr Fola Oke, Controller, Human Resources, ANN Plc.
are former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Hon. Justice Muhammed Lawal Uwais;
Professor Akin Mabogunje, Senator Olabiyi Durojaiye, Dr Femi
Okunrounmu; Vice Admiral Akintunde Aduwo (retd.); Prince Bola Ajibola,
represented by Mr M. A. Dabiri; Prof. E.O. Akanki, Hon Wale Osun, Prof.
A. O. Popoola, Hon Justice Bage, Mr Tokunbo Ajasin, Archbishop and
Bishop (Mrs) George Amu, Prof. D.O.S. Noibi, Mr Bisi Olatawura, Abiola
Jobi-Fele, Dr K.K. Oloso, Prof. Adigun Agbaje, Prof Ayo Banjo, Chief
(Mrs) Adenike Grange, Prof. Ayo Olukotun, Hon Onasanya Solaja, Chief
Bayo Fadoju, Comrade Wole Aina and Mrs Rose Rewane-Dafinone.
Culled from: Saturday Tribune
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