Thursday, 4 July 2013

Speech: The Place Of The Yoruba In Nigeria Politics And Development

Guests at the lecture

(Being text of Lecture Delivered by Professor W. Alade Fawole Of The Department Of International Relations Of Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife  at the Abraham Adesanya Memorial Lecture under the auspices of the National Association of Ogun State Students, University of Lagos Chapter, held at the Afe Babalola Auditorium, University of Lagos, Akoka, Tuesday 2nd July, 2012).

Preamble And Introduction:
It is indeed a great honour and privilege for me to be invited to deliver this lecture in honour and memory of late Senator Abraham Adesanya, but more affectionately known and addressed as Pa Abraham Adesanya, who was without doubt one of the most distinguished, formidable and illustrious Yoruba sons and leaders. It is also befitting that the National Association Ogun State Students, University of Lagos Chapter has in all wisdom deemed it fit to honour this illustrious patriot, peerless politician, committed democrat, and exemplary Yoruba leader with a memorial lecture, which I believe should be an annual event. This is an endeavour that I believe all true Yoruba patriots should encourage and support, for we must not forget the phenomenal sacrifices of the likes of Pa Abraham Adesanya for the enthronement and sustenance of democracy in our country, and also for proudly holding the flag of Yoruba nationalism within the broader context of the federation of Nigeria very high, in spite and in the face of all odds, and even at considerable risks to personal and family safety. Remembering, acknowledging and honouring the likes of Pa Adesanya is even more imperative especially in this day and age and against the prevailing national practice of honouring and celebrating fake heroes, political opportunists, buccaneers and carpetbaggers.

I know that it is not my place on this occasion to introduce Pa Abraham Adesanya, for right inside this very auditorium are seated some of the intrepid Yoruba and other Nigerian patriots, politicians and faithful Afenifere partisans who served and marched together in the trenches with him. However, this lecture will not be complete, and will probably be a disservice to the memory of this great man, if I do not say a word about him. For the benefit of the younger generation, especially the student audience here, we must make it known that Pa Adesanya was a man of many parts and different roles. He was so many things rolled into one: brilliant lawyer, consummate politician, irrepressible Afenifere partisan and a dynamic Yoruba Leader, and Nigerian patriot par excellence!

Like the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Pa Abraham Adesanya was one of those Nigerian patriots who did not believe that one had to deny one’s primordial origin in order to appear to be a good Nigerian. Like Awolowo, he believed that a Yoruba man or woman cannot be a good Nigerian unless he/she is a good Yoruba first! There is no contradiction in this as far as he was concerned. It is therefore people like him that help the vast majority of Yoruba to keep their pride in the Yoruba nation without allowing it to contradict or subvert their Nigerian-ness. In all his several endeavours and engagements, his life was defined by integrity, honour, the Omoluabi concept, selflessness, unwavering commitment to principles, loyalty to the people and their cause, and commitment to ensuring the greatest happiness for the greatest number of people of Nigeria.

The fact that he became the acknowledged Leader of the Yoruba was a testament to his commitment to the advancement of the Yoruba nation and cause. Even when others cynically abandoned the struggle for the enthronement of democracy, and scores were forced to flee abroad for safety, Pa Abraham Adesanya stayed behind in Nigeria, and led Nigerians in the pro-democracy struggle from the trenches, and at great personal costs. He was deputy leader of the National Democratic Coalition (NADECO), the pro-democracy organization which became a thorn in the flesh of General Sani Abacha’s dictatorship. For his temerity and activism, he was targeted for callous execution by General Sani Abacha’s murder squads. Only God saved him from what could have been a most gruesome, officially sanctioned, assassination when the car in which he was riding was mercilessly sprayed with bullets in broad daylight on the streets of Lagos in January 1997. Mercifully, he survived that murderous encounter and outlived the dictator to supervise the eventual enthronement of democracy in 1999.

This generation of Nigerians therefore owe an immense debt of gratitude to Pa Adesanya for the enthronement of the democracy which we enjoy today, which its operators unfortunately are terribly mismanaging. His death in 2008 at the age of 85 years has obviously left a gaping hole in Yoruba leadership because it robbed this highly politically sophisticated nationality of the last of its intrepid moral gatekeepers. He was like the last of titans, and his noble place in the pantheon of Yoruba exemplars like Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Michael Adekunle Ajasin and others of that noble and irreplaceable genre is readily assured.

