‘Just as we reach back to our ancestors for our fundamental values,
so we, as guardians of that legacy, must reach ahead
to our children and their children.
And we do so with a sense of sacredness in that reaching.'

These are the words of late United States senator, Paul Tsongas and they capture, very effectively, the essence of today's gathering.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all, once again, to this annual celebration of the sage, our father and mentor, Papa Obafemi Awolowo whose life appears to have attracted, and continues to attract increasing fascination after his mortal life ended.

As the years have gone by since his transition - this is the 30th year - it appears that the demographic of devotees of his vision, leadership and administrative style is, curiously, getting younger and younger. The topic of today's lecture could, therefore, not be more apt or timely.

I must thank our Distinguished Guest Lecturer and big brother, Professor Banji Akintoye for accepting so readily to deliver this lecture. He is one of the very few people left that have personal knowledge, and learnt directly at the feet of Chief Awolowo. More importantly, he has remained faithful to, and incredibly passionate about the vision they all shared for a truly developed Nigeria, one that could proudly hold its own in the comity of nations.

I thank, most sincerely, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, Chairman of the Selection Committee of the Obafemi AwolowoPrize for Leadership. His passion, and that of his colleagues on the Committee, has been pivotal to the successes we have recorded so far. He has gone, often above and beyond the call of duty, to ensure that all goes well with our plans and projects. I pray that you will be celebrated, even more than you already are, in your lifetime.

The relationship between the chairman of today's event, General Yakubu Gowon, and Papa Awolowo is very well known. Recently, the exchange of letters between them regarding Papa's resignation from his cabinet went viral on-line. Those letters, in themselves, hold enormous lessons for aspiring, and current leaders in this country. I thank you for the constancy of your support since Papa left us, particularly to us at the Foundation. May you, also, be celebrated much more, in your lifetime.

I must not fail to thank all those who assisted us in the organisation of this event. The excitement that any event that is billed to expatiate on Chief Awolowo's life and times generates is an unending source of inspiration to us at the Foundation. It provides us the will to carry on, in spite of all odds.

My immense gratitude, of course, goes to everyone in this audience. You have taken time, on a Monday morning, to attend this event to honour Chief Awolowo. You will never know how much encouragement you have given us by this gesture. I pray that you will all be honoured, again, in your lifetime.

The Foundation has been able, over the years, to retain its uncompromising commitment to Chief Awolowo's legacy due to the unparalleled interest of people like you and the other teeming Nigerians who are unable to be here with us physically this morning. We have, as a result, been able to operate mostly on the goodwill of people who, like you, hold Chief Awolowo deep in their hearts. I refer to people who offer services to the Foundation, often at no cost at all or, at best, the barest minimum cost.

I have mentioned a few earlier, but let me acknowledge others – members of the Technical Committee of the Awolowo Prize for Leadership, and others, too numerous to mention, who offer suggestions, advice, or even run errands on behalf of the Foundation, taking as their reward the satisfaction of giving something back to a much-loved leader. My prayer to you all, young and old, is, ‘may you be celebrated in your lifetime'.

Finally, there is an almost palpable sense of excitement in this hall as we all wait, with eager anticipation, to listen to today's lecturer. And so it should be. Trust me, it promises to be a masterclass.

Inherent in any conversation about legacy, however, remains the recurrent, nagging question and challenge to us, the generations that have succeeded Chief Awolowo and his colleagues, ‘where do we intend to go from here?' This is a question that, I'm afraid, each one of us has to find an answer to, within his or her own conscience.

Permit me to end this address with a quote from Jonathan Lockwood Huie, an American motivational speaker:

‘Life is about more than today, and more than yourself.
What will your legacy be?
What will your great-grandchildren be told about you?
Creating a legacy does not have to be a burden, it can be your joy and can create your satisfaction with living each day.
What kind of world do you want to leave your great-grandchildren?
What can you do today to help create that world?'

I pray that we will all find answers to these profoundly vital questions that will glorify our Maker and justify the opportunities we have been given by Him.

I welcome you, once again, and I thank you for your attention.

Dr Olatokunbo Awolowo Dosumu
Executive Director/Founding Member
Obafemi Awolowo Foundation
March 6, 2017


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