Monday, 28 May 2012 00:00
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Bode George: It is an insult to compare Tinubu with Awolowo

FORMER Deputy National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Chief Olabode George, has told former governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, to forget the idea of becoming Yoruba leader.

George, the Atona Oodua of Yorubaland, said it was an insult for Tinubu, the National Leader of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN), to compare himself with the late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

He said: “It is vain and impossible to attempt to recreate Awolowo. Only Awolowo can be Awolowo”.

George spoke in Lagos while hosting some members of the PDP in the South-West, including Major-General Tajudeen Olanrewaju (rtd), Ms Evelyn Rewane, Mr. Tunde Savage, Mr. Kamal Giwa and others.

He was conferred with the titles of Iginla Oodua and Agbaakin Oodua.
George also described ACN governors as 'fake Awoists' who are only after their selfish interests.

On the sack of  778 doctors by the Lagos State Government, he said it was a callous and inhuman act.

His speech at the event, entitled: “Awolowo: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” reads: “I must concede a certain delight in this wonderful opportunity to share my modest thoughts with you about the present debate on the context and the content of the nature of the Yoruba nation within the large expanse of the Nigerian Union. I do not join this debate as one constrained and limited by the narrow fixities of ethnic nationalism. No. I am not prompted nor detained by the confining parochialism of tribal identification.

“Yes, I am a proud Nigerian patriot who cherish the strength of our Union that stretches from the sea to the desert. I am a patriot who appreciate and relish the profound richness of our diversity. Yes, I am a Nigerian patriot who has benefitted immensely from the best leadership training the nation has to offer. And I am also a patriot who has made sacrifices and contributions to the growth and advancement of our great nation.

“Therefore,  my purpose and resolve today is to shine some light upon some disturbing challenges within the narrow space of the Yoruba nation. The wider expanse of my Nigerian nationalism is never eroded, it remains unassailable. I remain a patriot.

“But the contentious issue of the appropriate leadership within the Yoruba ethnic space is ultimately of paramount importance as we consider the power structure, influence and relevance within the larger Nigerian identity. The Yoruba cannot afford to put a third rate team as their representatives and leaders in the greater assembly of the Nigerian Union.

“It is in this regard that my thematic focus in this forum is to give clarity and illumination to the deliberate muddle, distortions and outright fraud currently being orchestrated by the pretenses of crude charlatans who even now parade themselves in the fake and fraudulent garb of the immortal sage, Papa Jeremiah Adeniyi Obafemi Awolowo.

“What an infamy! What a desecration of an iconic national emblem!  What a mockery of our collective values! What treachery and insult from insignificant actors of unknown and unfathomable origins! What a degradation of history and our collective memory!
“Let it be known here and now that the greatness of Awolowo and the eternal attractiveness of his signification do not reside in the vain, empty posturing of the roundness of a fez cap. No. The greatness of the sage from Ikenne is neither in the exuberant largeness of the flowing Babaringa nor in the puerile theatrics of the oval imitation of a Gandhian eye glasses. 

“Like the immortal Mahatma Gandhi, the eternal greatness of Chief Obafemi Awolowo rises far beyond the puffery foolishness of personal accoutrements. The enduring giantism of his eminence burnishes in the depth of his ideas, in the profundity of his thoughts, in the relentless crusade of his sacrifice, in the vigorous articulations of his vision, in the logic and rationale of his enterprise, in the observable largeness of his attainments.

“The illustrious illuminations of Obafemi Awolowo is far greater than the petty, bland comprehensions of vagrant actors presently poorly imitating the eternal selflessness of a great man. It is vain and impossible to attempt to recreate Awolowo. Only Awolowo can be Awolowo!

Indeed, the Awolowo leadership did not spring from a conscious attempt to etch himself in historical relevance. The unique heroic assertiveness of his leadership was borne upon a natural prompting. His leadership was stripped of artificial inclination. Awolowo was true to himself and his people.

And while the Yoruba political space was his primary spring-board, the larger Nigerian Union was his constant emblem and aspirational goal. The Nigerian firmament was Awolowo’s ultimate destination. It was here he excelled the most as a visionary and principled advocate of the people.

“Awolowo was self-denying, absolutely focused in the empowering of the disadvantaged, the poor and the needy. A man of ceaseless entrepreneurial grace, the sage was equally a promoter of commerce, a fervent instigator of venture – capitalism moderated by welfarist underpinnings.

