President Buhari Represents New Awo For Nigeria's Liberation

The late Chief  Obafemi  Awolowo  and President Muhammadu  Buhari  might  have  lived at different times but, like identical twins,  possess   many things  in common-dynamism, pragmatism, integrity, self-  discipline, vision  and passion-to make Nigeria  work. The  impeccable past of these tested leaders has  proved that the bane of the country’s slow development since independence has been lack  of  purposeful  leadership.

Buhari-and-Awo Unlike the  reluctant  leaders  who  had been imposed  on  us,   Awolowo  and Buhari,  both armed with impeccable records of performance, the former as Premier of the old Western Region  as well as Vice Chairman  of the Federal Executive Council  in the regime of Gen.  Yakubu  Gowon,  and the latter, as a military Head of State, etc, adequately prepared for  the leadership of Nigeria. Three times  were each  unsuccessful- Awolowo  in 1959, 1979, 1983  and  President  Buhari  in 2003, 2007  and 20011.

Their paths  might have  crossed  in one form or the other,  that may been  the unseen hand of God in their lives preparatory to the task ahead that  :”You  Obafemi Awolowo  is my Moses and you  Muhammadu  Buhari, my Joshua, for the libration of your  people  from the  ‘rats and mosquitoes’  of your country”.  Or could it be by sheer coincidence that, for the first time since independence, both the North and the South West are in effective political alliance?  The Thomas’s   may continue to doubt.

Like the Nostradamus that  he was,   Awolowo, in a paper delivered in  Kano in  1970,had  proposed  a seven- point agenda which  he  called national objectives  that should  be implemented simultaneously in  all the states of the federation for the rapid and even development of the country. He  explained  that   the revenue allocation formula should be based on the implementation of the seven objectives and, by so doing,  put an end to  the “endless search for the appropriate allocation  formula”. He was speaking in a paper titled, Revenue Allocation Must be Based  on Even Progress  and Needs,  delivered in his capacity as the Federal Commissioner of Finance,  to the annual  conference of state commissioners  of finance.

As if confirming the link between these great national heroes, Buhari recently implemented  item  seven of the   Awolowo’s   seven- point  objectives for national development  of  45 years ago  and, by so  doing,  been praised for  “bailing”  out states that could not pay workers salaries.  The late sage had said under this item that it was imperative to put the federal   government in  sufficient funds to enable it not only to perform its allotted functions but also to come readily to the aid of any state in need  while arguing: “But perchance any state falls on evil day, it would be the duty of  the federal government,  acting as  an accredited agent of all the  states, to  come to the aid of such a needy state without delay…

Before leaving this topic , one may ask  Buhari’s  critics  where they were  when former President  Goodluck  Jonathan granted some members of the private sector a bail out. For instance,  Arik  Airline got 600m  dollars, Aero  -200m dollars, Air Nigeria-225.8mdollars, Chachangi-55m dollars etc.(AMCON)  in addition to an attempt to buy aircrafts for them    but for  adverse public opinion.

Revisiting the Awo agenda

If one  of    Awolowo’s  seven  objectives  has been considered  well  enough  for  implementation,  the  remaining six, which  may equally  be  as  good, are  therefore  presented though in abridged form, for  consideration  by Mr. President.  They are-full employment, free education at all levels and free health services for all,  modernisation  of agriculture and  rural  development, rapid industrialization of each state  and  rapid development  of system of transportation.  Owing to the relevance of Awolowo’s paper to  the Nigeria of  today, I  had, at the formation of the All Progressive Party (APC), dropped a copy of  it  for Asiwaju  Bola  Tinubu  at his office, Freedom House, Victoria Island, for possible incorporation into the APC manifesto.

Discussing full employment,   Awolowo  called for full exploitation and efficient utilization of  minerals  resources as well as modernization of agriculture  explaining that the country’s  capability for phenomenal growth was tremendous and  colossal. He  warned that anything short of full employment which could only be provided  by exploitation of mineral resources and agriculture,   would be an admission of failure on the part of Nigerian leaders “ that they are not equal to their admittedly difficult but  at the same time inspiring and manageable  assignment”.