It is perhaps in the area of politics that many may remember him the most. He was a member of the Action Group (AG) under the leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo in the First Republic, a foundation member of the Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) under the same Awolowo during the Second Republic, and one of the leading lights of the Alliance for Democracy (AD) at the start of the Fourth Republic, the political party that won most of the elections in all the Southwest states in 1999. He was noted for strict adherence to the progressive ideology, his loyalty to the leader, and dogged commitment to ensuring the welfare and wellbeing of the people, and his fearless activism which shorn brightly through these myriad political engagements. He was elected to the Nigerian Senate during the Second Republic and served with distinction in that upper legislative chamber alongside fellow Yoruba greats like Chief Jonathan Odebiyi, Professor David Oke, Chief Ayo Fasanmi, Chief Cornelius Adebayo, Professor Banji Akintoye, to mention a few.

It is therefore appropriate that we must dissect and critically interrogate the role and contributions of the Yoruba to the overall development of the Nigerian nation. For the purpose of setting the records straight, I have deliberately exercised the editorial discretion of broadening the scope of the topic that was originally assigned to me by the organizers to take into consideration the overall development and not just limit it narrowly to politics alone. Yoruba have undoubtedly made their marks, and are still making unparalleled contributions to the development of Nigeria not only in politics, but in diverse areas such as in the business and the private sector, public service, the military and security services, the mass media, education, the academia, the entertainment industry, the professions (law, accounting, medicine, engineering, etc), bringing leadership, credibility, integrity, discipline, organizational savvy, and exemplary commitment to principles.

By saying all this, I am not by any means trying to insinuate that all that the Yoruba touched turned to gold, for this is not so. Within their fold have also been found the black sheep, people of questionable integrity who sold their birthrights for a mess of pottage; those who betrayed and have continued to betray their race to its sworn enemies for power and position. While we today remember Pa Abraham Adesanya with deep affection for his peerless and fearless leadership of NADECO and Afenifere in the hectic days of Abacha’s tyrannical rule and at great personal costs fighting to actualize the popular national democratic mandate given to Chief MKO Abiola on June 12, 1993, a number of Yoruba men and women also shamelessly betrayed that noble cause for sheer personal aggrandizement. We cannot forget that a prominent Yoruba indigene of Ogun State origin, Abiola’s own state, who neither contested an election nor planned a military coup, was pressed into service by military autocrats to subvert the democratic struggle by heading an illegitimate and illegal contraption called the Interim National Government which was General Babangida’s exit strategy. While Chief MKO Abiola was languishing in detention under the most horrible conditions, for no crime other than that he had won a free and fair election, a number of prominent and not-so-prominent Yoruba were also fraternizing with the traducers of the Yoruba race.

We cannot so soon forget that another Yoruba man, whom God gave the rare privilege of ruling the country on two separate occasions, as a military dictator and civilian democrat, not only presided over a thoroughly corrupt and grossly under-performing government but also attempted a cynical and egregious manipulation of the constitution and the National Assembly to secure himself an unconstitutional third term in office, against the will of Nigerians! Having made these clarifications let me now proceed to the main issue. Yoruba have unfortunately also been well represented in bank failures, business fraud, humongous public sector corruption, etc, which shows that the nationality has its own bad eggs as well.

The Yoruba In Current Nigerian Politics And Governance:
It requires a short historical journey for one to understand the contributions that Yoruba people have made to the development of the Nigerian state and nation. This is a task that cannot be fully accomplished within the space of a single public lecture such as this. However, a little trip will do just as well for today’s purpose.

The Yoruba nation had existed in a series of kingdoms and empires, and had some of the most sophisticated political organizations on the continent of Africa, long before colonial rule interrupted their development. The British colonial adventurers were able to gain access from the coast into the hinterland not just because they had the superior firepower alone but largely because the Yoruba nation that could have withstood them had exhausted and weakened itself by the series of mutually destructive intra-Yoruba wars in the 18th and 19th centuries. The implication here is that the weakness of the Yoruba nation unwittingly facilitated the entry of the British into the hinterland and the eventual cobbling together of what would later become Nigeria.

