A former secretary general of the Commonwealth of Nations and Chairman of the Selection Committee of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has said power devolution to states is the best option for the country at the moment.
Anyaoku said this, yesterday, in Lagos, at the 110th anniversary of the birth of the sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and award of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership to a distinguished Nigerian, Chief Afe Babalola.
The former Commonwealth secretary general, who also praised Awolowo for his leadership qualities, said the award was established by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation in 2009, to honour Awolowo’s memory and worthy legacy, as one of the country’s most outstanding founders and leaders.
He said Awolowo has been aptly described as the best president Nigeria never had, and his accomplishments, both in the leadership of the Western region of Nigeria as Premier and in the service of the country at the federal level, have remained among the most admirable aspects of Nigeria’s history.
Anyaoku said Awolowo’s writings, especially his book, “Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution,” have continued to inspire many political thinkers and activists as well as scholars, who genuinely want to see a united, politically stable, peaceful and progressively developing Nigeria.
According to Anyaoku, the current widespread agitation for a restructuring of the country’s present non-conducive governance architecture is partly informed by what many people consider to be Chief Awolowo’s incontrovertible analysis and prescriptions for successful management of Nigeria’s pluralism.
“It bears repeating to say that the experiences across the world have shown that any country with a history and diversity that are comparable to Nigeria’s, can only achieve unity, stability and deserved development, if it has a governance architecture, i.e., a constitution that devolves considerable powers to its component parts and has at its centre, a Federal Government that operates on an inclusive basis,” he said.
Anyaoku said Awolowo leadership prize is awarded to individuals who are judged to have demonstrated in their public life, if not in equal measure, certainly in approximation to the attributes and achievements on which the enduring reputation of the sage, Chief Awolowo, is based.
“It is, I believe, well known that among the attributes demonstrated by Chief Awolowo in his public life were integrity, credibility, discipline, selflessness, visionary and people-centred leadership, respect for the rule of law, accountability, courage, and tenacity of purpose.
“Although the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership was established 10 years ago, today is only the third time it is being awarded. The two previous recipients of the award, whose careers and international standings do not need any elaboration to this audience, are Nigeria’s Wole Soyinka and South Africa’s former president Thabo Mbeki. The third recipient, who we are here to celebrate, is Nigeria’s Chief Afe Babalola.
“In addition to manifesting the attributes that I’ve already associated with Chief Awolowo, the recipients are judged to have demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities in most, if not all, of the following four areas: leadership in politics and governance; leadership in corporate governance and social responsibility; leadership in educational transformation; and leadership in people-centred advocacy and support for the underprivileged.”