Leadership failure responsible for Nigeria’s woes, says Awolowo-Dosunmu

Tokunbo-Awolowo-DosunmuNOSTALGIC feelings of the era of late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo in Western region have been the burden of Nigerians who have been traumatized by the failings of successive administrations to meet their aspirations for good governance.

These yearnings informed the thoughts for a re-visit of the philosophy of the late sage in governance especially in the area of politics, education and economy. Awolowo Foundation, a brainchild of Dr. Mrs. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, former Ambassador to Netherlands and daughter of foremost nationalist and first Premier of Western Region is championing the course.

Specifically, as Nigeria continues to grapple with these challenges that threaten the very foundation of the nation, Dr. Awolowo-Dosunmu, laid the blame of the apparent failure of governance on inefficient leadership.

Awolowo-Dosunmu, who spoke at a media event to herald the 2016 commemorative celebrations of the life and times of the late sage, scheduled to hold tomorrow (Thursday) at his Ikenne, Ogun State residence, lamented the reverse in the fortunes of education, particularly in the South West, despite the fact that the region held the pride of place in the sector during the early Republics.

There is a problem with the leadership and followership. In the days of Chief Awolowo, he emerged leader because that was the decision of the followership. He was identified and picked to be the leader. In order words, the followership at that time knew what they wanted and they were discerning enough to look at all the individuals that aspired to leadership to determine which one was suitable.

She charged the leadership of the region to devote more resources and political energies to the development of necessary infrastructure with the aim of improving the fortune of the region.

Awolowo-Dosunmu, who is also the Executive Director of the Awolowo Foundation said, “It is true there could only be one Chief Awolowo, our leaders today are probably working under a constrain that we don’t know but the yearnings of Nigerians is for them to do more to develop every individual that is in our country like Chief Awolowo did in his days.”

Taking a critical look at those challenges confronting Nigeria, she said the only and effective solution was for the present leaders to revisit the resolutions of the 2014 National Conference.

According to her, “It will be a great pity if the report is abandoned because there were a lot of recommendations in it that would help us move this country forward. I am so certain about that. Federalism is the first and foremost issue. Is it this kind of Federalism that was bequeathed to our generation? I am not so sure. In the case where the states are subservient to the centre; I don’t think it is healthy. I just believe we would do better if, as in the First Republic, each region were given enough autonomy. And then I think the concept of sharing money from Abuja just caused everybody to sleep and not to work hard.”

Baring her mind on the declining state of education under the present political dispensation, the former ambassador said, “any decline in education and other necessary infrastructure in which the South West region used to be number one is disappointing.”

According to her, “In the days of Chief Obafemi Awolowo, when free education was established and was going on, what they budgeted to education was a way in excess of what UNESCO now suggests should be the case. In those days their philosophy was that the priority in their budget must go to those things that would expand the quality of citizenry and anything that doesn’t fit that description would go into the back burner. So I think in the area of budgeting there is need for a lot of reviews, a lot of reforms.”

The leadership and followership have no choice than to do those things that could have been better done in the days of plenty. We need to diversify the economy and develop every Nigerian so that we can find innovators amongst us, innovators not only in technical terms but in terms of ideas too. This is the best way out

Nigeria’s declining economy
Lamenting the current dire economic situations that the nation finds itself, Awolowo-Dosunmu said the leadership and followership have no choice than to do those things that could have been better done in the days of plenty adding, “We need to diversify the economy and develop every Nigerian so that we can find innovators amongst us, innovators not only in technical terms but in terms of ideas too. This is the best way out.”

On the call for restricted importation to encourage local production, she said, “The entire world has moved beyond a situation where you can close your doors and ban this and that. To some extent, you have to protect the home economy for so many reasons, but at the same time, I don’t think we live in a world where we can stand in isolation.

“The government needs to encourage local production but at the same time the quality has to be of a certain level in order to expand our manufacturing base. We need a lot of foreign exchange because we don’t produce most of the machinery needed for some of the local production here either. So we are between the devil and the deep blue sea at the moment.”

To her the argument that Nigeria’s present woes were as a result of leadership inadequacies was right but the blame should go to both sides of the divide.

According to her, “There is a problem with the leadership and followership. In the days of Chief Awolowo, he emerged leader because that was the decision of the followership. He was identified and picked to be the leader. In order words, the followership at that time knew what they wanted and they were discerning enough to look at all the individuals that aspired to leadership to determine which one is suitable.

“Followers in those days joined the political parties of their choice and paid money into the coffers of the party to have a voice and they did. They did go to meetings and they paid their dues every week and also asked the leadership hard questions about amenities and their needs. So there were interactions. They made their leaders to give account of their stewardships. They supported leaders that they could trust and questioned if the need be. Can we say that today?”
On the alleged marginalization of the South by the Buhari-led government, the former ambassador called for time, saying that the government has only been in office less than a year adding, “I am sure, you know we went on the platform of the Yoruba Unity Forum (YUF), which encompasses all shades of political opinion. Right now, there are some amongst us who have access to make these things move high up there, but I supposed we have to exhaust that route first before we go public.”

My political ambition
“I moved from politics to advocacy since 1992. Since I set up this place (Awolowo Foundation), we cannot afford to remain in partisan politics because Papa, as I have often said, transited from being a person to an idea on the 9th of May 1987. Papa is an idea now and his philosophy is available to all.

If you look at the goals in the Action Group (AG) of those days, just look at them and what they did, you would see that they translated to what we now call the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If you look at his thought on human development, you would see that it was exactly what the World Bank is proposing now about human development index of its human development paradigm.

“So there is nothing partisan about what he was saying, it was just that the only vehicle by which he could actualize his vision was through politics and that was why he was a partisan politician and that was probably why his opponents shot down anything that he stood for. But I believe across the political divide now, we have progressives everywhere and people who believe in what he (Awolowo) stood for. So I have moved to advocacy. Anybody who follows Papa’s legacy and tries to move his vision into reality is my friend. So I am not a partisan politician, I ceased to be a partisan politician the moment this foundation came into being. What we deal with is idea about how to move the country forward.”



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