Continued from yesterday
Awolowo’s excellence in planning and executing policy decisions remain unequalled. That was why he blazed the trail or scored first in the formulation and execution of spectacular matters; first to introduce free universal primary education in Nigeria; first Television in sub-Sahara Africa; first standard stadium (now Obafemi Awolowo), first tallest storey-building in Nigeria (Cocoa House, Ibadan), biggest firm settlements in Nigeria etc. Of course, according to Chief Ayo Adebanjo, “Every programme Awo implemented had a philosophy behind it.”
The qualities of Papa Awolowo’s leadership included unequalled industry and intellect, courage, value for time and choice of excellent thinkers. In his life time, Chief Awolowo had around him great brains, intellectual giants and experts in their various chosen disciplines such as: Professor Hezekiah Oluwasanmi, Prof. Sam Aluko, Professor David Oke, Prof. S. Banji Akintoye, Professor Akin Mabogunje, Professor Ambrose Alli, Chief Wumi Adegbonmire and many others. That was the reason he was always on top of the current issues of his time, regardless of the subject matter.
Of a truth, Chief Obafemi Awolowo belonged to the group of statesmen whose policies governed the people, rulers who issued decrees, scholars who spoke wise words, and those who used pointed proverbs, those who were famous in their own times, honoured by the people of their day, those who left a reputation, and people still praise them today. Little wonder that Chief Obafemi Awolowo is the only former Nigeria leader whose name continues repeatedly to open and close doors in the political permutation of the South West in Nigeria today, even 30 years after his transition to the great beyond. There is no doubt that Chief Awolowo’s political sagacity will continue to be a reference point for winning election in the South Western part of Nigeria in the years ahead.
It is very sad that the exit of Chief Obafemi Awolowo has led to the emergence of political parties in our nation without proper political ideological configuration. I have not seen any political party that has outclassed Chief Awolowo’s Four-Cardinal Programmes of the Unity Party of Nigeria, (UPN) namely:-
Free Education Programme;
Free Medical Services;
Gainful Employment; And
Integrated Rural Development;
Today, aspirants into various political offices merely talk about seven or six or 5-point Agenda, as mere rhetoric without full understanding of what they are talking about. Little wonder, Professor Tope Alonge of the University College Hospital described our politicians who claim today to be doing what Chief Awolowo did as merely having slogans but without any structures. That is why our politicians today are mere chameleons and fair weather politicians.
It is very sad for somebody to have been part of an administration or government for 16 years, and because he has lost out to another political party in election to now be describing his former political party as corrupt, reckless or irresponsible. It is only in Nigeria this can happen, where people have no sense of shame; and are only out for personal monetary gain and not to serve the overall good of their country.
Since elections have been won and lost in the United Kingdom, I have never heard that members of different political parties are cross-carpeting from Labour to Conservative; or from Democrat to Republican in the United States of America. Those are countries whose party members operate on political ideologies, unlike Nigeria where politics is a profession with the aim of joining the political party that offers the higher pay. What a shame!
That is why I pity many of our politicians who have wasted the destiny of this nation, thinking that they are clever, jumping from one political party to another, claiming they are on a rescue mission in this nation; when in actual fact, they are only on a mission of self-survival and relevance. They are not clever. Except they ask for forgiveness, they will suffer the consequences of their wrongdoings against this nation together with their upcoming generations.
For Chief Awolowo, politics is not about what you can acquire or gain, but an opportunity to serve others to live quality life. Chief Ebenezer Babatope captured this truth about Papa Awolowo when I listened to him on the NTA Programme: “Point Blank” on Thursday, 17 March, 2005. For him there were three cardinal principles fundamental to Papa’s concept of politics/service:
- Don’t go into politics to enrich yourself.
- Don’t take gratification from anybody.
- Don’t collude with the civil servants to defraud the government.
Indeed, nobody who practises these three things will ever misfire or lose focus of his mission statement. Papa Awolowo was not thinking of what to grab from Nigeria. He was not even thinking of how to spend the church’s money. He was not only concerned for the prosperity of Nigeria, he was equally concerned for the prosperity of the church. No wonder, he was the one who mooted the idea of the Diocesan Investment and Endowment Committee to ensure that the Diocese of Remo is a self-sustaining church.
Indeed, Papa Awolowo has died, yet he continues to speak, and he is being celebrated and praised today by the present generation because his works of yesteryears have become our reference points for whatever any politician in the South West want to do today. So also is our investment-drive in the Diocese can be traced to the financial ingenuity of Papa. This is the man, after which Obafemi Memorial Anglican Church, Ikenne has been named. Brothers and sisters, what will you be remembered for after your death or when you have left that office?
Conclusion: Papa Awolowo is being remembered or celebrated by different people, for the simple fact that he had worked while it was day. The night has come, when he could no longer work. If God has put you in a leadership and privileged position today, that is your day. By the time you are removed from that office, you may not be able to redeem the time, and that will be your night.
Hence, your night is not only after death. So whether you are a politician, civil servant, clergyman, work in such a way that the oncoming generation will be able to testify concerning your work that, though you are out of office or dead, but through the legacies you are leaving behind, people will thank God for bringing you into the world and serving your generation creditably well.
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