With Nigeria coming into existence via the amalgamation of the northern and southern protectorates in January 1914, the Yoruba nation became an integral unit of the new colonial compact. As the years rolled by, not only had they accepted the reality of the new country, they also made strenuous efforts towards its sustenance. The earliest political parties that were formed to press for inclusion of the people in colonial governance and administration, and later to agitate for independence for Nigeria were not only headquartered in Lagos and the Southwest but also had significant Yoruba input and leadership. It is not possible to capture fully the contributions and sacrifices that Yoruba made to nationalist activities and the struggle for Nigeria’s independence in the space of a public lecture such as this.

The earliest Nigerian nationalists of Yoruba extraction were committed patriots who envisioned a new Nigerian commonwealth that would overcome the diversity of its composition. It was in this regard that Chief Obafemi Awolowo admonished us as far back as 1947 not to rest on the assumption that Nigeria was yet a nation, for such assumption was dangerous and unhelpful. He rightly called it “a mere geographical expression” and proffered ways to move it towards real nationhood.  Because his fellow nationalists from other areas preferred to flagellate him instead of taking his advice, Nigeria’s march to nationhood was short-circuited and truncated by the opportunism of those who prefer the delusion that Nigeria is a settled matter. Is Nigeria more of a nation today than it was 66 years ago when Awolowo made that assertion? Even though the correct answer is NO, the Yoruba people can always be counted prominently in the vanguard of those advocating for a national conference to restructure the political architecture Nigeria so that a real nation can emerge from it.

Once self-rule was granted in the early 1950s, the Yoruba began to show the stuff they are made of. The government of Western Nigeria became an exemplar not just in Nigeria but on generally on the African continent, excelling in the areas of development-oriented politics, organized public administration, provision of public service, infrastructural development, education, healthcare, etc. We still recall with nostalgia the stellar accomplishments which are still being celebrated till today ---- the introduction of free education which benefited millions of people, free healthcare, provision of modern infrastructure across the entire region, setting up the best administrative system, opening up the rural areas for development, building of the 25-storey Cocoa House, Liberty Stadium, establishing the first television service in Africa, and establishing after independence the great University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), all of which today bear eloquent testimony to the great vision and foresight of these Yoruba titans.

Since Nigeria’s independence also, the epic struggle against tyranny, injustice, and oppression perpetrated by military despots and civilian autocrats is one area in which the Yoruba have remained indomitable and peerless. Pa Adesanya was emblematic of the characteristic Yoruba doggedness and fearlessness in confronting evil in all its ramifications. You will remember also the monumental struggles waged relentlessly by other Yoruba titans such as Chief Gani Fawehinmi, Dr. Beko Ransome-Kuti, Mr. Femi Falana, Dr. Frederick Fasehun, General Alani Akinrinade, Professor Wole Soyinka, Mr. Ayo Opadokun, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Chief Olu Falae, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Senator Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and others too numerous to mention. It was the preponderance and dominant influence of these indefatigable Yoruba titans that made some opportunistic, ill-informed and self-serving commentators to conclude that the struggle for the actualization of the June 12 mandate was made a Yoruba affair.

But then let us remind these narrow-minded opportunists that it was Chief Awolowo’s Unity Party of Nigeria (UPN) which sent lawyers to defend Alhaji Balarabe Musa, the PRP Governor of Kaduna State during his impeachment trial by the NPN-dominated Kaduna State House of Assembly during the Second Republic. It was also the same UPN that provided free legal assistance to Alhaji Abdurahman Shugaba Darman, the Majority Leader in the then Borno State House of Assembly when he was cruelly deported to Chad by the NPN-controlled Federal Government on the trumped up allegation that he was an alien. These two people were neither Yoruba nor even members of the UPN --- a testament to Yoruba abhorrence of evil and injustice wherever they raise their ugly heads!

The preservation and sustenance of the Nigerian state as a united and indivisible entity is another area. Let me assert very authoritatively and without any apologies that the Nigerian state remains united today because of the principled stand, steadfastness and immense sacrifices of Yoruba to retain Nigeria as a single country. The country could have dissolved and vanished from the world map if not for the principled objection of the Yoruba to its dismemberment when Biafra seceded in 1967. I am always amused when some of those who did their level best to dismember the country are today being celebrated as nationalists while the authentic heroes of Nigeria’s existence and survival are castigated and denigrated by ill-informed commentators. Nigeria would have ceased to exist if the Yoruba had stupidly emulated the Biafran adventurism. Let us also not forget that had Col. Adekunle Fajuyi, Military Governor of Western Region, not agreed to die alongside his guest and Supreme Commander, Major-General Aguiyi-Ironsi, Nigeria’s history could have taken a different turn. But again, in the ensuing bloody civil war that was fought ‘to keep Nigeria one’, Yoruba military officers, soldiers and civilians also made gargantuan sacrifices in blood and guts!