Whenever we talk of merely reducing employment and not stamping it out he  said,  “The  question which I always ask myself is-  who are the unfortunate  victims we  are planning to keep on the unemployment market?”Like Awolowo, bailing out distressed states could be  regarded as Buhari’s  demonstration of love for workers too.

On modernization of agriculture, and  industrialization, the sage, supporting his argument  with characteristic  statistics, said to achieve any of the ambitious projection, the country’s agriculture must be modernized and mechanized in a bold and massive manner. “We shall need to invest heavily  in  tractors, mechanical ploughs and riggers, fertilizers, pest control,  irrigation, research into high yielding grains and cattle ranches, fishing trawlers, etc”.   Awolowo, however, cautioned that none of the states could alone afford the level of investment  involved without the intervention of the federal government  acting in concert simultaneously with all the states.

As for industrialisation, he argued, that a properly developed agriculture in every state would  lead  to development of agro- allied industries automatically  as well as  manufacturing industries  and consequently, disappearance of uneven location of industries. He however warned that between agriculture and  industries, the  choice should be agriculture to  eradicate unemployment  explaining that while industries if properly managed could provide employment for 220,000 workers in the  next 12 years, agriculture would provide employment for  six million within five years.  Seeing 2015 way back in 1970, Chief  Awolowo  warned that “if it is the ardent and burning desire of those of us in the vanguard of public life to serve our age and the next generation faithfully, our area of concentration must ipso facto be agriculture.”


But how could uneducated and unhealthy population be productive? This was the concern of Awolowo  as he canvassed as ever,  for free education at all levels and free medical services for all, arguing: “Man is the alpha and omega of production and therefore   indispensable to rapid economic progress, political stability and social harmony. The more educated and healthy he becomes the more productive he becomes as an economic agent  and more effective as a member of the society”.  He   dismissed the fear  that money would be the problem but adequate manpower and called for immediate planning.

On development of system of transportation, Awolowo  said, “While  the northern  and  riverine areas  of the country,  for social and economic reasons, lag behind in transportation development and should be therefore given a special attention henceforth, the crucial point of convergence for most transportation activities  were those adjacent  to the ports of Port-Harcourt,   Calabar,  Sapele,Warri,  Escravos, Lagos and  Apapa.  It follows from  this fact that the development of those roads within  the areas of the Mid-West, Eastern, Western and Lagos Region which give  access  to the ports,  is of  concern to  all of the states in the federation.”  Predicting the chaotic situations of the roads   witnessed  today,   Awolowo warned: “Any transportation  difficulties in these areas are  bound to constitute  time-  wasting bottle-necks of the worst order.”

The question may be asked, of what relevance is the vision of 1970 to 2015? The answer may be found in the reality that Nigeria has not been blessed with a visionary and patriotic leader since the  Gowon era of  1970,who  could harness the common wealth for the benefit of all her citizens  as Chief  Awolowo   did for  his people as the Premier of the Western Region.  The metaphysical and psychological relationship  between   Awolowo  and Buhari  has shown that for the country to attain its potentials, there is an urgent need for another  visionary,  competent and  honest leader like Awolowo, who  Nigerians have found in   Buhari,   a man who came to power with  tons  of ‘universally acknowledged’ credibility that was  uncommon with his fore runners.

Apparently in  tandem  with Awolowo, Buhari  has already indicated that  he  would continue from where the sage stopped. Apart from”bailing”  out distressed states, the President told the Nigerian community during his four-day visit to the United States: “The  All Progressives Congress administration  would fulfil its three-pronged campaign  manifesto of providing security, turning around the economy with  major focus on youth employment and fighting corruption.” He said agriculture and  mining  would receive priority as a faster job- creating avenues for the teeming unemployed youths.

Those who could not  see yet  any difference in electricity supply in the past two months may equally not find  the correlation between Awolowo’s  economic road  map and  that of  Buhari. The sad news however  is that if  the projection of 1970 is still relevant  in2015, it means the past 45 years has  been that of  the locusts and  caterpillars  due to bad  governance. It is therefore not a  surprise  that Nigerians have unanimously voted for a   statesman  they  could   trust to remake the country. Good-bye  Awo, welcome  Buhari.


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