PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
ADDRESS BY THE
PRESIDENT OF THE SENATE
SENATOR (DR.) ANYIM PIUS ANYIM, GCON
GUEST OF HONOUR
AT THE LAUNCHING OF THE BOOK
AWO AS A PHILOSOPHER
THIS DAY, THURSDAY, MAY 23, 2002
First, I wish to most graciously thank the author of this book – Awo As a Philosopher – for giving me the privilege of playing the role of Guest of Honour. This, to me, is a rare privilege given the stature of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
To me, Awo As a Philosopher is book about an unusual philosopher, authored by a seasoned philosopher, Professor Moses Akin Makinde. for the rest of mankind. I say this with every sense of responsibility because I am convinced that the rest of us will find in the book a rich fountain of wisdom, anecdotes and seminal philosophical thoughts all of which formed the nexus of the ideologies and principles of the erstwhile Premier of the Western Region.
At this stage of the socio-political life of our dear country, it is only proper and apposite that we mirror the lives of our heroes past. I believe that by appraising their past, their ideals and thoughts, we would have provided for our generation and the generations yet unborn, a compass that will help shape, nurture and direct our future.
Clearly, the late Obafemi Awolowo belonged to the legion of Nigerians who led a life of selflessness and servitude for the emancipation and sovereignty of Nigeria. May I also note that the philosophies of Awo whether they are political, social or otherwise, if applied to our present day exigencies, will in no small measure help assuage the tempers of the various ethnic components of the Nigerian Union.
I did not have any personal relationship with Awo during his lifetime but I have come to associate the principle of Awoism with good and qualitative education, transparency and accountability and respect for human rights. These among others were the high democratic ideals which he exhibited in those days when he was premier of the Western Region. I recall that it is to Awo’s credit that many people in the old Western Region had the opportunity to go to school under the Universal Primary Education (UPE) programme. Such noble initiative can only come from a man of foresight and vision.
Today, 15 years after his death, this administration is drawing from such experience to implement the Universal Basic Education (UBE) Programme. We cannot but at this time give credit to the man who believed that the real emancipation of a man can only be measured by his mental development and not in terms of Naira and Kobo. Indeed, we owe him so much.
In the Senate, we believe like the late Awo, that education is the bedrock of development. We believe that an educated people will ultimately constitute an educated and civilized society. We also believe that where there is civility, crime, insecurity and sundry vices would be at their lowest ebb. These were the sterling touchstones that hallmarked the life and leadership of the late Awo. I am happy to inform this august gathering that these ideals still form the legislative templates of the nation’s upper legislative chamber. That is why the National Assembly did not waste any time in passing the Universal Basic Education Bill. And we are committed to the passage of similar bills that would enhance human development and capacity building among Nigerians.
It is on this note that I want to especially commend the author of the book for finding time to document the life and thoughts of a great statesman who in concert with others of his generation chose to walk the path of sacrifice and self-denial for the liberation of the country.
As a politician, I recommend this book to all politicians. As a law-maker, I recommend it to the legislature at all levels of government. Much more, I recommend it for the scientists, the sportsmen and the industrialists. For indeed and in truth, Awo’s thoughts and philosophies transcended the frontiers of politics and governance. He displayed a rare economic adroitness and dexterity in the manner he managed the economy of the old Western Region especially in the establishment of River Basin Development Authorities, small scale industries and many more.
This administration is today faced with the challenge of re-engineering the nation’s economy, rebuilding the broken walls that bind us together. To achieve this, we will need his wisdom, foresight and vision. Above all, we will need to imbibe his ideals of free and unfettered education as the first step towards restoring the dignity of the average Nigerian; free enterprise as typified in his economic blueprint for the Western Region and accountability as exemplified by his government.
We will do well as a people, as a nation if we take a second look at these ideals. I am sure they will help us govern well, legislate well and above all, they will help us become good followers. Once again, I congratulate the author on this laudable initiative. I thank you all.