The people of Yoruba occupy an important position in the Nigerian civilization and great thanks to all early leaders for bequeathing an imperishable legacy in the fields of economics, politics, culture and education to the generations (including coming) of this nation.
This writer was in a place called Tallahassee, Florida recently and was pleasantly startled to meet a white American who talked lovingly about the Yoruba culture in Brazil and Cuba. Peters Snyder spoke about the Yoruba people and how their former enslaved people impacted on the culture of Brazil. This writer was impressed by the deep knowledge of Yoruba history till the time of Awolowo expressed by Snyder .
The deep knowledge is best appreciated by people who passed through the best school of history in Africa where a deep study of historiography had sensitized one’s appreciation of nations with distinctly known history and culture in Nigeria. The Yoruba are very proud of their history which is readily accessible and not made up.
Professor James Giblin of the History Department of Iowa University in United States of America has this to say about the Yoruba in his article on the people who are found in Nigeria, Benin Republic, Togo, Sierra Leone, Cuba, Brazil, Trinidad/Tobago and many other places around the globe where slavery transported them: “The combination of cultural triumphs and human tragedy (slave trade) makes the Yoruba experience, one of the most fascinating subjects of historical study in Africa”.
A highly knowledgeable and fluent Igbo in the name of Dilibe Onyeama must have summed everything up to describe the Yoruba as “Homo Sequedum” meaning ‘the one to be followed’. Dilibe wrote several articles explaining that the above should specifically refer to Awolowo.
The Yoruba are heirs both to an ancient and cultured civilization which is known for its artistic triumphs, extra ordinary oral literature, complex pattern of gods and urban lifestyle. In the recent past and till date, the civility of an average Yoruba is well advanced that he does not stop at nothing to scrutinize his siblings before granting him his full support in a national venture. This is why the main opponents of Obasanjo’s third term attempt were 70% Yoruba who did not act because of hatred but principle of fairness embedded in their age long high civility.
Millions of Yoruba men, women and children were sent to Americas as slaves. Some of them returned to settle in places like Sierra Leone, Abeokuta and Badagry. Many could not return or were simply long gone from their native home. These people were in great numbers and their cultural impact were so great that their religion (traditional) and culture have remained till today in Brazil, Cuba ,Trinidad $ Tobago and the cities of Eastern United States.
The area mostly inhabited by the Yoruba in the world, South western part of Nigeria was blessed with many ‘firsts’ in the annals of Nigeria. This why many Nigerians of political importance and others who need some relevance always cling to the name of the great Yoruba leader - Obafemi Awolowo.
Among his peers all over Nigeria, Awo as popularly called during his life time was in the days of old and till today, rated shoulder higher. He, as the Premier of Western Region triumphed in government as a performer who developed the infrastructures of his region. It was the era of Ahmadu Bello, Nnamidi Azikwe and Obafemi Awolowo.
The Western Region under his watch developed or introduced the First Television Station in Africa, built the best network of roads which was emulated by Ahmadu Bello, built the first modern Stadium which was relied upon by the whole country for more than three decades, established the first private Newspaper as far back as 1949, established the first modern Housing Estate, set up the Pilgrims’ Welfare Board and was visionary to make Primary Education free for all Westerners which till date placed them in vantage position in Nigeria.
It is no big surprise that some people as recently as 1987 suggested that their areas in Nigeria be declared educationally disadvantaged and be given preferential treatment to meet up with the South west. Some even ridiculously suggested that the pace of learning in the south west be slowed down for the rest of the country to meet up! The institutions of JAMB, JMCE, NUC and many others are largely suspected as part of the means to slow down the pace of Awolowo’s vision.
Awo’s great disciples namely Bola Ige, Olabisi Onabanjo, Ambrosse Alli, Adekunle Ajasin and Lateef Jakande also between 1979 and 1983 introduced Free Education at all levels which attracted a lot of criticisms from those who were either being constructive or destructive. The main bone of contention of the former, was no money for the project while the latter were afraid of the preponderance of Yoruba sons and daughters who would be ready for University Education. Some of the products of 1979 to 1983 era have since become important vehicles of developments in Nigeria and Yoruba in particular.
The achievements of Awolowo were too glaring to ignore by all Nigerians and people from outside the Western Nigeria silently and openly lambasted their leaders who were in power from 1959 for not being able to emulate the visions of Awo. There are up till today cries of non performance against leaders by people from other parts who now see the fruits of the unequalled organizational wizardry and leadership quality of Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo.
