The Legacies Of Obafemi Awolowo 1909-1987

Project and Seminar Material for International Relations

The Legacies Of Obafemi Awolowo 1909-1987


The fundamental basic rule of life is on the centre of Awolowo’s theory of mental magnitude as an avenue to free Nigeria and Africa in general from the social ills. The idea of a responsible and responsive government is to wage war against the social ills which culminate on the following; illiteracy, corruption unemployment robbery, violence and terrorism. The African continent remains underdeveloped due to the high magnitude of the social ills. More so, it is due to absolute negligence of the leaders towards the fundamental rule of life. For Obafemi Awolowo the realistic nature of good governance is based on the basic rule of life that good begets good while evil begets evil. He understood love as the basic rule of life for leaders who have passion in achieving good and effective governance. Therefore the study advocates the moral and political philosophy of Obafemi Awolowo and his legacies as a panacea for good governance in Nigeria (1909-1987).

Table Of Content

Preliminary Page(s)

  • Title
  • Declaration
  • Approval
  • Dedication
  • Acknowledgement
  • Abstract
  • Table of Content

Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

  • 1.1 Background To The Study
  • 1.2 Statement Of Problem
  • 1.3 Aims And Objectives Of Study
  • 1.4 Significance Of Study
  • 1.5 Scope Of Study
  • 1.6 Organisation Of Study
  • 1.7 Limitations Of Study
  • 1.8 Definition Of Term

Chapter Two

2.0 The Life Of Obafemi Awolowo, His Contribution To The Development Of Nigeria

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Early Life
  • 2.3 Politics
  • 2.4 Legacy

Chapter Three

3.0 The Legacies Of Obafemi Awolowo And The Challenges Of The Political Leadership

  • 3.1 Introduction
  • 3.2 Policies
  • 3.3 Crisis In Western Nigeria
  • 3.4 1966 Military Coup
  • 3.5 Legacy

Chapter Four

4.0 Impact Of The Legacies On Governance

  • 4.1 The Philosophical Thought Of Obafemi Awolowo
  • 4.2 Governance In Nigeria And It Challenges: Influence Of Awolowo’s Legacies

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary And Conclusion

  • 5.1 Summary
  • 5.2 Conclusion
  • References


Chapter One

1.0 Introduction

1.1 Background Of Study

The present political regime has learnt a lot from its predecessors, the legacies of the heroes of the past speak for them in today political system of Nigeria.

Among all the greatest leaders in Nigeria with their legacies respectively, the legacies of Chief Obafemi awolowo tend to be the most discussed and most noticed In Nigeria.

Chief Obafemi Awolowo had his primary school education at very early stage at St. Saviour’s School, Ikenne, he also attended Imo Wesleyan School, Abeokuta. His education was interrupted at a very early stage for several years by the sudden death of his father in April 1920, an ugly incidence that left him without financial assistance; this compelled him to fetch firewood for sale, and do similar jobs, to support his schooling. He had his higher education at Wesley College, Ibada in 1927, and finally attended the University of London as an External Student. He obtained the degree of Bachelor of Commerce (Hons.) and then Bachelor of Laws by the same University in London. He was then called to the Bar by the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple on November 19, 1946.

On 26th December, 1937 Chief Obafemi Awolowo got married to Miss Hannah Idowu Dideolu Adelana. They remained each other’s best friend to the end; they both fought for the cause of justice and for the release of their fellow man’s mind from ignorance, illiteracy and the freedom on his body from disease. Obafemi Awolowo and wife had 5 children: although Olusegun, Omotola, Oluwole, Ayodele and Tokunbo Awolowo, although Olusegun pass on in 1963(1939-1963).

The true legacies of the Chief Obafemi Awolowo started when he came back home from Britain, Awolowo formed the cultural group known as “Egbe Omo Oduduwa” in 1949 and it is regard as a political party, the Action Group, (AG), in 1951 also known as Egbe Afenifere in Western part of Nigeria as part of the Social Programme for the complete emancipation of Yoruba race. Action group party won the first elections ever conducted in Western Nigeria.

As a result of the victory of the election, the AG formed the first elected government in the Western Region and Obafemi Awolowo, now a Chief, became the Leader of Government Business and Minister for Local Government in 1952. In 1954, Awo (as he had come to be fondly known within his party) became the first Premier of the Western Region. His party won the elections again in May 1956 and Awo retained his position as Premier. He voluntarily gave up that position when, on December 12, 1959, he was elected into the House of Representatives where he became the Leader of Opposition in Nigeria’s central legislature. The study will take a deep view into the legacies left by Chief Obafemi Awolowo during and after his reign in Nigeria.

