Lagos State Governor Akinwumi Ambode has urged leaders to embrace the ideals and principles of the former Premier of defunct Western Region, the late Awo.
Ambode spoke yesterday at the unveiling of a statue of the sage in Ikeja, the state capital.
The event was attended by prominent members of the Awolowo clan, including wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu and eminent politicians.
Ambode said Awolowo’s legacies and achievements have endured and remained a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership till date.
He said: “Awolowo was a symbol for the aspiration of Western Nigeria. His achievements remain indelible across the nation. The vision of new generation leaders, like us, is to consciously rise up to his ideals and principles.”
Ambode said the need to sustain the Awolowo ideal prompted Lagos to join hands with five other Southwest states in Oodua Investment conglomerate to champion the political and economic integration of Western Nigeria.
The governor recalled Awolowo’s commitment to the growth and development of Nigeria, especially during the post-Independence era, adding that he was a shining light among his contemporaries.
He said the late sage also displayed an incredible ability to use leadership as a tool for the advancement of the welfare of the people.
“In a few days, it will be 57 years since our nation attained Independence. The story of the struggle that led to that momentous occasion on October 1, 1960, will not be complete without mentioning the late Pa Obafemi Awolowo. He was a leading voice among eminent nationalists of his time; he successfully negotiated our nation’s liberation from the colonial masters.
“Thirty years after his death, his 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. His legacies and landmark achievements, particularly in the Western Region – including Lagos colony – have endured and they remain a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership in the country…”
The governor said Lagos was in sync with the position of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on restructuring, which seeks to amend the Constitution aimed at devolving powers to states and local governments to entrench true federalism.
He noted that the unveiling of the statue is in recognition of legacies the Awolowo dynasty is enviably known for.
Ambode said: “Hence, this monument is erected by the Lagos State government to celebrate the legendary achievements and contributions of an icon in political leadership, Chief Obafemi 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. May the labour of our heroes past never be in vain.”
Dr Awolowo-Dosumu, who spoke on behalf of the family, said her late father was able to utilise taxes to drive most of his people-oriented policies.
She said those who once criticised his tax drive later rallied round him and adopted same for economic growth.
Dr Awolowo-Dosunmu recalled that over the years, her late father’s success story became a template for any government desirous of making meaningful impact in the lives of the citizenry.
“What the governor is doing today is impressive. I stay in Ogun State but I visit Lagos occasionally. Each time I come, I marvel at the level of progress and development taking place in this state, which says a lot about the governor.”