Even the man of history, Ikemba O. Ojukwu described Awolowo as the “best President, Nigeria never had” . The New York Times simply said that he was born in a place where he was far ahead of his time and the London Times too opined that Awo would have made a good British Prime Minister. This is why most people would easily point to the legacies of Awolowo today as imperishable, most Nigerians are wont to associate with the name of Awolowo as it connotes achievements and foresight.
Today, many Nigerians including people from Awolowo’s family are missing the points as related to the yet to be equaled score sheets of Awo in the history of performance not only in Western Nigeria or South west but in Nigeria. Who amongst the present pretenders in the corridors of power in the South west is qualified to step into Awo’s shoes? This is not to take anything away from any of them including the ‘ bus conductor’ governor of Ekiti.
The governor of Lagos State in 1979 did merit the accolades of the time as an action governor. No wonder, he was generally called ‘Baba Kekere’ but admitted that the shoes were too big for him. That of Ogun too and during the same period showed great vision by building up the infrastructures of his State including the western world type Mall in Ijebu Ode.
He exhibited some of the well known principled stances on the side of performance like the great Awo but still could not step into his shoes. Bola Ige, like his great leader built a modern market in Ibadan, developed the Youths and made his government to work but still was not Awo. The great colleague of Awo, Adekunle Ajasin was humble enough to claim his own name and history will be kind to him not only for being there with Awo during the great performances but also as the man who led the democratic battle against tyranny after Awo.
The recent abuse of the name Awo by people who suppose to know better, those who are ignorant or and some others who may not know is saddening to all lovers of historical exactness. Not just the common history which most people think they know but to all students and lovers of historiography.
Many people were blown away when the Governor of Ekiti State also joined the bandwagon of people claiming to be following in the footsteps of Awo. That would have been ignored but Ayo Fayose went ahead that he was actually doing what Awo did in the Western Region in the area of performance!
Some who should know better too have described the governor of Ogun State, Gbenga Daniel as the new leader who has stepped into the shoes of Awo! How, when and why?
With due respects to Gbenga Daniel and Ayo Fayose or even Bola Tinubu, none of them is yet qualified to step into the great shoes of Awo until they can really stand the test of time. It took Awo himself many years to convince his people to really appraise his great efforts. He started from almost nothing and his great vision led the Yoruba to where they are today. Most of his critics admit in corners and secret places that he was second to none in performance throughout his time in organization and workability.
The present array of pretenders have been rebuilding roads or launching projects almost finished by their predecessors or renaming projects to claim credits. The case of the particular one who bamboozled his people with elephant projects while stealing 70% of the budgeted money is at variance with steeping into the shoes of Awo. Most of the present day governors have 20 times what their predecessors had, in terms of revenues, to run the government but still have less to show. Ask Ekiti governor or that of Ogun State what money is available for government projects since 2003 and compare with hitherto, one will see that most of them are failures.
In any logical appraiser of government running between one who has about 30 billion naira to run business for four years and another with 300 billion naira to run affairs in a year, the conclusion, an easy one, will be that the present camouflages in the south west are colossal failures. This is why the stealing and pilfering of public money know no bounds. These people now bought houses all over the world and in all cities of Nigeria. if they are so comfortable, what were their assets before 2003 and what have they acquired now?
The governors should let us know if they declared their assets as enshrined in the constitution and as exampled by the Governor of Katsina, who is the only one to declare his assets till date. Even the ‘Kabiyesi’ of Nigeria, His Excellency, the Commander in tchief, failed to declare his assets. Nigerians were only told that his farms now make more than 30 million naira monthly. How can you catch late comers when you are also late?
The spirit of fighting corruption can only be respected when the leaders ‘come to equity with clean hands’. It is difficult for Nigerians to double check what their leaders are saying and acting when they consistently fail to follow the rules. everyone should be equal before the law. This is why Ayo Fayose in Ekiti or Gbenga Daniel in Ogun have always said they are Obasanjo’s political sons. Perhaps, this is why Obasanjo finds it difficult to keep to his oath of office as it relates to the security reports by his SSS and Police on Fayose in particular, to direct the Attorney General to act.
The biggest culprit in the Nigerian situation of today is Obasanjo. Great thanks to him for setting up the anti corruption agencies which no matter its faults is a veritable vehicle of ultimate change. Obasanjo, today is the most lucky head of State under whose watch, Nigeria has made tremendous revenues from oil. The oil price per barrel as budgeted was below 35 dollars but most of the sales yielded above 70 dollars per barrel. Nigerians are hungry and they were told that things would get better.
