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Obafemi Awolowo’s Remembrance: 33 Things To Note About Best President Nigeria Never Had

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Obafemi Awolowo’s  Remembrance: 33 Things To Note About Best President Nigeria Never Had

 

Born Jeremiah Oyeniyi Obafemi Awolowo on March 6, 1909, in Ikenne, Ogun State, he was the first premier of the Western Region and later federal commissioner for finance, and vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Nigerian Civil War. 

Awolowo died peacefully at his Ikenne home on May 9, 1987, at the age of 78, after trying unsuccessfully to hold the highest political office in Nigeria three times. Thirty-three years after his death, Awolowo is still considered the Best President Nigeria Never Had…

  1. At the early stage of his life, Awolowo was journalist, teacher, clerk, moneylender, taxidriver, produce broker and was instrumental to the forming of the Nigerian Motor Transport Union, the Nigerian Produce Traders’ Association, the Trades Union Congress of Nigeria, and the Nigerian Youth Movement.
  2. In 1945, Awolowo wrote his first book, Path to Nigerian Freedom, in which he was highly critical of British policies of indirect administration and called for rapid moves toward self-government and Africanization of administrative posts in Nigeria.
  3. On Tuesday, December 24, 1946, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, was called to the bar. That year, only 7 other persons were enrolled namely; John Adejumo Kester who was called in January and who later became my Lord Hon. Justice Kester, the President of the Court of Appeal of Western Nigerian in 1967; Chuba Ikpeazu who rose to become my Lord Hon. Justice Ikpeazu,  Judge of the High Court of Lagos in 1964; Funso Blaize, Edward Randolph, Akitoye Tejuoso (Lisa of Egbaland and Baba Oba of Oke-Ona) and Charles Egerton Shyngle. In the case of Shyngle, he had earlier been enrolled in 1925. His name was however struck off the rolls in 1934 before he was reinstated in 1946.
  4. In 1949 he founded the Nigerian Tribune, the oldest surviving private Nigerian newspaper, which he used to spread nationalist consciousness among his fellow Nigerians.
  5. In 1950 Awolowo founded and organized the Action Group political party in Western Nigeria to participate in the Western Regional elections of 1951.
  6. In 1954, Awolowo became the first premier of the Western Region.
  7. He established WNTV (Western Nigeria television), the first television station in Africa, now Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) in Africa in 1959.
  8. Also in 1959, published his second book with the eponymous title – Awo: An Autobiography of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, in which he once more endorsed federalism as the most appropriate form of government for Nigeria.
  9. He also erected the first skyscraper in tropical Africa:the Cocoa House (still the tallest in Ibadan).
  10. In 1959, Awolowo lost his first bid to lead Nigeria when his political party, Action Group failed to gather required seats to become Prime Minister, so found himself leader of the opposition in the Federal House of Representatives.
  11. Awolowo introduced free primary education for all and free health care for children in the Western Region.
  12. In 1960, he facilitated the building of  the first standard stadium in Africa named Liberty Stadium in Ibadan.
  13. He was also the official Leader of the Opposition in the federal parliament to the Balewa government from 1959 to 1963.
  14. Awolowo was the first individual in the modern era to be named Leader of the Yorubas (Yoruba: Asiwaju Awon Yoruba or Asiwaju Omo Oodua).
  15. The stadium went ahead to host the first world boxing title fight in Africa(1962). The bout saw Nigeria’s Dick Tiger beating America’s Gene Fullmer to win the world middleweight boxing title.
  16. His Segun Awolowo died in 1963 at age 25 by car accident at the old Ibadan-Lagos road while Awolowo was being tried for treason in Lagos.
  17. In 1963 Awolowo was found guilty of conspiring to overthrow the government of Nigeria and was sentenced to ten years of imprisonment.
  18. In early 1966, the military took power and suspended the Constitution prompting Awolowo while in prison to write his third book – Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution – in which he argued for the retention of a federal form of government composed of 18 states.
  19. But following the counter coup of July 28, 1966, Awolowo was released by the Yakubu Gowon led military government to reduce the political tension in the Western Region. He was subsequently made the federal commissioner for finance, and vice chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Nigerian Civil War. He was in office between 1967 to 1971.
  20. As against the subsisting belief that Awolowo betrayed the Eastern part of Nigeria during the Civil War, he was actually a member of the National Conciliation Committee, which attempted to mediate a rift between the federal government and the Eastern Region, which was inhabited predominantly by the Igbo people. Mediation attempts failed, and he eventually threw his support behind the federal government when the region seceded as the Republic of Biafra, sparking civil war (1967–70).
  21. As the Federal Commissioner of Finance, Awolowo was credited with coining the name “naira” for the Nigerian standard monetary unit. He did so by collapse Nigeria to Naira something like current general did with Nigeria to Naija.
  22. Obafemi Awolowo was Installation As The First Chancellor Of The University Of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University)  At Ile-Ife In 1967
  23. While in government, Awolowo in 1968 published his fourth book – The People’s Republic –  calling for federalism, democracy, and socialism as the necessary elements in a new constitution which would lead to the development of a stable and prosperous Nigeria.
  24. Obafemi Awolowo was conferred with the prestigious rank of Senior Advocate of Nigeria in 1978. He was the 4th Nigerian to be so honoured. Chief FRA Williams, Dr. Nabo Graham-Douglas and Dr. Augustine Nnamani were the first, second and third  persons respectively in 1975.
  25. The Unity Party of Nigeria was formed on September 22 1978, a day after the 21 September 1978 lifting of the ban on political activities. It was formed by some foundation members of the defunct Action Group (AG). Obafemi Awolowo was the founder and leader of the UPN.
  26. Obafemi Awolowo introduced free healthcare for children up to the age of 18 in the Western Region as well as free and mandatory primary education in Western Nigeria. Although Awolowo failed to win the 1979 and 1983 presidential elections (the results of which were questionable), his policies of free healthcare and education were rolled out in all of the states controlled by his party, UPN.
  27. He ran for president in the elections of 1979 and 1983 but was defeated both times by Shehu Shagari.
  28. In 1982, Awo as fondly called was conferred by President Shehu Shagari with the title of the Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR), the first non-president to be so honoured in recognition of his sterling qualities and contributions to the service of the country.
  29. He held many chieftaincy titles including the Losi of Ikenne, Lisa of Ijeun, Asiwaju of Remo, Odofin of Owo, Ajagunla of Ado-Ekiti, Apesin of Osogbo, Odole of Ife and Obong Ikpa Isong of Ibibioland.
  30. Awolowo’s other publications include Anglo-Nigerian Military Pact Agreement (1960), Philosophy of Independent Nigeria(1961), Blueprint for Post-war Reconstruction (1967), The Path to Economic Freedom in Developing Countries (1968),Problems of Africa (1977), Awo on the Nigeria Civil War (1982), Adventures in Power (1985), and selected speeches such as ‘Voice of Reason,’ ‘Voice of Courage’ and ‘Voice of Wisdom’ (all published in 1981).
  31. Awolowo died at his Ikenne home, the Efunyela Hall (named after his mother) on May 9, 1987 at the age of 78.
  32. In 1999, Onafemi Awolowo’s face was featured in the 100 Naira banknote.
  33. Thirty years after his death, the Liberty Stadium he built in Ibadan with a seating capacity of 35,000 was renamed after him by President Jonathan Ebele Goodluck.

 

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