AWO WAS A COMMITTED FEDERALIST, SAYS DAUGHTER

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The daughter of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Dr. (Mrs.) Olatokunbo Awolowo-Dosumu, said on Friday that the late sage was committed to federalism.

Federalism refers to the mixed or compound mode of government, combining a federal government with regional governments in a single political system.

In a paper presented by Awolowo-Dosumu at a one-day colloquium on the “Life and times of late Oba Okunade Sijuwade, Olubuse II,” organised by the Institute of Cultural Studies, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State on July 29, 2016, she added that the late Ooni was committed to Awolowo’s legacy.

She also said that the objective of the Yoruba Unity Forum — an umbrella body for all socio-cultural organisations in the Yoruba nation championed by late Chief (Mrs.) H.I.D. Awolowo, late Oba Sijuwade, Bishop Bolanle Gbonigi, and others — was to harmonise and work towards the actualisation of the aspirations of the Yoruba nation within the larger context of Nigeria, regardless of partisan political affiliation.

She said, “This objective remains, I have to say however, work in progress. May I say, at this juncture, that the attainment of the noble objectives of the Yoruba nation which, by the way, redound to the best interests of all other nationalities in Nigeria, will continue to be hampered by our current regrettable lack of internal cohesion.

“Contrary to seemingly tribalist connotations, the Yoruba Agenda is not about a set of self-serving proposals that would benefit only the Yoruba nation, to the detriment of other nationalities in Nigeria.

“It is, actually, a set of recommendations that are firmly rooted in the principles of equity, justice and fair play for all Nigerians and would, ultimately, be in the best interests of all. It is a prescription for permanent unity and stability in Nigeria and is a document that is highly recommended for those who have never read it.

“For the purpose of the theme of this paper, I will consider just one. I refer to the crucial issue of fiscal federalism and the consequent need to restructure the Nigerian polity. This issue, as much as any other, lies at the very core of the legacy of Chief Obafemi Awolowo

“It is probably best, therefore, to hear directly from him on this matter. Permit me to reproduce a few of his thoughts, as follows. On his preference for federalism, he said in 1960, ‘In 1951 when the controversy on the form of Nigeria’s constitution began, I had already been for more than 18 years a convinced federalist.’

“Chief Awolowo was clearly an unrepentant federalist. He was also unrepentantly committed to a strategy for development that puts people firmly at the centre of the process.”

Awolowo-Dosumu added that “rather than remain in denial about our ethnic divergence, geographical separateness and diversity, different economic visions, divergent resources, religious differences and, above all, linguistic differences, we would do much better to acknowledge and embrace them through a truly federal constitution.”

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