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AWOLOWO ON EXPLOITATION: ‘’Says Lenin: “THERE WILL BE NO EXPLOITERS IF THERE ARE NO EXPLOITABLES”

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KNOWING ABOUT THE PAST:  AWOLOWO’S LECTURE AT THE ALUMNI LECTURE COMMEMORATING THE SILVER JUBILEE ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN

 OBAFEMI AWOLOWO ON DISSENT: ‘’That is the freedom to disagree with, to criticize, and to chastise the government of the day, with as much vehemence and robustness as your eloquence or literary skill can command. ‘’It was the guarantee of this freedom, and its effective employment by African nationalist that had made our political independence a reality. ‘’In my humble judgement, and with the greatest respect to all our rulers in Africa, it appears crystal clear that this freedom of dissent is not only long in abeyance since independence; but also, now in danger of total extinction.’’

 AWOLOWO ON EXPLOITATION: ‘’Says Lenin: “THERE WILL BE NO EXPLOITERS IF THERE ARE NO EXPLOITABLES”

The silver jubilee anniversary of the University of Ibadan was marked with fanfare in 1973. Records reveal that that period still fell with the time when the campuses enjoyed huge respect and admiration of the citizenry. Just consider these: Gen Yakubu Gowon, GCFR was Visitor to the University. Sir Samuel Manuwa was Pro Chancellor & Chairman of Council; and Prof. Horatio Oritsejolomi Thomas was Vice Chancellor. Now consider those awarded honourary Doctorate Degrees before they soon became one per penny.  Emperor Haile Sellasie of Ethiopia, who never came because of the precarious situation in his country; Professor C. W. L. Bevan, who in the period of 13 years served as Professor and Head of the Department of Chemistry in 1953; and Dean of Science and Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

Two alumni members: Professor Ishaya Audu, then Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, and Mr. Michael Omolayole, described by the University Orator as a captain of industry. In attendance was the first Principal/Vice Chancellor of the University, Dr & Mrs Kenneth Mellanby; who was recognized for ‘’his selfless Service’’ and  Professor Kenneth Dike, the first Vice-Chancellor of the University, who was then an Andrew Mellon Professor of African History at Harvard University. Easily one of the most interesting events was the public lecture delivered by that great legend, Chief Obafemi Awolowo ( I never saw or read where he used the prefix: Dr’’ in spite of the numerous honourary Degrees he received. Tragically, some honourary doctorate awardees now put the prefix ‘’PhD’’ after their names. A sacrilege!

One of the events that promoted feelings of empathy was recognitions. That came for the following at the November 17, 1973 event: ‘’Professor A. L. Mabogunje, Head of the Department of Geography, who early this month was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Economics by the Stockholm School of Economics. (iii) Professor O. O. Akinkugbe, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, who was invited by the Uganda Government to serve on their National Universities Commission for the triennium 1973-1976’’

Other recognitions were for Professor V. A. Oyenuga, Deputy Vice-Chancellor who was appointed a member of the 20-man founding committee of the United Nations University; (v) Professor T. Ajibola Taylor, Head of the Department of Agricultural Biology, who was appointed a member of the Permanent Committee of the International Congress of Entomology at the 14th International Congress of Entomology in Canberra, Australia; (vi) Professor A. 0. Lucas, Head of the Department of Preventive and Social Medicine, who was awarded the first Ademola Memorial Prize by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for his contributions to the promotion of health in developing countries; (vii) Professor E. L. Odeku of the Department of Surgery, who was one of the four recipients of the Alumni Award of Howa r d University, Washington D.C., at the 106th Anniversary of the founding of the University on 2 March, 1973; and (viii) Professor M. O. Oyawoye, Head of the Department of Geology, who was appointed to the Board of the IGCP (International Geological Correlation Programme).

