Awolowo’s legacy and Nigeria’s loss

SOCIAL media and everywhere else went into frenzy as  controversy raged on  the question whether the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo (SAN) could have come short of becoming president because he did not accept the Christian faith, as claimed by respected Pastor D. K Olukoya. It is necessary to set the facts straight. Chief Awolowo in his books would always quote Jesus Christ and Paul. He drew inspiration from the Bible during his lifetime and during his trials would discuss the trials of Paul the Apostle. His book, My March through Prison, recounts various times he prayed in prison and was in possession of a Bible. He attended the Methodist Church on occasions. He was devout and he was a Christian who at no point said he was otherwise. Whether he was a Christian or not, it is important to examine if the religion of other world leaders hampered their ascent to power. Nelson Mandela, the hero of South Africa, till today has not been identified with any religion. Yet, he was one of the best leaders by the standards of the world. The Chinese National Party that has led China to world greatness. They have atheism as an official policy.

Did Mandela need to give his life to Christ before he secured victory at the polls? Did Fidel Castro of Cuba need to do same? There are several notable Presidents in the world who had no religious views yet delivered on the aim of governance. In fact,  that Chief Awolowo was considered a Christian contributed to his electoral  loss as much of the North which is predominantly Muslim was won by other candidates that were not Christian. Chief Awolowo was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, the Premier of the Western Region and also a Minister of Finance. Just one of these attainments would be destiny fulfilment for millions of individuals. It is rather curious that a man who rose to such heights could still be considered as not having fulfilled destiny.  Today, the country is being plagued by problems Awolowo had it in his policies and programme to solve. Many of these are discussed in his various books.

For instance, Chief Awolowo in his lifetime discussed trading meat internationally and he charted a solution to what has now become the migrant herdsmen crisis. This crisis claims lives whenever it occurs between herdsmen and farmers. Perhaps if there was a president earlier that addressed this concern, Nigeria would not be losing so many souls in these clashes. Herdsmen would rather have been an income generating source today, trading beef with other countries. Argentina makes a lot of profit from this same cause of mass deaths in Nigeria. It is interesting that even talking about the railway that President Jonathan, and President Buhari after him, have been unable to deliver on fully yet, Chief Awolowo had in his plans to connect Nigeria by rail as an important integrating policy. Chief Awolowo had plans for commercial farming and discussed large scale farms to replace the subsistence system prevalent in Africa.

Boko Haram now constitutes the great cost to government as billions go into the Defence budget, but Chief Awolowo wanted the North educated and would have replicated the system he had in place for the Western Region to equally provide free education in the North and South of Nigeria. Illiteracy has contributed to recruitment into the ranks of Boko Haram. Perceived as a tribalist by some, he actually had a Nigerian dream which was obstructed by the colonialists that wanted to institute neo-colonialism, and then he was limited by his own faults and those of people who did not want him in power.  Awolowo campaigned the hardest but was unable to win the country by ballot. A great loss to Nigeria and not him! Today, should we be critical and look at it in an unbiased way, Chief Awolowo fulfilled his individual destiny. The country is the one that lost its destiny by not having such a fantastic man at the helm of affairs.

Arabs (mainly Muslims) have been fulfilling their destiny and Nigeria which was speculated to become the giant of Africa has not fulfilled its destiny yet. Today, youths roam the streets seeking direction. There is great distress in the land. It is the Nigerians who today should have been enjoying progress but they are in a worse place than they were when Awolowo died.People are being encouraged to go back to the farms. Nigeria is doing what Awolowo wanted to do a long time ago today. Till today, no Nigerian university offers comprehensive aviation courses, but as at inception, the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) was already designed to have an airport it has never had. Awolowo’s Legacy reflects Nigeria’s Loss.

  • Koye-Ladele writes in from Ibadan via koyetolu@gmail.com. 

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