Consider this scenario:
Chief Obafemi Awolowo …Premier, Western Region; from Remo Division, in today’s Ogun State
Prince Adeleke Adedoyin…Hon. Speaker, Western Regions from Remo Division, in today’s Ogun State
Justice Adetokunbo Ademola…. Chief Jusice, Western Region… from Abeokuta, in today’s Ogun State
Chief Simeon Adebo .. Head of the Civil Service, Western Region..from Abeokuta, in today’s Ogun State
Chief Jonathan Odebiyi…Leader of Government Business & Minister of Finance; from Egbado Division, in today’s Ogun State.
KEY PROJECTS OF THE WESTERN REGION GOVERNMENT OF THE FIRST REPUBLIC & WHERE SITUATED
WNTV/WNBS …. First in Africa; Ibadan, in today’s Oyo State
Liberty Stadium, Ibadan, in today’s Oyo State opened in 1960. (Now Obafemi Awolowo Stadium)
Cocoa House, Ibadan; in today’s Oyo State
University of Ife; commenced operations from Ibadan, where The Polytechnic, Ibadan is now situated
WEMABOD ESTATES … Ikeja, Western Region; until Lagos State was created. The Company was first formed in September 1962, with a share capital of 10,000 pounds
The Western Nigeria Cocoa Marketing Board, Ibadan, in today’s Oyo State
Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC) … in Ibadan, in today’s Oyo States (Transformed into O’dua Investment Co. Ltd)
Occasionally, it is imperative for human beings to look back, for the purpose of measuring strides taken,and hinderances encountered, to be able to plan constructively for the purpose of charting a proper course. The strategic position and influence of Western Region of Nigeria, over the decades, indicated that the region set the pace for development in Nigeria. That is not to say that there were no achievements recorded in other parts of the country. Part of what propelled development was healthy rivalry; as a result of the practice of true federalism by leaders who were selfless and committed to real development. All these developments all over Nigeria were recorded by highly imaginative minds; before the discovery of crude oil in commercial quantities. Just look at the projects highlighted above and think about what is likely to happen today with that type on near perfect arrangement based on the principle of utilizing the best materials irrespective of places of birth, religion, or ethnic background.
MAKING USE OF THE BEST MATERIALS
Take a look at the composition of the topmost officials of Government above. Then, fast forward to 1979; and see the composition of the Principal Officers of Old Oyo State Government.
Chief Bola Ige … Governor, Old Oyo State, from Esa Oke, in today’s Osun State
Chief Sunday Michael Afolabi ….Deputy Governor, Old Oyo State; till 1982; from Iree, Osun State
Chief Mokolade Gbolagunte from Eruwa, Ibarapa Division was Hon Speaker, Old Oyo State House of Assembly
Hon. Justice Oyeluyi Agbaje Williams …Chief Judge, Old Oyo State, was from Ilesha, in today’s Osun State
Chief Adebisi Akande … Secretary to Government, Old Oyo State; from Ila Orangun, in today’s Osun State; later Deputy Governor
Prof. Odebisi Odejide from today’s Osun State replaced Chief Bisi Akande as Secretary to Government
Princess Tejumade Alakija, from Ile Ife, in today’s Osun State was Head of the Old Oyo State Ciivil Service
We will analyze why peace reigned in spite of these compositions that would have been described as highly tilted in favour of a section of the State in our subsequent reports. But for now, largely, nobody complained because there was good governance by capable personalities. Today, Christians and Muslims would have protested all over every available space, as if religion has any proper place in governance. Who profits from such disturbances? The answer is very simple. The elites, and not the poor people who would never be qualified to be appointed into such sensitive positions but who, regrettably, consider themselves qualified to be employed as political thugs. The mace would most probably have been broken in a fiasco, or even stolen by opponents of any of the arrangements above, that were based purely on merit and economic considerations. Did the Western Region, and Old Oyo State not benefit tremendously from the arrangement? The highest institution in Awolowo’s Ikenne was Mayflower School founded by Tai Solarin.
