By Daud Olatunji
ABEOKUTA-The Ikenne residence of the late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Thursday, was almost turned to a political battle ground between the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party over the forthcoming governorship election in Ondo State as governors of Kaduna and Ondo states, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai and Dr. Segun Mimiko traded words over the forthcoming governorship election.

El-rufai-Mimiko
El-rufai-Mimiko

The mild drama occurred at the 2016 Awo commemorative birthday symposium which featured a theme “Awo, then and now : politics, economics and education”, had some prominent persons include former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili among others as speakers.

El-Rufai who was the Chairman of the occasion had fired the first salvo boasting that his party, APC, would dislodge Mimiko’s party, PDP at the coming governorship election which holds 26th November 2016.

El-Rufai had vowed that the APC would take over the state after the election from the PDP.

But, Mimiko through his representative took an exception to the statement, vowing that the PDP was prepared for the APC at the election.

The governor said “you said you are going to take over Ondo state, we are going to resist all attempts of APC’s onslaught. Ondo state is not going to fall for APC onslaught”.

Though, their disagreement did not disrupt the one-day symposium, both of them eulogised the virtues of Awolowo.

While welcoming the participants who included governor of Ogun state, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, the executive director of the Obafemi Awolowo foundation, Dr . Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu explained that the organiser decided to hold the programme at Ikenne to honour both papa and mama Awolowo.

Awolowo-Dosunmu explained that the event was not the first one the foundation would hold in honour of the late sage, adding that when her father was serving as Premier of the Western Region, he allocated 28.7 percent to education, 10.7 per cent went for medical services and 5.7 percent went for Agriculture.

In his remarks, El-Rufai said it is conventional to salute the execution of the free education policy of the Awolowo.

According to him, Sixty years after that signal policy, the consequences still echo in the dynamism of the professional classes and the political consciousness in the West.

“When in 1979, some of his political opponents sought to propose a wooly notion of qualitative education in opposition to free education, the people of the West gave them short shrift, and rejected them at the ballot box. After his ministry as Premier of the West, Chief Awolowo gave the nation a taste of his acumen and capabilities as civil-war era finance minister. He managed the resources so well that the country emerged without debt from the war.

“In Kaduna State, we embrace the Awo formula for education. A year ago, we campaigned against the dismal state of most of our schools, with many lacking furniture, doors, windows, roofs and water. After the election, the things we railed against became our problems to solve.

” We have 4,254 public primary schools in Kaduna, and many are in very poor shape. Between September 2015 and January 2016, we have spent more than N6billion on school rehabilitation, and the provision of water and toilets to our schools. In our 2016 budget, the education sector has by far the highest allocation accounting for more than a third of the budget.

“We have therefore started the journey, but we have a long way and lots of hard work ahead of us to complete our programme of school repairs, provision of furniture and tools, students’ feeding and teacher training in an era of declining revenues. What no one can doubt is our commitment to expand access to education, and to deliver nine years of free, compulsory basic education with well-trained and incentivized teachers.

“The outcome of the 2015 elections is both our present and our future, as it is our collective burden and opportunity. As the inheritors of the progressive legacies of Awo, we, the leaders and members of the APC, must strive as he did, to meet the expectations of our people for a peaceful, secure and corrupt-free nation that delivers social services to all, and rewards ingenuity and hard work.

In his remarks, Amosun said if the legacies of Awolowo who died 30 years ago were still the reference point, the progressive governments have a lot to do.

According to the governor, he was still struggling to do what the late sage did while alive and in government.

While giving his goodwill message, Mimiko said he had rebuilt all the schools built by Awolowo when he was Premier of western region.

The Ondo governor said, his government has ensured access to quality education by making education affordable.

Some prominent persons made presentations on the theme and submitted that the government must adopt the Awolowo philosophy the solve the challenges facing the country.

Those who spoke at the symposium were; Prof. Segun Gbadegesin; Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, Senator Femi Okurounmu, Prof Alake Fawole, Prof. Ayo Olukotun and Prof. Ladipo Adamolekun .

The participants however, urged the pastor of latter rain, Pastor Tunde Bakare to intervene in the challenges facing the country following his contribution to the emergence of the current government.

Bakare who acknowledged his role promised to take the resolution at the symposium to the President.

He however,advised the people to ensure they keep their Permanent Voter Cards ahead of the subsequent elections, adding that hence forth, political parties should be examined before they are voted for.

Those who were at the symposium include;
former Military governor of the state, Gen. Oladipo Diya, Senators Adegbenka Kaka and Olorunimbe Mamora, former Permanent Secretary, Ahmed Joda among others.

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