How Awolowo, Enaharo, Solaru should inspire Nigerian leaders ― Osinbajo

In celebration of sixty years of the establishment of television in Africa on Thursday, Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has tasked the current generation of Nigerians to also be limitless in their imaginations and reach for the highest peaks of human capacity.

Pointing to the example of limitless imagination shown by visionaries of the first television in Africa, Western Nigeria Television (WNTV) like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Chief Anthony Enahoro, Chief Titi Solaru; Osinbajo noted that the scope of imagination by the current generation had even been expanded by advancements in science and technology.

Speaking at the commemorative event organised by the Foundation for Ibadan Television Anniversary Celebration (FITAC), held at the University of Ibadan, Osinbajo, enjoined Nigerians, both leaders and the led, to embrace the virtues of hard work, commitment to the public good, vision exemplified by Awolowo, Enahoro and Solaru.

Osinbajo emphasised that the founding of WNTV in 1959 demonstrated the capacity of the Nigerian mind to conceive of and achieve anything no matter how complex, showed how visionary leadership can inspire and lift people from the lowest level to the highest point of human imagination.

With the intent of establishing a medium to inform, educate and entertain, he added that the visionaries of the first television also exemplified the use of public resources for the public good.

“Today as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of the establishment of WNTV, we also celebrate what is possible in our nation and in our states. We celebrate also what vision, hard work and a commitment to the public good can do. But as Ambassador Yemi Farounbi has said, the celebration of the phenomenal achievement in 1959 will be wasted unless we recognise that the achievements represent steady shoulders for us to stand on and that today we can do more and that the vision of Awolowo was to build a people capable of excelling beyond even his own achievement. Every generation has a historic responsibility to reach for the highest peaks that human capacity can achieve.

“Today we are at the most advanced moment in science and technology and innovation in human history. The mobile phones have more computed power than all of the computing power than the Apollo space ship that took men to the moon had in 1969. So, all things are possible and we are able. Let us be inspired by Papa Awolowo’s words that our only limit is our imagination,” Osinbajo said.

In particular, Osinbajo praised Awolowo’s commitment to the progress of the Western region and Nigeria at large, through his well-laid plan in physical infrastructure and human capacity development, which included free and compulsory education.

“As of the peak of the inauguration of WNTV, almost a million children were in school in the Western region. 41 per cent of the Western region budget was spent on education, the highest proportion at that time anywhere in the world.

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“In the free world in particular, but obvious, that those who understood the value of education, used it as a powerful proponent for the advancement of their people and Papa clearly understood that so long ago,” Osinbajo added.

The event saw Awolowo, Enahoro and Solaru honoured as visionaries, while WNTV pioneers like Oba Olu Falomo, Mrs Anike Agbaje-Williams and Prince Jide Akinbiyi also received awards of honour.

Others honoured as distinguished alumni were Aare Ayo Ogunlade, Mr Vincent Maduka, Chief Tunde Oshobi and Mr Bruce Ovbiagele.

Speaking just after first daughter of Awolowo, Reverend Mrs Tola Oyediran received the award on behalf of the Awolowo family, Chairman, African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu called on the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) to have further diversified in its broadcast language choices and content so as to reach wider and varied audiences.

“I think the equivalent to NTA is BBC; there must be a reason that BBC has diversified. Television is supposed to inform, educate and entertain. They have diversified, have dedicated channels for each sector. They also have dedicated channels for different languages within the United Kingdom and dedicated languages for other countries. So, for a long term goal, NTA should devise wider and strategic goals,” Awolowo Dosumu said.

In his own remarks after receiving the visionary award for Chief Anthony Enahoro, eldest son of the Enahoro family, Eugene bemoaned that Nigeria had lost its pioneering status in Nigeria.

“Let me start by saying I am deeply embarrassed because in 1959 when my father opened WNTV, it was the first in Africa – there was no television in South Africa. But as I am talking to you today, majority of us here now watch DSTV, GOTV. Can we get ourselves back to the leadership position which Nigeria is supposed to have in Africa?” Enahoro asked.

Receiving the award of Chief Titi Solaru, first daughter of the Solaru family, Mrs Bisi Shofunde harped on the need for Nigerians to leave good legacies, which whether now or later, will be remembered.

The event had in attendance Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed represented by Director General, Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), Yakubu Ibn Mohammed; first female Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mrs Folake Solanke; deputy governor of Oyo state, Mr Rauf Olaniyan; Secretary to the Osun state government, Prince Wole Oyebamiji; Ekiti Commissioner for Information and Value Orientation, Mr Muyiwa Olumilua; book reviewer, Professor Nkechi Christopher of the University of Ibadan; among others.

Rather than simply mourning the good old days, Chairman, FITAC, Ambassador Yemi Farounbi, in his opening remarks, urged Nigerian leaders to leverage on great achievements of the past and focus on the future.

“Great achievements of the past should provide us with leverage for creating a better future for Nigeria. The labour of our heroes past should challenge us into building a greater nation. The best part of Nigeria should not be in time past but should be in time future.

“We have become stuck due to the fact that we still fear to try out new ideas and new ways of doing things. We continue to live in the past; we do not recognise that the old cheese has been exhausted.

“We have refused to put on our own shoes in search of new cheese in pursuit of new landmark out of a budding desire to create new monuments of history for future generations to applaud. We continue to mourn the loss of Sardaunas, the loss of the Nnamdi Azikwes, the loss of the Tafawa Balewas and indeed the loss of the Avatar himself, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

“They were great leaders but like all mortals, have gone and will never come back. We can no longer continue to hang our inefficiencies on their graves. They are men of the age. It is doubtful that if they were alive today, they will not do things differently from the way they did them in the past giving their resourcefulness and high level of creativity.

“Can we cast out our fear and as Nigerians put on our running shoes? We should stop looking at the closed door. Can we look around in search of new doors?” Farounbi questioned.

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