The supply of electricity remains comatose and his Minister told Nigerians to wait till year 2056. His gains from the oil sales should have been used as many action men would, to give Nigeria a regular supply of electricity or assurance of it (not in the year 2056 though). Most bankers would write Obasanjo off if he presents himself for an appraisal with the huge revenues realized from oil. The only government, very close to this regime which made huge profits from oil but clearly buried it, is Babangida’s. He is worse than OBJ because he not only buried the huge profits but also piled up debts
The Yoruba know and appreciate their true leaders. Most of these name droppers and their chorus singers should know this. It is better for them to wait for posterity to award them marks and for time to test them. Their great predecessors of the 1979 - 1983 did declare their assets to the Public and did not buy mansions during their stay in government or after.
The governor of Ogun State recently and according to news reports which have not been disclaimed, purchased by cash, mansions in Europe while that of Ekiti too bought by cash mansions in America and Europe. The Ogun State governor told the world like his Ekiti counterpart that he was rich before getting to office.
Why did he not purchase his mansions of same price and by cash before 2003? Same thing for the Ekiti? Can those who have been too carried away see the conflicts or discrepancies in credibility? These people not only failed to declare their assets but have made some suspicious purchases only when they got into position of governors. How can they be near Awo’s shoes not to talk of stepping into it?
The late Adekunle Ajasin took loan to build his house after his days as Ondo Governor. How could he buy a 400,000 pounds house in London like Gbenga Daniel or the late ‘Aiyekooto’ of Ogun State who was constrained to find money for his medical treatment abroad ? These people will be turning today in their graves for some people to describe Gbenga Daniel as stepping into Awo’s shoes. The purchases by Daniel or Fayose are too suspicious to give them credibility, one thing that the great Awo enjoyed throughout his lifetime.
Obasanjo has debunked any smallest link to credibility by all the exposures being served Nigerians about him. He purchased shares in a mega Company set up by him and bought up 200 million shares while his son, Gbenga Obasanjo who should keep his mouth shut accused others of corruption. Now, after Atiku opened his ‘can of worms’, OBJ and Nduidi Okereke of Stock Exchange or what is her name, quickly told the world that he did purchase shares in the Transcorp which bought NITEL and other public enterprises.
It took special grace from the Federal Government of Obasanjo before Transcorp could get NITEL after failing to meet up the deadline! Still, the so -called directors of his business now woke up to declare that the business of Obasanjo Holdings are solely handled by them. Their names are Lucky Egede and Daniel Atsu. The whole friends and people of Otta know that Obasanjo will never sleep with both eyes closed in the matter of his business. Additionally and more importantly, the business is under the chairmanship of both OBJ and Gbenga.
All these afterthoughts are not convincing people and will only show that OBJ too has suddenly gone fidgeting!
Atiku has only reconfirmed the fears of people over his ambition as most are never comfortable with putting main leadership in his hands.
Nuhu Ribadu should keep his distance from the Transcorp thing which is not a good PR for his EFCC. The hurried arrest and release of Ndidi Okereke should not be missed by Nigerians. The revelation about OBJ’s shares in the Transcorp came at the late hours when they knew that Atiku would sing. Where were Ndidi and OBJ all these days when the newspapers in Nigeria were running reports about how the President has 200 million shares in a mega company bidding for Nigerian Public Enterprises?
The excuse of OBJ through Ndidi Okereke was that the shares were purchased by his Obasanjo Holdings Limited which is under the chairmanship of Gbenga Obasanjo and that now that there were controversies, instructions have been given to divest! Pooh! Pooh!!
OBJ now wanted Nigerians to believe his afterthought while it is crystal clear that he is not clean and his case against Atiku is just that of the ’pot calling kettle black’. He told Nigerians that he helped Atiku with 50 million naira to pay back Dariye for the 100 million stolen from Plateau Government. To those who are familiar with OBJ, he would never give such money out unless he is committed or compromised somehow.
He simply paid back what the illicit money from Dariye. OBJ can not fool anybody and his hands are soiled.
Atiku too can no longer be trusted with leadership and some of the crowd in the National Assembly need to give way in 2007 for untainted representatives. This should not stop them from investigating all contacts signed by OBJ particularly the 100 million pounds worth signed with Israel.
The little that both of them have exposed is just a tip of the iceberg. Nigerians should hold their breath for more mother of all exposures while writers should not conclude their books yet but can go ahead with the title reading ‘The last days of OBJ in power’.
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