1.2 Statement Of Problem

The Nigeria political system tends to forget the footpath of their past leaders, the zeal to lead and the desire to fight and defend her citizens is no longer there. Back in the 60’s, Chief Obafemi Awolowo stood up stoutly against mediocrity and drift in government, and began to define alternative channels along which Nigeria’s government should go. His own concept of a Nigerian nation was probably too advanced for his opponents, who began to see the Awolowo-led opposition as a major threat. Following a trial for treasonable felony, he was jailed for 10 years in September 1963. Every day Nigeria and her citizen pray for another Chief Obafemi Awolowo; but their dreams tend to diminish by the continuous drop in the political standard of Nigeria.

1.3 Aims And Objectives Of Study

The aim of the study is to examine the impact of the legacies of Obafemi Awolowo on the promotion of peace, education, health and rise in the political standard of Nigeria. The specific aims of the study are stated below as follows:

  1. To examine the effect of thought on the perfection of the Nigeria political system
  2. To examine the role of Obafemi Awolowo in the provision of free education
  3. To examine the role of Obafemi Awolowo in the promotion of modest life style and women empowerment
  4. To discuss Obafemi Awolowo Reform of the electoral system as part of his legacies
  5. To proffer recommendation for the present government and the future political leaders

1.4 Significance Of Study

The study will be of immense benefit to the federal government of Nigeria, the present political leaders and the future political leaders as it will serve as a role model or kind of a guide to a better political administration, the study will be of immense benefit to citizens of Nigeria, the western part of Nigeria; the study will also influence the studying and writing habit of literature students that want to follow in the footstep of Obafemi Awolowo during his time as a writer.

1.5 Scope Of Study

The study the legacies of Obafemi Awolowo will cover his eventful life from the 1909 to 1987

1.6 Organisation Of Study

The study will consist of five chapters the chapter of the study will include the background of the study, the statement of problem, the objectives of the study, the significance of study, the scope of the study, the limitation of the study, and definition of terms.

The chapter two of the study will consist of the review on the eventful life of Obafemi Awolowo, his contribution to the development of Nigeria.

The chapter three of the research work will consist of the of the legacies of Obafemi Awolowo and the challenges of the political leadership from the past to the present day.

The chapter four of the study will consist of the impact of the legacies on the governance, the impact on the military system of organisation. The chapter five of the study will consist of the summary, conclusion and the recommendation.

1.7 Limitations Of Study

Financial Constraint

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature.

Time Constraint

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Chapter Five

5.0 Summary and Conclusion

5.1 Summary

Chief Awolowo was primarily concerned with how to bring progress to Nigeria, to free it from European domination and exploitation, to restore its dignity, and to question all negative assumptions and racist prejudices. He did not make distinctions between scholarship and politics, academy and ideology. What we may call scholarly paper, he conceived as a document of economic and political liberation. His motive was to attain development. He created a body of ideas on progress, conscious of the need to respond to negative comments about his people and country. The major ideas they espoused addressed issues of Western domination, imperialism, exploitation, African personality, identity, and alternatives for Africa. Chief Awolowo belonged to the nationalist phase of African history and the forest of ideas that they all generated, although he did not agree with some of them. He made his own distinctive mark in various ways: intellectual ideas, community organizing, political mobilisation, and leadership. First and foremost, he has to be understood as an intellectual, one who was able to reflect on a large body of data and then able to create policy actions from the conclusions. He was intellectually restless, in the sense that the ideas and policies were many and often came in a flood.

At a time when Nigeria was underdeveloped and with limited resources, the task of effecting change was tremendous. Chief Awolowo was able to do this through the use of one skill in particular: visionary leadership. That is precisely what is missing today in the management of our institutions. We once blamed the woes on the British. The British left but the woes remained. Then the politicians were replaced by the military. The woes continued. Then we blamed the military and called for democracy. Greater woes. Now is the time to call for accountability and visionary leadership of the type demonstrated by the example of Chief Awolowo. Thus, we can talk of an Awolowo Doctrine, which, over time, has now become the very doctrine of the majority of Nigerians. Let there be one Nigeria, an indivisible entity. He so much believed in Nigeria that he dedicated his autobiography not to his wife of inestimable value, but to “A New and Free Nigeria Where Individual Freedom and More Abundant Life Are Guaranteed to All Her Citizens.” He did not say that Nigeria should collapse into pieces, even when he regarded the space as an artificial creation of the British. He believed that political leaders ought to be committed to the maintenance of the country’s unity.

A second component was that there must be a constitution, republican in nature. States, with their local governments, should be semi-autonomous and federating units. He devoted considerable amount of reflections on the idea of federalism and how to put it into practice. His notion of federalism was located in democracy. To those who alleged that he wanted to take over government by force, they should be reminded of his belief that “Government by tyranny or dictatorship is maintainable only by the use of force and by various acts of repression and oppression against those who disagree with or are critical of the tyrant or dictator.” Ultimately, this reflected his belief that the business of government is about people. He insisted that resources should be devoted to the elimination of poverty. He was opposed to expensive expenditure on the military and defence on the grounds that spending resources meant for development on arms was unproductive. He was in support of building an army to protect the country and its territorial integrity, but not “as an instrument for maintaining a totalitarian regime”. He warned, “Any government that does not enjoy the goodwill of the people should resign: it must not utilize the people’s money for the purpose both of their enslavement and starvation.”