A man of observable principled moderation in all his endeavours, Awolowo was uncomfortable with sybaritic riches. He shunned the excesses of the affluent society, condemned the undisciplined, reckless display of monetary acquisitions. The Ikenne sage avoided the crass fatuity of the High-Society where the idiotic acquisitions of tinsels, money and gold defined their summative existence.

Like Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Gandhi, Macaulay and Mandela, Awolowo thrived and excelled most significantly in the company of great men of ideas. His scholarship was vast, deep with effortless accommodating liberalism.

“Awolowo did not pretend absolute grasp of everything. His leadership worked because he was willing to listen. He was inclined to absorb and accommodate the articulations of other people. While he truly disdained the vacuity of thought, he was forever embracing new truths, new wisdom and new knowledge.

“He challenged others to break new grounds, to provoke the boundary of new discovery, to graduate far beyond the sheepish acknowledgement of the obvious and pry nuggets of wisdom from what is not observable to others.

“Indeed, there is an awe inspiring giantism about the vast, incredible achievements of Awolowo. There is the almost mythic unbelievability in the stunning successes that Awolowo achieved as Premier of the Western Region. What may now appear to the younger generation as some fabled, incredible dramatic tales were in truth the veritable legacies of the Nigerian Icon.

“From the simplest template of infrastructure to the fields of Agriculture, Technology, Administration, Industry, Housing, Education, Environment and all ancillary indices of governmental presence and responsibilities, Awolowo demonstrated a sweeping genius of administrative responsiveness and aptitudinal largeness.

“There was a certain breathlessness and incredible hurry in the genius of Awolowo. But  there was depth and believability in the essence of the great man. First, his administrative acumen was unmatchable. As the first Premier of the Western Region, he assembled a glittering array of first class talents, men of deep, thoughtful, inquisitive intellectual resonance.

The rare genius of Awolowo brought together a fantastic galaxy of intellectual giants from all fields of human endeavours. It is a roll call of immortals: Witness: Simeon Adebo, Osuntokun, Lanlehin, Akinto,a, Ogedengbe, Akpata, Oba Akran, Gbadamosi, Okunowo, the Rewanes, Onasanya, Adebanjo, Olaniwun Ajayi, Oredein and various others.

“These were the legendary symbols who held the rudder of governance from the riveting hills of Agodi to the most distant hamlet of the Delta.  These were the brilliant cadre who steered the ship of state from the far reaching outpost of Benin to the boundaries of Fadeyi in old Lagos.

“These were the talents who built bridges, roads, schools, industries, corporations housing estate in dizzying array. From the first Television Station in Africa (WNBC) to a modern soccer stadium, from the first modern High-Rise building to a world class University, Housing Estate, the Cocoa Pyramids, the vast, endless agricultural fields - the Awolowo genius swept across the Western Landscape of the Nigerian Union in startling, spectacular obviousness.

“Here, his image, character and attainments invariably became indices of visionary will and heroic assertiveness. Here, Awolowo grew beyond a myth and fable and transform into a dazzling concreteness. He can never be forgotten. Pray, who can forget Wema Board, the Cocoa Pyramids, the Premier Hotel, the Western House, the various Housing Estates from Oluyole in Ibadan to Ikeja GRA and various other incredible achievements?
“Alas, it is in this eclecticism of thought, it is in this rich pot pourri of ideas and articulations that the inimitable Awolowo emerges in magnificent shepherding and leadership, seeing far ahead of others, mastering the vast challenges of leadership because of his own instinctive willingness to listen and learn from others.

“If Awolowo is thus defined largely in the summative portrait of an iconic progressive with exuberant preparedness to give others a hearing, to encourage others to advance the boundary of enlightenment, of what similarities or sameness can  the present actors, who crudely and falsely proclaim the banner of Awoism, identify themselves with the great Awo?

“Let us look at their pedigree, their preachment and the  concrete realities of their actions. From Lagos to the rocky hills of Ekiti, the loud and riotous characters who volubly proclaim discipleship of Awolowo are without exception perennial time-servers who have no firm, principled allegiance to anything of value or anything of sacred worth.

“From their leader, Bola Tinubu, to their councillors and governors who owe their mandates to a purchased and openly corrupt and compromised electoral process, these fake and fraudulent Awoists are virtually indifferent to the yearnings and aspirations of the people. Witness what they are doing to Lagos Doctors! Here, they have abandoned the sick, the infirm, the stricken with cruel indifference. While Fashola has hurried his father to the United States for medical care, he has dumped ailing Lagosians in suffering and misery. He simply doesn’t care! What a man! What a party! What a mockery of Awoism!

