Osun State Governor, Mr. Rauf Aregbesola; elder statesman, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai, and Professor of African Literature and Culture, Carleton University Ottawa, Canada, Pius Adesanmi, said on Tuesday that the ideals of the first Premier of the defunct Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, were enduring nuggets capable of transforming the country if well utilised.
The trio spoke at a symposium in Lagos titled ‘The Nigerian Constitution: The Awo Road Not Taken’, organised by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation.
Aregbesola said Awolowo’s enemies were not human enemies. He said, ‘‘The enemies are ignorance and want. Ignorance is a great disaster anywhere it reigns. That is what Nigeria is managing in the North (Boko Haram).The greatest value of Awolowo was that he used education to create a middle class that has absorbed the dislocation in the social structure. The situation in the South-West could have been worse.”
Yakassai, who was the chairman on the occasion, stated that Awolowo’s Action Group made Nigeria a federation.
‘‘The National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons wanted a unitary system for Nigeria while the Northern Peoples’ Congress wanted confederation. Now is the time to use Awo’s ideas to develop Nigeria, ’’ he said.
In his keynote address, Adesanmi said the current situation in the county called for a sober reflection. Saying Awo was an originator, creator of paths and a visionary, he added that he was the loudest of the nationalists. Adesanmi added, ‘‘Awo stands out in the national discourse for the right way to greatness because he did more than his peers.
He stood by Nigerians at critical times, by showing the way and placing them in the right way to go. He was committed to Nigeria’s constitutional development, going the extra miles to show the right path to tread. In all of Awolowo’s books, throughout the years, he pointed at federalism as the path and unitarianism as bush.’’