FOR AWOLOWO: From left; Oloye Lekan Alabi, Prof Adesoji Adejumo; representing the Chairman of the occasion, Chief Ayo Opadokun; guest lecturer, Ambassador Yemi Farounbi and Mr Bukola Awolowo, representing Mrs Tola Oyediran at the event in Ikenne, Ogun State, yesterday. Photos by Dare Fasube.
By Ola Ajayi & Daud Olatunji
Ikenne — Thirty years after the death of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, loyalists and supporters of the former Premier of the defunct Western region converged in Oyo and Ogun states respectively and stressed the need to restructure the country.
The Private Secretary to late Awolowo, Odia Ofeimun, who delivered a lecture entitled: Awo Conversations: An overview of his vision, his politics and his philosophy’, organised by the Awolowo Foundation, held at the Ikenne country home of the late sage said Nigeria would not split despite the incessant calls and agitations for the division of Nigeria by a section of the country.
Ofeimun, who noted that Nigerians share a strong bond and affinity both historical and cultural values said “the reason Nigeria can’t break is not because the forces to tear it apart are not there or strong enough but its continued existence as one entity rests on the “deep, long and unbreakable chord that binds the Nigerian tribes together.”
He said: “If Nigerians could honestly find out about their history, they would discover the bond of unity and similarity among them and none would sincerely wish for a break up.”
The poet, however, revealed that contrary to the misconception that Chief Awolowo smashed the terms of Aburi Accord when General Yakubu Gowon and Col. Odumegwu Ojukwu returned to Nigeria from Ghana, it was the people of Midwest, South-South and the North who mounted pressure on Gowon to jettison the Accord bordering on “resource control and regional autonomy.”
He described the late Premier of Western Region as a true advocate of true federalism noting the exclusive legislative list was deliberately beefed up in favour of the Federal Government, which according to him, led to the weakness of the federating states.
He said: “One of the fears of the people working against the restructuring of Nigeria is that they worry about where their allocations will come from to run their states. But I tell you if the Niger Delta region was allowed to control their resources 100 per cent, the federal government will still have fund to run its affairs.”
Also speaking, Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, recalled that all the programmes of Awolowo were philosophically-backed.
The Ibadan programme was organised by Awolowo Wheel of Oasis Organisation.
Speaking at a lecture entitled, ‘Unity among Yoruba: Panacea for Regional Development and Political Advancement’, Secretary, defunct National Democratic Coalition, NADECO, Mr Ayo Opadokun stressed the need for the country to return to parliamentary system of government.
Opadokun argued that, “Regional autonomy and parliamentary are part of the essential foundations for the political advancement of Yoruba nation. A return to the 1963 Nigerian Constitution is a must, complete with amendments. The Yoruba nation does not favour the prohibitively costly executive presidential system.”
“The Nigerian economy, nay, the Yoruba nation, cannot afford the current practice whereby over 75 per cent of our total earnings is in fact spent to run the bureaucracy and the unproductive executive presidential system practised in America”, he said
To him, the absence of Chief Awolowo has led to the emergence of political parties without ideological leanings and preferences adding that it is difficult to differentiate between the existing political parties in philosophy and action.
The event attracted prominent South West leaders including Ambassador Yemi Farounmbi, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, Engr. Segun Oni, former Governor of Ekiti State who was represented by Prof. Soji Adejumo, governorship aspirant in 2015 election and a chieftain of All Progressive Congress, Chief Lekan Alabi, Agba Akin Olubadan, Chief Tate Ayorinde, Baale of Ekotedo, Mr Bukola Awolowo, grandson of the late sage who represented Reverend Tola Oyediran, first daughter of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Mr Mashood Erubami, an activist and many others.
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