Ambode: Awolowo’s Contributions Key to Restructuring Nigeria

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• Unveils statute in honour of late sage
Gboyega Akinsanmi
The call for a negotiated restructured federation on Tuesday was on the front burner yesterday when Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, noted that the thoughts and ideas of the first Premier of the Western Region, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, were key to redefining the future of Nigeria.

Ambode equally defended the position of Lagos State on restructuring, which according to him, was in line with the standpoints stipulated in the manifesto of the All Progressives Congress (APC).
He expressed the views yesterday after unveiling a 20-feet statute the Lagos State Government erected at the intersection of Lateef Jakande Road and Obafemi Awolowo Way in honor of the late sage.

The unveiling was witnessed by some children and grandchildren of the late sage including the Chairman of African Newspapers of Nigeria Plc, Mrs. Omotola Oyediran and her husband, Prof. Kayode Oyediran; Executive Director of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, Mrs. Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu; Executive Director of Nigerian Export Promotion Council, Dr. Segun Awolowo and wife of the Vice-President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo.

 Ambode, who paid tribute to the late sage before unveiling the statute, explained the relevance of Awolowo’s ideas and thoughts to modern Nigeria, noting that it remained a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership.

Thirty years after his death, according to him, Awolowo’s thoughts and ideas on a wide range of issues relating to the economy, fiscal federalism and education among several others “are still as relevant today as they were back in time.

He said his legacies and landmark achievements, particularly in South Western Nigeria including Lagos State, “have endured and remain a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership.”
He added that Awolowo was a symbol “to the aspiration of Western Nigeria and Lagos territory during his days. His achievements at the helm of affairs in Western Nigeria, gave us supremacy and that is what Lagos has alwaysaspired to be.”

On the call for a negotiated restructured Nigeria, Ambode defended the position of Lagos State on restructuring, noting that the position of the state was different from what the APC stipulated in its manifesto.

Ambode quoted a portion of the manifesto, stating that the APC “shall initiate action to amend our constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true federalism and the federal spirit.”

He, therefore, said the people of the state “are adamant in making sure that this part of the party’s manifesto comes to pass and as the late sage rightly said in one of his eternal thoughts.”
He said this resolve was consonant with a line of thought the late sage once canvassed in one of his books, whose commitment to the growth and development of our nation was further demonstrated during the post-independence era.

Ambode also quoted as thus: “The Nigeria which the British handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration. It is up to contemporary Nigerian leaders to neutralise these forces, preserve the Nigerian inheritance, and make all our people free, forward-looking and prosperous.”

He therefore, explained the significance of the statue the state government erected in Awolowo’s honour, noting that it “is a decision taken in recognition of all the good legacies that the Awolowo dynasty is enviably known for and the beginning of the realization of all his aspirations for a better Nigeria and the Yoruba people in particular.”

He explained that the monument “is erected by the Lagos State Government to celebrate the legendary achievements and contributions of an icon in political leadership, Awolowo.
“This statue is not just about beautifying the environment or serving as a tourist attraction, but more importantly, it is meant to be a constant reminder to all of us and future generations of the need to value the sacrifice of our heroes and strive to uphold and promote the ideals which they stood for.”