Lagos and the resurrected Awo

Obafemi Awolowo Statue Lateef Jakande Road, Ikeja.

Sir: IN Othello, one of his famous works, iconic playwright, Williams Shakespeare, flawlessly stresses the importance good reputation with the following words: “Good name in man and woman, dear my lord, is the immediate jewel of their souls: Who steals my purse steals trash; is something, nothing; was mine, is his, and has been slave to thousands; But he that filches from me my good name Robs me of that which not enriches him, And makes me poor indeed.”

This, perhaps, amply describes what the motivation of late sage, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, throughout his political and public service career was in building for himself a rare reputation that was hinged on integrity, sacrifice, commitment and selflessness. No wonder, thirty years after his demise, his name still rings a bell across the land and beyond, opening doors for members of his family as well as political associates. It is, therefore, not surprising when the late sage metaphorically resurrected in Lagos State recently with the State Government’s unveiling of a new iconic statue in honour of the revered icon. The striking sculpture located along Obafemi Awolowo Way by the Lagos Television (LTV) junction in, Agidingbi, Ikeja, is no doubt a befitting replacement for the old Awolowo statue that used to be at the Allen Avenue roundabout in Ikeja, Lagos. Standing at 20 feet, the new Awo statue reinforces the unwavering commitment of the Lagos State Government to appreciating the contributions of patriots whose deeds and ideals were instrumental to the social-economic and political well being of Lagos State in particular and Nigeria in general.

Hannah Arendt, German-born US philosopher and historian, once said that the connection between history and nature is by no means an opposition. History receives into its remembrance those mortals who through deeds and words have proved themselves worthy of nature, and their everlasting fame means that they may remain in the company of the things that last forever. Immortalizing our heroes, is surely one way of spurring present and future generation of Nigerians to effectively connect with our past with a view to committing them to the vision and ideals of our founding fathers. With several agitations for one thing or the other across the country, there is, indeed, no better time to do this than this particular period in the history of our dear nation.

In Nigeria, the subsequent drop in the quality of leadership inevitably is the result of decline and seemingly loss of hope by many in the nation.  One of the most important ways of instilling patriotism and inculcating self-belief and a can-do spirit in our youth is through immortalizing our heroes, both past and living. It is important that we regularly cull from the life of our heroes, great lessons in discipline, altruism, honesty, focus, perseverance, patriotism and hardwork among other useful virtues. It is hoped that by immortalizing our heroes and ultimately calling attention to the ideals they hold in high esteem, our compatriots, young and old, would be encouraged to live a selfless life that is anchored on patriotism and integrity.

Tayo Ogunbiyi is of the Lagos State Ministry of Information and Strategy, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos.

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Lagos StateObafemi Awolowo


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