Contemporary Yoruba Political Situation In Nigeria:
It is a matter for grave concern that, having done all that and more, the position of the Yoruba nation within the Nigerian commonwealth remains the most precarious, pathetic, unenviable, if not lamentable, over fifty years after independence. It is equally profoundly ironic that the Yoruba nation that was in the forefront of the struggle to liberate Nigeria from colonial domination, and a model of post-independence progress and development, could so suddenly become deprived of good and accountable political leadership such that its position within both its own domain in Western Nigeria and the larger Nigerian society is deplorable. What was it that went wrong, and at what point did the people make the wrong turn? Is it ever possible to trace the steps back to the glorious days of yore when the peerless Yoruba people were respected, envied and sometimes feared, even by murderous dictators? Was it not the temerity of such intrepid Yoruba leaders like Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Abraham Adesanya and their NADECO compatriots that made Abacha tremble? Why have we not reproduced such committed men of uncommon boldness and leadership qualities? These questions beg for answers that cannot be provided in a single lecture.

Travel down memory lane just a little and we will discover that Chief Obafemi Awolowo, the sage for all times, was indisputably a class act, an indomitable political figure, a highly cerebral thinker and philosopher, a peerless statesman of rare genius, a towering giant who was indubitably a moral leader well ahead of his generation, was the first to be acknowledged as the leader of the Yoruba. He was neither anointed by any previous leader nor was he popularly elected through the ballot-box to be leader of the race. Instead, his leadership evolved over time; it came by hard work, remarkable self-discipline, and commitment to the interest of the Yoruba race, as well as consistent and unwavering advocacy and defence of the Yoruba interest, without necessarily compromising the larger interest of the Nigerian commonwealth. It was a befitting testament to a lifetime of dogged commitment to and struggle for the general uplift of the Yoruba nation. He was surrounded and assisted by a coterie great men and women of similar commitment to excellence such that he did not have to stand alone. Our dear Pa Abraham Adesanya was one of them!

As a result of his sophisticated brand of politics and leadership, the Yoruba nation became the veritable reference point for ethno-national harmony and progress in post-colonial Nigeria, an enviable testament to the dictum that it is impossible to be a good Nigerian without being a good member of your ethnic group first. And before this notion is misconstrued by those who erroneously think that being a good Nigerian implies total repudiation of their ethnic identity, let me remind us that the Nigerian commonwealth that we love so dearly is really an artificial contraption, a contemporary leviathan made up of largely unintegrated ethno-national groups and cobbled together by colonial fiat. Even after nearly a century of living together as one country and 53 years of independence, we still have more things that divide than unite us, no matter our often facile pretence to national unity.

Don’t get me wrong, Nigeria is our country, but we are still inwardly more conscious of the primordial identities (which are more real and durable) than our artificial national consciousness. Look at it very critically, and you will discover that Nigerians readily retreat into their ethnic laagers at the slightest sign or appearance of any unfavourable national situation. They find solace, safety, acceptance and psychological comfort among their ethnic kinsfolk than they can ever hope for from other ‘fellow Nigerians’ of a different ethnic stock. Identity crisis is a general problem plaguing all African countries, thanks to the artificiality of the state that colonialism bequeathed to all of us.

Whilst Awolowo’s contemporaries and able lieutenants like the late Michael Adekunle Ajasin, Emmanuel Alayande, Anthony Enahoro, Abraham Adesanya and a few others were distinguished by their sharp intellect and perceptive minds, forthrightness and Spartan discipline, the next layer of younger and loyal followers was not quite as strong and dependable. It was therefore predictable that many of them would fail miserably as governors in the Fourth Republic and would be swiftly shoved aside in the massively rigged 2003 general election. Cast your minds back to twenty years earlier (1983) when there was a similar attempt by the NPN machine to rig the gubernatorial election in the old Ondo state. Chief Ajasin could not be rigged out because the people knew the calibre of the leader they had given their mandate to. Generals Muhammadu Buhari and Tunde Idiagbon who subverted the Second Republic later employed every evil stratagem known to them in order to discredit the old man, but they failed! Can we boast of such integrity and uprightness among today’s Yoruba politicians?

