It gives me great pleasure to chair this auspicious event which is the 2 nd Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership Award and Ceremony. The distinguished profile of the audience here today is a testimony to the enduring legacy of one of Nigeria's foremost nationalists and elder statesmen, Chief Obafemi Awolowo.
As you will no doubt recall, Chief Awolowo was both a man of ideas, having written, as one scholar has reminded us, more books than most of Professors of Political science; as well as a man of landmark achievements in the area of governance. Leadership is about vision and articulating big dreams while management is the ability to implement visionary goals and policies. Chief Awolowo possessed the rare fortune of combining both the capacity to set visionary goals as well as follow through ability to implement the goals. That his legacy continues to reverberate almost 30 years after his death is an index of the range and depth of his governance interventions.
It is also a delight that the intellectual and philosophical dimensions of his work have been kept alive by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation under the imprimatur and impressive watch of the sage's daughter, Ambassador (Dr) Tokunbo Awolowo Dosumu, who is without doubt a chip of the old bloc. It is imperative to remark in this connection that the work of the foundation and the renewal of the Awo legacy would have been extremely difficult without the inspiration and motherly acumen provided by the matriarch of the Yoruba Nation, Mama H. I. D. Awolowo, described famously by the late sage as ‘my jewel of inestimable value'.
As we already know, today's award is being made to a statesman of global forte, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former president of South Africa. I do not wish to preempt the citation of Mr. Thabo Mbeki, the second president of post-Apartheid South Africa. But it is pertinent to mention that Mbeki ably stepped into the larger than the life shoes of that preeminent and iconic statesman, Mr. Nelson Mandela. Daunting as that assignment was, it is on record that Mbeki most impressively carried it out and in some ways creatively extended the legacy of which he and Mandela were a part. As will be made clear in the goodwill speeches to be read here today, Mbeki is not a stranger to Nigeria; and this distinguished award to an illustrious son of Africa represents an ecstatic home coming and reunion. Impetus, I believe will be given to Nigeria-South Africa relations by today's event and the bonding of the people of the two giants of Africa.
I do not intend to bore you with a long speech. It remains therefore for me to thank the organizers of this event, the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, for inviting me to chair this occasion and to wish everyone in this hall, not least those who have travelled from far and wide an enjoyed session and a pleasant safe journey back to their destinations.
I thank you all for listening.