The blessings of courage

Full text of Chief Obafemi Awolowo: speech to Oyo State House of Assembly in Ibadan on Wednesday, 16th January, 1980. This is the speech in which Chief Awolowo listed his main achievements as Premier of Western Region of Nigeria from January, 1952, to December, 1959.


BUT if all of you will co-operate, in a spirit of willingness and loyalty, with the Government, the task of tackling and solving any problems that may arise will, God being our helper, be considerably lightened.’

This appeal which was made twenty-five years ago inures today for each of our five States, and for any State in the Federation which may wish to embark on the Scheme of free education at all levels.

As the Scheme unfolds and progresses, difficulties of various kinds will be encountered. There will be administrative, executive, and financial difficulties, among others. But the knottiest of them all is the financial difficulty. Even this, like the other two can and ought to be tackled vigorously and solved.

The country has enough manpower and financial resources to cope with its social and economic problems including in particular the introduction of free education at all levels. But of course it all depends on what we regard as national priorities, and on how our resources are husbanded and deployed for the greatest good of all our people without any discrimination whatsoever.

In this connection, it is imperative that all the relevant arguments should be mustered and directed, with unrelenting and unabating persistence, at the ‘densely-compacted intellect’ of the Federal Government to the end that it may awaken to the very urgent need for promoting the immediate introduction of free education at all levels, free health care, integrated rural development, and full employment of our human resources throughout the country.

There is one and only one primary and overriding objective which all the twenty Gover.nments in our Federation, and all the leaders in the country must recognise: it is the full development and full employment of every Nigerian citizen. This objective, to the exclusion of any other, deserves to be given FIRST PRIORITY in all our national endeavours. Any policy or programme which relegates this objective to the second place is sure to come to grief, and to fail woefully in its bid to advance our economic development, and to promote social justice and political stability.

No one in his senses has ever denied and can ever deny that man is the Alpha and Omega of all activities. And in all these economy and at any stage of human advancement. He is the producer of all raw materials and secondary goods; he is the distributor, exchanger and final consumer of everything that is ever produced by man. In the Church, in the Mosque, in politics, in the State, in the family, and in society generally, man is the Alpha and Omega of all activities. An in all these activities, he alone has the capacity to make or mar: nothing else on earth has. Man is ordained to have dominion and be monarch over the earth. The vagaries of nature and the acts of God which now and again affect him adversely, do so because of his ignorance of their causes, and of his lack of sufficient knowledge to eliminate such causes when he ascertains them or to cope successfully with their effects.

The point in controversy as far as some people are concerned is whether man’s development should have or should not have priority over the development of natural resources into raw materials and then into secondary goods for man’s final consumption.

In this regard, there is a feudalist-capitalist veil which has, for centuries, and until recently, obscured the prime importance of the developed man in the economic development process, or in any kind of development process, for that matter. The Japanese are the first to peep seriously behind the veil; and the USSR is the first to tear the veil asunder; the prime dynamic of all development or advancement – be it economic, social or political – is the developed man. Accordingly, they have both given the prime of place to the development – that is the education and health – of everyone of their respective citizens.

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