LECTURE DELIVERED BY CHIEF OBAFEMI AWOLOWO; SAN, GCFR: That legend of his time, Chief Obafemi Awolowo delivered the Alumni Lecture whose thought provoking piece, in which Awolowo, in proposing the toast of the Alumni Association announced two main reasons declared that:  ‘’First, it is a matter of stimulating delight to be in a gathering of this elevating character and composition; and second;  it is a rare opportunity to play some part during the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the oldest and exemplary university in Nigeria’.Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s treatise is reproduced below:

AWOLOWO ON EXPLOITATION: ‘’Says Lenin: “THERE WILL BE NO EXPLOITERS IF THERE ARE NO EXPLOITABLES” Enjoy the illuminating text.

POVERTY IS THE PARENT OF REVOLUTION ….  OBAFEMI AWOLOWO … AN ADDRESS DELIVERED AT THE UNIVERSITY OF IBADAN .. 1973.

 TWENTY FIVE YEARS .. AN INFINITESIMAL TIME SCALE: Twenty-five years is an infinitesimal time-scale in the life of an institution such as the University of Ibadan which has every prospect of perpetual survival. But, in the life of every individual alumnus, and for that matter, of every individual human being, a quarter of a century is a considerable span. For, whatever may be our individual feeling to the contrary and howsoever we may try, it is absolutely certain that not all those who participate in or witness these Silver Jubilee celebrations of the University of Ibadan will be on this side of the great divide when the Golden Jubilee is celebrated 25 years hence. The reputation of a university depends, I dare say, wholly on the soundness of its teachings and on the calibre and quality of its graduates. In these two regards the University of Ibadan has had to its credit an immense success which can be equalled but cannot be excelled.

 

PERFORMANCE

In this connection, it should be emphasised that by their individual performances in all the spheres of human endeavours to which they have been assigned, the alumni of the University of Ibadan have done more than anything else to put a stamp of genuine respectability and of unaffected international recognition on the degree awarded by the university. It is true to say that today, the alumni of the University of Ibadan are playing very influential as well as decisive roles in the affairs not only of Nigeria but also of Africa and the world. Look in any direction you like-worthy direction, I mean-the story is the same; the alumni and alumnae of this great university are to be found displaying strong, challenging, and decisive presence. Where all are worthy of mention, one can only confine oneself in a short speech to the promontories that one knows. The current Secretary-General of the OAU, Mr Nzo Ekangaki, is an alumnus of the University of Ibadan and a member of the OAU, General Yakubu Gowon, is an honorary alumnus.

 

Both of them are carrying quite admirably I think Africa’s burden which of late, is made heavier by the Middle-East war. Two of the military governors in Nigeria in the persons of Brigadier Oluwole Rotimi and Commissioner of Police Mr Joseph Gomwalk are members of this association. Two names readily come to mind: they are Messrs Adamu Ciroma and Areoye Oyebola. They both have one paradoxical quality in common. Each of them is as the ancient Roman would put it, “Cuaviter in modo, fortiter in re”; quiet, shy and unassuming in manners, but formidable in wielding the pen. The civil service, the Armed Forces, the Police Force, the Prisons and any other spheres of human activities you can think of are manned in the higher cadre, largely by members of your association. So far; so good. There is a trite saying: To whom much is given, much is expected. And to be quite candid the members of your association, as patriots, nationalists, and social reformers and innovators are still to win their spurs. There is no doubt whatsoever that you have all performed most creditably in all the spheres to which you have been assigned.

 

FORTUNE

But, in all this, you have the unique fortune of being successors and heirs to a political and social inheritance which admittedly, is mixed but is on the whole conducive to healthy and self-respecting growth and development on all fronts. Among this inheritance are a free and united Nigeria, the Organisation of African Unity, and respect for the dignity of

the African. The duty which now devolves upon you is to uphold this inheritance from impairment and corrosion and to improve immeasurably upon it. Here then is the rub and the urgency of your new assignments. For, if the truth must be told, there are certain vital matters common to Africa in general and peculiar to Nigeria

 

ACCOUNTS

From all accounts, both of them are acquitting themselves as competently as any other military ruler in the country. Lest we forget, one of the five celebrated or ill-famed majors (all depending on which side of the fence one is) who were the harbingers of military rule in Nigeria was Major Ifeajuna – an alumnus of the University of Ibadan. In the highly, sometimes cut-throat, competitive arena of business, your association has outstanding representatives; two of them are Mr Michael 0molayole of Unilever and Mr Adokpaye of Mobil who are top executive directors in their respective organizations.