It is possible that a Femi Adelegan as governor of Osun State, would probably succeed in securing approval from the State legislature to dredge the Lagos Lagoon to Ipetu Ijesha, my home town, simply by reason of the fact that I originate from that settlement; not minding the usefulness or otherwise of the venture. This is one of our huge problems. Now think about the fact that Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, born to Igbo parents in Zungeru, Niger State, sited the University of Nigeria in Nsukka and not in his home town. Ahmadu Bello University was established in Zaria and not in Sokoto; or even Bauchi, from where Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa hailed. I consider these as the results of the cosmopolitan nature of these great Nigerians, who were truly patriotic and wanted the best for their regions. No mundane considerations. The Legislative and Executive arms must disagree; though rationally, in public and national interests in all representative democracies. That is the beauty of democracy that emphasizes respect for the principles of checks and balances as enshrined in the Constitution.
THE NEED FOR TOLERANCE
We must be highly tolerant of criticisms as tonics for proper conducts when legitimately made by people who are stakeholders, in as much as these are made within the confines of the law and peacefully. For instance, students of the University College, Ibadan, patriotically stopped Nigeria from signing the Anglo Nigeria Defence Pact through protests. Nigerian students, in November 1960 opposed the Anglo – Nigerian Defence Pact, which gave the British government legal rights to establish military base in Nigeria. Six of them were tried in a Law court on the protest, but they won, as the defence pact was abrogated. It would profit societies to tolerate more of the likes of Tai Solarin, Gani Fawehinmi, Femi Falana, Funmilayo Ransome Kuti, Beko Ransome Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Adams Aliyu Oshiomhole, and Oby Ezekwesilis; who either had or have (as the case may be) points to make for consideration by the three arms and three tiers of Government without being branded antagonists/protagonists of pro or anti sides of developments that have obtruded themselves. It is important to note that conflicts would continue to occur in as much as people continue to hold individual myopic opinions that are self-serving, instead of paying particular attention to those issues that could propel the society towards development and near self-sufficiency.
The political space that should ideally act as the vehicle for the promotion of the culture of good governance should be managed in very friendly circumstances. Over time, avoidable and senseless conflicts have occurred as major problems. These have been provoked by such sensitive issues like control of resources of based on ethnic and tribal sentiments, and religious considerations. These have led to political conflicts, and in many instances, serious violence. These have largely proven to be the underlying reasons for these conflicts in cause of religious, tribal and ethnic considerations. We must be careful not to promote issues largely for personal economic and political gains. For instance, how many people would be bothered about the religion or tribe of their political rulers and leaders if good governance is provided, and people have surplus instead of hunger? The answer is that nobody would be bothered about the tribe or religion of whoever governs, provided there is food to eat, and basic necessities of life are in abundance.
SUPPORT FOR AN EGALITARIAN POSTURE
TERRIFIC HEADLINES plans to support INEC’s Voter Education campaigns dispassionately, for the electorate to be educated and allowed to make a choice. And it is the duty of each and every one of us who is desirous of seeing the evolution of a greater Nigeria before too long to promote peaceful and harmonious coexistence, as well as democratic conducts. I recall here an argument by former Governor Babatunde Fashola, SAN, at an inter-faith conference that: ”Religion and good governance are two different things, and democratic dividends should have no religious colouration, because anybody could emerge as governor irrespective of faith. Fashola continued: “Will it give one religion roads that other faiths cannot use? Will it give them schools that children from other faiths cannot attend or will it bring water that only one faith can drink? “Will it begin to draw a very clear line between poverty and the faith? Does hunger know your faith? “What are the rules in religious debate? Who is going to be the umpire? I know that there are many people for whom spirituality is a calling; I also know that for some, it’s a business. “For a long time, the state and religion have been one, but over time, we have also tried to separate religion from the state, but it has not been a successful venture. “I am not sure that clear separation will happen, and I’m not even sure what clear separation will deliver.’’
To our youths pressing for generational shifts, I offer three sayings of the wise. First by Henry Longfellow; who asserted that: ‘’The heights by great men reached and kept, were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling upward in the night.’’ Next by Obafemi Awolowo in his book: ‘My Early Life’ (1968) “While many men in power and public office are busy carousing in the midst of women of easy virtue and men of low morals, I, as a few others like me, I am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep’’ Finally, Tommy Hilfiger once stated that: “The road to success is not easy to navigate, but with hard work, drive and passion, it’s possible to achieve the American dream.”
May God help Nigeria and Nigerians.