Instead of committed and principled leaders like the highly esteemed Second Republic Governors like Chief Bola Ige, Chief Bisi Onabanjo, Chief Michael Adekunle Ajasin, and Alhaji Lateef Jakande, and Parliamentarians like Senators Abraham, Jonathan Odebiyi, Ayo Fasanmi etc, we are unfortunately saddled with perfidious men and women who engage in all manner of crookedness to gain political power for self-aggrandizement. The Yoruba people were at some point compelled to endure political ‘area boys’ and inconsequential characters that were fraudulently imposed on them as leaders. This state of affairs is lamentable and unacceptable in an age when men and women of foresight the world over are leading and energising their societies to make giant strides in all areas of human endeavour. We are being reduced to the bottom of the pit by insensate characters in an era of cutting-edge technological breakthroughs and great advances in the fields of medicine and science and in good governance. In an age when nations are exploring and trying to conquer outer space for mankind, those who claim to be our own leaders are instead wallowing in mindless hedonism, lasciviousness, and merely satisfying their lust and greed at our expense.

It is obvious to me that the present crop of so-called political leaders who got the Yoruba mandate by hook or crook to govern us in this Fourth Republic lack the intellectual depth, political sagacity and the finesse that their First and Second Republic predecessors brought into politics and governance. Not only is their political performance profoundly pedestrian and disappointing, judging by the standards that Yoruba people are already used to, some of the governors also opportunistically sought unholy alliance with the enemies of the Yoruba all in the name of political mainstreaming. If only they can summon half the commonsense of their esteemed predecessors, it wouldn’t have been difficult for them to perceive that such opportunistic dalliance was bound to miscarry for the entire Yoruba people who have been made a laughing stock. They have let us down.

Indeed, this rather pathetic scenario is enough to make one to wonder what has happened to all the leaders and authentic heroes of the Yoruba race. What violence have we done to their lofty memories and illustrious legacies that we can no longer reproduce their likes? How did we become so bereft of good political leaders, dreamers and visionaries? Where have all the cerebral and articulate men and women of ideas gone? At what point did we become saddled with hedonists, philistines, area boys, looters, scoundrels, ego-maniacs, hooligans and sundry lowlifes who today parade the political terrain?

Whilst it remains incontestable that significant damage had been done to the Yoruba nation, I am nonetheless still optimistic that the situation is not totally irreversible. How to go forward from here is the issue. And the answer does not lie in the bosom of an individual; rather it is a collective responsibility of all well meaning and concerned sons and daughters to chart the way forward. I can see a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, a glimmer of hope, with one or two individuals who are currently in power and still have the vision of a great Yoruba race.

The Way Forward: The Imperative Of A Pan-Yoruba Political And Development Agenda:
The development and relevance of the Yoruba in the current Nigerian equation will not be achieved by mere wishful thinking or by dwelling on the monumental accomplishments of the past. I need to remind us that those spectacular accomplishments were products not just of a focused, visionary and development-oriented political leadership of Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his colleagues, they were also made possible because the Yoruba were found in a single region where they were demographically preponderant and thus the politically dominant nationality group in the then Western Region which was one major leg of the tripod on which Nigeria stood.

Today, the political architecture of Nigeria has changed considerably such that we now have a total of thirty-six states and a federal capital territory, most of which are largely unviable and heavily dependent on monthly federal subventions even to fulfil their most basic obligations. The same Western Region where the Action Group party of Chief Awolowo held sway politically has been fragmented into a total of eight states, namely: Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ondo, Ekiti, Edo and Delta. With the exception of a few like Lagos, Ondo and Delta, the rest are largely unviable and can barely survive without federal subvention. Aside from the balkanization, the several new entities called states are also, unlike the old Western Region which had a dominant political party, today controlled by different parties with varying roots, ideologies and loyalties (Action Congress of Nigeria in Lagos, Ogun, Oyo, Osun, Ekiti and Edo, while Ondo is under the Labour Party and Delta controlled by the Peoples Democratic Party. In any case, Edo and Delta states today belong to a different geopolitical zone. The implication of this is that the differing and often conflicting political orientations and loyalties make for the absence of common vision. What all these means is that arriving at a common purpose for the Yoruba race is infinitely more difficult today than it was fifty years ago!

