Awo Memorial Lecture: Leaders Harp On Good Governance •As Tinubu, Daniel, Balarabe Musa, Others Unite


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 edition.

Accordingly, they used the opportunity to harp on good governance and visionary leadership as epitomised by Awolowo.

The 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.  

The 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.

While 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 honour.

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. Greater woes!”

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.

According 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.”

He 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 of office.
“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.”

She 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.

She 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.”

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 selection committee.

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 Mabogunje.

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 Adegbonmire.

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.

Other 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.

Also 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.

Others 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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