From: Laide Raheem, Abeokuta
Private Secretary to late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Odia Ofeimun, has expressed strong conviction that despite the incessant calls and agitations for the division of Nigeria by sections of the country, Nigeria would not break up.
Ofeimun declared this, on Thursday, when he spoke at ‘Awo Conversations: An overview of his vision, his politics and his philosophy’, organised by the Awolowo Foundation, for youths across the country, held at the Ikenne country home of the late sage.
According to him, “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 maintained that the people of Nigeria share a strong bond and affinity both historical and cultural and noted “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 minority people of midwest, south south and the north who put pressured 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, had led to the weakness of the federating states.
“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%, the federal government will still have fund to run its affairs.
“I just want to refer you to Chief Awolowo’s book titled ‘ Strategies and Tactics of the Republic people of Nigeria,’ where the late sage analysed how true federal system could work”. Ofeimun submitted.
In her remark, the Executive Director of the Foundation, Dr. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, said the since no Nigerian was worthy enough to clinch Awo Leadership Award in 2016, the Foundation decided to put the event together in order to inculcate Awolowo’s values, philosophy and vision in the youth.
Also speaking, Afenifere chieftain, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, recalled that all the programmes of Awolowo were philosophy backed. According to him, “the philosophy behind the then free education was not to read and write, but to create an egalitarian society whereby everybody will have equal opportunity. It was in this line that free healthcare policy and rural integration was conceived to ensure the people were developed”.
He, therefore, said the forum was necessary to interact with the younger generation so that the principles of the late sage could be discussed with a view to expand the scope of the youth on the need for individual development.
Meanwhile, the representative of the Speaker of the Oyo state House of Assembly at the event, Hon. Joseph Oyebanji, called for the establishment of Awo radio station, where according to him, visions, philosophy and ideas of Awolowo could be broadcast to the people especially the youth.
Other eminent personalities at the event included Professor Banji Akintoye, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Professor Oladipo Akinkugbe, Senator Anthony Adefuye among others.