“Collectively, these would be Awoists are mostly prompted by greed and inordinate focus on reckless personal acquisitions. They treat the people with total disdain and contempt. Their visions are limited to the content of their pockets. Their sole motivation is deceit and personal advantages.

“The fake and fraudulent Awoists have been sustained on this crooked road by a combination of feverish, unrelenting propaganda, the virtual corruption of everything and everyone willing to mortgage his conscience, the liberal dispensing of a vast, limitless war chest, the unutterable compromise of some of our friends in the media and various sectors of the public life.

“With these insensible and primitive acquisitions ranging from illegal monthly deductions of N2 billion by Alpha Beta from the coffers of Lagos State Government to the brazen seizing of mind-boggling state properties, the purchases of hotels, media houses, airlines and perhaps the sky and the air we breathe – why won’t Tinubu and his rejected co-travelers seek to confer respectability on themselves by attempting to mock the ideals and the vision of the great Awo!

“Well, they may try! But we reject them outright. We the people reject them. From the sacred provenance and defining emblem of Lagos at Oju –Olobun to the ancestral unifying Source of the Yoruba heritage in Ife-Odua – we the people reject them!
“The dark, crass, mercenary ruffianism of Bola Tinubu is ages apart from the pristine, formidable purity of Awoism. One is the corrupting ally of the devil and darkness. The other is the summation of the kind, angelic innocence of the light.

“It is a mockery of all that is just and fair for these raving charlatans to preach to all of us about the virtues and advantages of the integration of the Yoruba political and economic space. They don’t know what they are talking about. In its most primary and logical sense, the integration of the South-West will presuppose some kind of sameness in the present level of economic development and in the characterisation of the content and character of each state. You can only integrate and weave together an economic union where there is some evenness in growth, where there is some shared distributive advantages for mutual benefits.

“There must be some inherent advantages in the simplest form of cohabitation. A necessary interactive unity must intimate some equitable distributive dividends among the participating actors. Simply put, you must have what I want and I must have what you want before our relationship can be amicable and balanced. Anything else imply dislocations, imbalance and inherent distortions that will provoke collapse and ruin.

“But our fake Awoists are not interested in the niceties of enlightened economics. Their hasty canvassing for integration of the South-West is simply about enlarging their expanses of greed. Everything is about their personal survival. Everything is about themselves and their families. Their crude understanding of democracy is a government of the few for the benefit of the few.

“Surely, these are not the people that should flag the banner of the Yoruba nation. Surely, these are not the true emblems of progressive enlightened politics.

“Where Awolowo taught us the virtue of selflessness and personal sacrifices, the fraudulent Awoists parade a benighted vision of selfish instinctiveness. Awolowo embraced the purity of liberal accommodation, the gestural respect for the contributions of others, the failed Awoists are detained by the sheer narrow disdain for the values and the worth of other human beings.

“Where Awolowo loomed in the sweeping depths of thoughtful idealism, where Awolowo burnished in the principled sincerity of a progressive vision-Tinubu and his failed acolytes are frozen in shallow, untenable adumbrations. Their logic is skewed, distorted, without defining anchor, without stabilizing verities.

“Finally, it is ludicrous and absurd to put Bola Tinubu or any of his co-travelers in the revered image and noble giantism of Awolowo. We know the pedigree of Awolowo. We know the fountain of his heritage. His lineage and ancestry are unhidden, well known to all. But alas there is ambiguity and sheer falsehood about the ancestry and even the immediate parentage of the man who in blind arrogance and deranged delusion wants to wear the toga of a new Awo. He should perish the thought.

“Obafemi Awolowo represents the paramount rectifying largeness of the Nigerian ideal. In the sagacity of his wisdom, in the furthest depths of his visionary grandeur, in the genuine nobility of his sacrifice, in the sweep and logic of his truth, in the severity and pains of his challenges- Awolowo was a true avatar of statesmanship largeness. Twenty- five years after his death, his attainments are yet to be matched. His devotions to his tribe and the larger Nigerian nation are yet unsurpassed. He was a true federalist without rancor. He was a patriot and a mighty man of integrity without blemish.

“Awolowo was our enduring past. He represents our natural yearning for the rectifying immediacy of the wrongs of the present. And he is the defining summative destination of our tomorrow. You cannot say the same for the primitive charlatans now stampeding upon our political space. May God help us all”.

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