 

In the field of education and learning at all levels, members of your association are prominently in the vanguard: there is Dr Ishaya Audu, Vice-Chancellor of Ahmadu Bello University, under whom ABU has made enviable progress. There is also Professor Akin Mabogunje who has won international recognition as one of the world’s leading scholars in Geography and there is Professor (Mrs) 0gunsheye, who has risen from the humble status of student to the enviable height of a Professor-all in the University of Ibadan, moving in the process from the wooden army barracks turned University campus at Eleiyele, to the present beautiful campus on Oyo road. She was present at the foundation of the University of Ibadan.

And whenever the story of the nativity of her alma mater is told in centuries to come the name of Mrs 0gunsheye will be mentioned also. Dr J. F. Ade Ajayi and Mr Osinulu; Vice-Chancellor and Registrar respectively of the University of Lagos,  are also your fellow alumni. It was thoughtful of the Council and Senate to do well-deserved honour, on this historic occasion to Audu and 0molayole by the award to them of honorary degrees. The modern church militant also has one of your members in its leadership He is no other than your respected chairman, Mr. Bola Ige. He is the current chairman of the World Council of Churches Committee to combat racism.

The newspapers, the radio, the other actors of the mass media are almost wholly dominated by members of your association. The newspapers, the radio, the other actors of the mass media are almost wholly dominated by members of your association. But, in all this, you have the unique fortune of being successors and heirs to a political and social inheritance which admittedly, is mixed but is on the whole conducive to healthy and self-respecting growth and development on all fronts. Among this inheritance are a free and united Nigeria, the Organisation of African Unity, and respect for the dignity of the African.

The duty which now devolves upon you is to uphold this inheritance from impairment and corrosion and to improve immeasurably upon it. Here then is the rub and the urgency of your new assignments. For, if the truth must be told, there are certain vital matters common to Africa in general and peculiar to Nigeria in particular, which must be attended to by you and all of us with a due sense of urgency, despatch, and resolution. I will try to enumerate some of them briefly. For Africa as a whole, I will only outline six such matters, among others. One: In time past, the most potent weapon which African nationalists had employed in their fight for political freedom was freedom of dissent.

DISSENT

That is, the freedom to disagree with, to criticise, and to chastise the government of the day, with as much vehemence and robustness as your eloquence or literary skill can command. It was the guarantee of this freedom, and its effective employment by African nationalist that had made our political independence a reality. In my humble judgement, and with the greatest respect to all our rulers in Africa, it appears crystal clear that this freedom of dissent is not only long in abeyance since independence; but also, now in danger of total extinction. Freedom of Dissent is a positive good: it is the best safeguard against tyranny, and the surest preventive of avoidable costly error on the part of the government of the day.

 

Two: The struggle against involuntary political and economic enslavement under colonial rule was over during the last decade in most part of Africa. But the struggle against voluntary subservience and submission to neo-colonialism is yet to begin. Our frequent and unabating declamation against neo-colonialism appears to me to be pretentious exercise and deliberate diversion. For the true and real neo-colonialists are no other than we Africans ourselves. It is we, in spite of our political independence and sovereignty, who voluntarily submit to economic, and sometimes diplomatic dominance from outside our borders.

Resolutions

Says Lenin: “THERE WILL BE NO EXPLOITERS IF THERE ARE NO EXPLOITABLES”

Three: Only goodness knows how many resolutions we have passed, and how many billions of words we have spoken in condemnation:

  1. of the last vestiges of colonialism in some parts of Africa
  2. of white domination of Africans in Rhodesia and the Southern parts of our continent, and
  3. of racial inequality and discrimination as between black and white in Africa and even in other parts of the world.

 

It is my respectful submission that all these evil things against which we most vehemently and quite justly inveigh, will continue until one African is equal to one white man in all respects.

