Obafemi Awolowo, fully Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, commonly known as Awo

Awolowo, fully Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, commonly known as Awo

Nigerian Nationalist, Federalist and Social Democratic Statesman, Trade Unionist, Attorney and Author, Premier of Western Nigeria

Author Quotes

Africa has produced more self-seeking leaders than public-spirited ones. But, thank goodness, the masses of the people remain largely unspoilt and uncorrupted, and are developing fast the technique of differentiating gold from lead and real metal from dross. What is more, they have begun to show their preparedness for very rough action against any political leader who may be caught in the game of public trickery and fraud.

In the long run, all human problems do settle themselves aright, whatever anyone or group of people may do. This is so, because all those who do wrong and injustice, are merely setting themselves against the powerful tide of Nature's or, if you like, History's dialectical progression. Temporarily, this tide can be held back; but certainly, not permanently.

Some knowledgeable persons have likened an attack on the East to Lincoln's war against the southern states in America. Two vital factors distinguish Lincoln's campaign from the one now being contemplated in Nigeria. The first is that the American civil war was aimed at the abolition of slavery - that is the liberation of millions of Negroes who were then still being used as chattels and worse than domestic animals. The second factor is that Lincoln and others in the northern states were English-speaking people waging a war of good conscience and humanity against their fellow nationals who were also English speaking. A war against the East in which Northern soldiers are predominant, will only unite the Easterners or the Ibos against their attackers, strengthen them in their belief that they are not wanted by the majority of their fellow-Nigerians, and finally push them out of the Federation.

We have in our midst about 1,000 rich Nigerians who in the past cleverly rigged the sources of the wealth of our nation, and we are now tactically poised to oligopolise all the munificent avenues of riches that may supervene now and in the future. The rich, and the highly-placed in business, public life, and government, are running a dreadful risk in their callous neglect of the poor and down-trodden.

All is fair in war, and starvation is one of the weapons of war. I don't see why we should feed our enemies fat in order for them to fight harder.

In the presence of light, darkness cannot exist; nor can the night of misery and suffering... The compelling urge to be a harbinger of light over Nigeria has been my one consuming passion for more than four decades now ... My yearnings for the descent of light upon Nigeria became so deep that they were soon transformed into an irrepressible call to duty.

The aim of a leader should be the welfare of the people whom he leads. I have used 'welfare' to denote the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the people. With this aim fixed unflinchingly and unchangeably before my eyes I consider it my duty to Yoruba people in particular and to Nigerians in general, to place four imperatives before you this morning. Two of them are categorical and two are conditional. Only a peaceful solution must be found to arrest the present worsening stalemate and restore normalcy. The Eastern Region must be encouraged to remain part of the Federation. If the Eastern Region is allowed by acts of omission or commission to secede from or opt out of Nigeria, then the Western Region and Lagos must also stay out of the Federation. The people of Western Nigeria and Lagos should participate in the ad hoc committee or any similar body only on the basis of absolute equality with the other regions of the Federation.

When all the talents in society are not fully developed, it is not the individuals that are adversely affected alone who suffer; the society as a whole suffers as well. Now, granting that every Nigerian is given an opportunity to develop his talents, it is imperative that he should also be given an opportunity to employ these developed talents. Full development of man and his full employment are not only social imperatives, but also inseparably inter-connected and complementary.

Any system of education which does not help a man to have a healthy and sound body and alert brain, and balanced and disciplined instinctive urges, is both misconceived and dangerous.

Instead of bowing down or condescending to Northerners' wishes, we better endure till death.

The Blackman shall be absolute and undisputed master in his own home, and shall enjoy unaffected and un-patronizing equality with the other races of the world.

Whether we are conscious of or acknowledge it or not, the fact remains stubborn and indestructible that poverty, disease, social unrest, and instability, and all kinds of international conflicts, have their origins in the minds of men ... It is only when the minds of men have been properly and rigorously cultivated and garnished, that they can be safely entrusted with public affairs with a certainty and assuredness that they will make the best of their unique opportunity and assignment.

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Conference in London in 1958, I had an overpowering feeling of foreboding ... that something untoward was going to happen to Nigeria. That it would happen, I felt sure; but when it would happen, I had no inkling ... At first, I felt there was nothing I could do about it. But later on, I thought I might do something about it.

It appears to me that the causes of the last Civil War lie embedded in the nether realms of such degrading and depraving evils as unemployment; mass ignorance; endemic and debilitating diseases; low productivity; abuse and misuse of power, bribery and corruption; favoritism and nepotism; ethnocentricity and tribalism; much poverty and much discontent.

The creation of the Mid- West State will be the beginning of a journey which may be short or long but which will irresistibly bring Nigeria to the goal of true federalism and more States, and of individual freedom and happiness for all our people.

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, am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep.

Every time we talk about self-government, the British turn around and say if we depart from your country, there will be civil strife, there will be war ... But even under their rule, how many of our sons who were taken to Burma, were decimated in a war, the beginning of which we do not know, the cause of which we do not know, and in the declaring of which we took no art or part. I challenge any Briton today to tell me whether the number of our people destroyed in their wars, are as many as those who had died in our so-called inter-tribal wars. .

It is incontestable that the British not only made Nigeria, but also hand it to us whole on their surrender of power. But the Nigeria, which they handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration. It is up to contemporary Nigerian leaders to neutralize these forces, preserve the Nigerian inheritance, and make all our people free, forward-looking and prosperous.

The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and there is radiance in the darkness, if we could but see. To be able to see this radiance, all you need to do is to cultivate the courage to look, and the insight to apprehend the light which shines, at all times and in all places, for those who make Truth the object of their daily pursuit.

You can unite but can never succeed in unifying peoples whom language has set distinctly apart from one another; the more educated a linguistic. group becomes, the stronger it waxes in its bids for political self-determination and autonomy, unless it happens to be the dominant group.

Fortified with the justness of the cause we espouse in this crisis, and trusting in the never- failing providence of God, 1 can say with confidence that there, where my blood is shed, no grass will grow again, and no life is likely to flourish again. Undoubtedly, lives might be lost if the ugly crisis continues for long. But God, who sees our hearts and knows why we have refused to bow to blind tyranny, and are, as a result, in this politically helpless plight, will protect me and my colleagues from any harm.

It is safer and wiser to cure unhealthy rivalry than to suppress it.

The seed for a future minority problem in the North has been sown by the Government. It will grow with growing political consciousness on the part of those who settle permanently in the North.

He needs a healthy body which can be reared only on good food, adequate shelter, decent clothing, a reasonable measure of comfort and luxury, and a wholesome environment. He needs a sound and cultivated mind which is free to know and meditate upon the things of his choice. He has natural, conventional and legal rights which must be protected and upheld, with impartiality and inflexible justice by government and the society in which he lives.

It is, I think, enough for me to say that life itself is, from the cradle to the grave, a series of unbroken risks. I make no boast about this, but those who know me intimately will testify to the fact that I have never, at any time, shrunk from taking my full share of the risks which life, with its unending opportunities and vicissitudes, offers.

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Awolowo, fully Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo, commonly known as Awo
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Nigerian Nationalist, Federalist and Social Democratic Statesman, Trade Unionist, Attorney and Author, Premier of Western Nigeria