The focus on people led to the third doctrine: progress and development. All citizens must be educated, and he was the principal figure in the introduction of free universal primary education in the Western Region in 1955. The educated citizens must be active in developing the country’s resources. For Nigeria to progress he argued that the state must use the resources of the nation to cater to the people by creating jobs, making education available, and creating the conditions to have access to the basic necessities of life: housing, food, clothing, and health. He linked an economic set of objectives to the larger principles of state objective: “the more prosperous a State is, and the more equitably and justly distributed its wealth is, the less liable it is to the danger of internal disorder and the more able it is to discourage external aggression.” The objectives his work itemizes were grounded in welfare politics. His own personal narratives of overcoming poverty became translated into the project of allowing all to do the same. He genuinely believed that no one should be poor and was most happy when formulating and implementing policies to eradicate poverty. He believed that poverty is manmade, “the direct outcome of an inhuman and ungodly social order, in which a strong, selfish, ruthless few exploit and deprive the masses of the people, politically and economically.” The state, he argued, is the only one with the resources and capability to eliminate poverty and ensure equality of opportunity to children, irrespective of the income of their parents.

However, the most important lesson to take away from Chief Awolowo’s work is his prescription for the implementation of welfare politics. His legacy to Nigeria, and indeed the world, is the proposal of critical conceptions that must be infused into political leadership. He argued that leadership must be grounded in ethics—a morality of spending resources more carefully, without corruption, and with compassion for people. Leadership must respect the rules of law and human rights and cannot be based on violence and the oppression of alternate political ideology. As Chief Awolowo concluded, politics is about vision, the politics of formulating ideas and objectives, the politics of presenting those objectives, and the politics of implementing them. People cannot be expected to accept a set of objectives different from their own aspirations. Neither will they accept leaders who say one thing and do another or who create budgets on grandiose projects only to divert public money to their private pockets. Leadership is about service—no more no less. Wesley College got it right in its motto: “Bi Eniti Nse Iranse” (as he that serveth), drawn from Luke 22:27. While the secondary schools of the time, whose mottos were in Latin, ridiculed this Yoruba one, the young Awolowo saw servant-leadership in practice; the students lived the motto, did everything for themselves, and ran the school using teamwork. A nation is teamwork. Chief Awolowo wanted to serve, and he also sought to lead.

Today, public service has become about accumulation and personal aggrandizement in which the leader becomes the master. The state is imperialized, converting citizens into subjects, resources into private ownership. Politics is about how to control people and resources, and the game of politics is how to game opponents to create greater access to the spoils of office. The higher the level of power, the more the resources that flow to private pockets so that the wealthy is the one with the closest access to the corridors of power. In that environment, power brings wealth, fame and adulation, not public service. If Chief Awolowo were still alive he would argue that we need a set of leaders who will be our servants not our bosses, who will not ask us to look at their grandiose houses while we live in shanties, who will endure the same kind of suffering as the majority of the population, whose children will attend the same public schools as those of their “subjects,” who will use the local hospitals when they are sick. He would make the same immortal statement he made over sixty years ago: “It is the amount of patriotism, unstinted effort and wisdom which we apply to the exploitation of our vast resources, and of the just and equitable distribution of the results of such exploitation, that will determine the measure of our greatness and happiness as a people.” His slogan, “freedom to all, life more abundant,” will forever remain true.

5.2 Conclusion

Obafemi Awolowo’s death in 1987 occurred at the beginning of Nigeria’s second phase of military rule, which lasted until 1999. During this period, a range of developments contributed to fears in Remo that the central government was determined to eradicate Obafemi Awolowo’s legacy and to exclude Yoruba interests – as long as they were identified with Awolowo – from the centre. In response to this perception as well as to declining public infrastructure, rising crime rates and narrowing economic opportunities, local vigilantes took over power from the centrally controlled police.

The centenary of Awolowo’s birth in 2009 raises important questions about where Nigeria – and the Yoruba political tradition so largely incarnated in him – stands today. As Nigeria remains a strongly centralised state under successive civilian governments since 1999, Awolowo’s political vision of a decentralised Nigerian confederation of ethnic nations remains unfulfilled. Similarly, his demands for greater social equality contrast sharply with the gulf between rich and poor in Nigeria, which continues to expand despite the central control of significant national revenue derived from oil exports. Awolowo’s ideas of dialectic principle remain important and paramount for good leadership. It allows the power of reason as a proper mechanism to control of man’s actions in line with universal moral values in the society.

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