Collective development of the Yoruba nation will remain a mirage and a pipe-dream unless and until there is a pan-Yoruba political and developmental agenda to which all subscribe. This is possible only through the instrumentality of visionary leadership, a leadership that can dream grand dreams of what the nation should. By that I do not mean that all the Yoruba states must be governed by a single political party. Rather, what it implies is that all the Yoruba states will need to subscribe to a common, non-partisan, pan-Yoruba development agenda which puts the development of the Yoruba nation as a priority. This was what the likes of Awolowo and others mentioned severally in the course of this lecture represented. They were philosopher-kings whose ideas and visions were boundless! And that also requires that, regardless of their differing political party affiliations, a general subscription to the development of the nationality as a categorical imperative must be accepted as an irreducible minimum requirement for the governments of the respective adjoining Yoruba states.

In doing the above, there is urgent need for policy coordination and harmonization to leverage on the unique features, comparative advantages and special competences of each of the states for the sake of collective development. Let us take infrastructural development for example. Road construction should be coordinated such that each state complements the others especially with regard to inter-state roads in a way that will make it possible to travel, say, from the extreme of Ekiti and Ondo states to Lagos hassle free, and without necessarily being bogged down on the ill-maintained federally owned Lagos-Ibadan Expressway. The development of other region-wide or intra-Yoruba natural and physical resources such as rivers, industries, agricultural endowments, etc must be coordinated for collective good.

Education as the bedrock of the development and evident sophistication of the Yoruba must be accorded due priority through the harmonization and adoption of polices and programmes that would benefit all without putting unhealthy burdens on any particular states. I am a firm believer in the notion that Nigeria can no longer develop from the centre but rather from the sub-national units. However, since the states standing by themselves are not viable enough to initiate and sustain durable individual development, only a sort of regional agenda, may be along the current geopolitical zones, would be the most viable route to follow. The Yoruba nation can lead the way in this regard, as it did in the past, but only if the political elites would put aside their partisan predilections and adopt a pan-Yoruba approach. As a firm believer in regional integration for development purposes, I would wish to see all Yoruba across party lines to buy into and make such regional development efforts feasible if they would divest themselves of crude partisanship.

For the avoidance of partisanship which may vitiate any collective developmental effort, the leading lights of the Yoruba nation will have to come together and come up with a development blueprint. I am aware that such a blueprint already exists in what is known as the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN Framework) which was developed and adopted a few years ago by the Afenifere Renewal Group. This document sets out in broad outlines the contexts for overall social, cultural, political, economic, industrial and infrastructural transformation and advancement of the Southwest, and I believe should be embraced by all. Regrettably, it has yet to receive the requisite popular acclaim among the Yoruba that would make it a living document. This is perhaps because some prefer to see it as the product of a splinter group of the main Afenifere, or even by some as an Action Congress of Nigeria document for the capture and domination of the Southwest. Progress in that regard will remain stultified for as long as we choose to look at critical issues only through the narrow binoculars of our separate groups or political parties. It therefore behoves on the current leaders of the Yoruba nation to ensure widespread public enlightenment for the acceptance and implementation of the development blueprint.

Conclusion And Appreciation:
The task of restoring the Yoruba nation to its pride of place and bring further development to it is a task for us all. Contemporary experience tells us that the task of transforming the society in a way that would produce the desired development is too vital to be entrusted to politicians or political office holders alone. All Yoruba patriots and groups in all areas of human endeavour ----- politicians, administrators, intellectuals, scholars, thinkers, businessmen and businesswomen, professionals, civil society, etc ---- must become involved. The students who form the next generation of leaders must learn and imbibe the vision and aspiration of their forebears. For them to make any meaningful impact in their own generation, they must make deliberate efforts to divest themselves of the current craze for hedonism and crass materialism that have rendered Nigeria fatally hobbled and made it a laughing-stock in the community of civilized nations. The future belongs to them. I hope that coming generations would be able to remember and celebrate them as we today celebrate the likes of Pa Abraham Adesanya.

Now that my job is done, permit me to express my deepest gratitude to the officials and members of the National Association of Ogun State Students UNILAG Chapter for giving me the privilege and opportunity to share my thoughts with you. Let me also thank, in particular, Chief (Mrs.) Dupe Adelaja, (Pa Adesanya’s daughter) who was persistent through her phone calls to make sure that I would not only come today but also be comfortably accommodated. To all the dignitaries and members of the audience, I say thank you for your attention, and God bless.

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