 

Four: Further in this connection, and if I may borrow a biblical expression-“l say unto you” that one white-man will continue to be equal to twenty Africans, or, at any rate, to much more than one African, until African leaders are able to muster enough courage and dedication to venture into the contemporary fast-flowing stream of education, science and technology which alone can sweep our continent into a greater and nobler future where racial equality will no longer be a matter of patronising concession on the part of the whites, but one of accepted necessity among all races of the world. The current crusade for the preservation of our cultural heritage is highly commendable. In this connection, we have every right to look up to the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who is an honorary alumnus of the University of Ibadan, and who also is the farsighted author of the new federalism in Nigeria, to see to it that nothing is done or left undone which may tend to, or actually reduce the states to the status of glorified local councils.

But we must not allow our pre-occupation with our past to make us lose sight of what these contemporary times demand both in efforts and resources for the promotion of education, science and technology, and for the quick advent of the greater and more glorious future which awaits our continent as a result.

Five: To all intents and purposes, in economic terms, Africa is today a beggar-continent. At all times and at every turn, we beg for aid. However, as beggars, we are in a class by ourselves. When we beg, we do not grovel.

ASSUMPTION

Instead, we assume an air of superciliousness, and demand that the donors should attach no strings to the gifts. And when strings are attached, as they invariably are, we pretend to ourselves that they do not exist. But our budgets always tell the true story.

 

SIX: For some time now, to be precise since the attainment of political independence by African countries-a terrible monster has been stalking the face of Africa, and threatening to hold full and permanent rein on the continent to the detriment of the masses of our people. It is the monster of TENACITY OF OFFICE. The chief characteristics of this monster are inordinate and shameless love of public office; and morbid desire for its own sake, even when the legitimacy for such power does not exist or has completely disappeared. So much for Africa in general. For Nigeria in particular, there are two matters which compel our urgent attention. Recent government measures ominously suggest that Nigeria may already have started to slip, albeit unwittingly, from federalism back to unitarianism.

 

In this connection, we have every right to look up to the Head of State, General Yakubu Gowon, who is an honorary

alumnus of the University of Ibadan, and who also is the farsighted author of the new federalism in Nigeria, to see to it that nothing is done or left undone which may tend to, or actually reduce the states to the status of glorified local councils.

  1. Nigeria is fast becoming a country of extreme regional and interpersonal contradictions.   Poverty: In some parts of the country and amongst some individuals, what Rostow, in his famous book The Stages of Growth-A Non-Communist Manifesto, describes as Buddenbrook’s Dynamics, is already at work, whilst grinding poverty reigns supreme in some other parts of the country. If I may put it in my own words, what Buddenbrook’s Dynamics means simply is that the higher you go in the social ladder the wider your field of cognition and your horizon of wants and discontent. On the other hand, and by way of contrast, what “POW ER DYNAMICS” (If I may be permitted this heresy) denotes is that the lower you actually sink or imagine you sink in quagmire of poverty and wants, the narrower becomes your field of cognition, and the deeper your discontent.

Says Aristotle: “Poverty is the parent of revolution”. In some parts of the country and amongst some individuals, what Rostow, in his famous book The Stages of Growth-A Non-Communist Manifesto, describes as Buddenbrook’s Dynamics, is already at work, whilst grinding poverty reigns supreme in some other parts of the country. If I may put it in my own words, what Buddenbrook’s Dynamics means simply is that the higher you go in the social ladder the wider your field of cognition and your horizon of wants and discontent.

On the other hand, and by way of contrast, what “POWER DYNAMICS” (If I may be permitted this heresy) denotes is that the lower you actually sink or imagine you sink in quagmire of poverty and wants, the narrower becomes your field of cognition, and the deeper your discontent. Says Aristotle: “Poverty is the parent of revolution”.

May I, in closing, congratulate, most warmly, all the members of the Alumni Association of the University of Ibadan, and ask all my fellow-guests here tonight to rise and drink with me, as lustily as we ever can, the toast of the Alumni Association of the University of Ibadan, the premier and exemplar university in Nigeria.