NIGERIA : The  Way  Forward is the  first major work from the Obafemi  Awolowo Foundation – an institution  established  to immortalize the statesmanship and scholarly  legacies of one of the foremost founding  fathers of the Nigeria nation . This volume  is a compelling and invaluable  addition to the literature of national development, rendered in a style that is at once accessible and illuminating.
    The  book parades some of Nigeria’s brightest and best ,engage in the intensely demanding task of thinking through their country’s current confusion and articulating bold remedial initiatives. From Claude Ake to Isawa  Elaigwu, through pius  Okigbo and Ahmed Joda, to Sam Aluko and omafume Onoge, this compilation offers insights and interpretation that cut across diverse traditions of scholarship and public service.
    In an era suffused with profound pessimism about the viability of Africa’s only surviving  Federation, NIGERIA: The way Forward reassuringly insinuates that the Nigeria nation –building project need not be intractable. Explicating a national situation that is both  fraught and auspicious, this book may well represent the final blueprint for non- violent change in a nation  precariously poised at the brink…     


    The November Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogues are now hallowed by tradition. This second Dialogue, whose proceedings are carried in these pages, turned its searchlight on ponderous and critical issues in education with the depth and thoroughness characteristic of the sage himself.
        Following a vintage keynote presentation, all aspects of Nigeria‘s education from womb to tomb were engage with unusual candour in eight parallel sessions. This was not merely a chalk and talk enterprise, but a serious attempt by top policy makers and implementers, committed scholars and concerned consumers to identify the constraints distil ideas and reach a consensus on the imperatives.  Its fiercely independent but positive flavour makes its message clear and compelling.
          The Foundation is buoyant in the hope that the recommendations that flow from these proceeding will not only deserve early attention but also attracts urgent action.     


    Like the proverbial philosopher’s stone, the search for leadership in Nigeria has continued to prove elusive.  A country endowed with so much talent in human and material resources that boasts sub-Sahara’s only Nobel laureate in the world of learning still gropes in the dark for purposeful leadership.
          The 3rd Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogue engages this paradox with customary candour. A keynote address sets the tone. It is the followed by seven illuminating sessions on all facets of   leadership: theories and conceptions, historical perspectives, comparative analysis, sectorial and generational studies and rounds off with a ponderous communiqué addressed to the extant leadership sui generis.
       These pages demonstrate once again the paucity of ideas has never been the root cause of Nigeria’s leadership problem. It is compulsory reading for all those who are genuinely concerned with the future of Africa’s largest nation.       


    Both in their thematic import and timing, the fourth  Obafemi  Awolowo  Foundation’s Dialogue and the ensuing  publication  qualify as projects of  unusual prescience – very much like many of the sage’s  own  life-time policy  interventions .
        Conceptualized  before the Ogoni  hangings  but coming right in the midst of the national crisis and international outcry occasioned by that unfortunate event, the Dialogue properly situates the paucity of  democracy and the  rule of law in Nigeria as aspects of the continuing crisis of the state  formation in post- colonial  Africa.
         Agenda – setting in its diagnosis and prognosis, this volume surely rivals the Foundation’s maiden publication, effort in the application of balanced intellect to national problem -solving.        


    Today the Nigerian youth, as indeed youth everywhere, stands at a critical intersection of many of society’s problems. It could even be safely argued that a resolution of the youth problematique is a sine qua non for confronting the larger social crises.
    The Fifth Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogue has targeted engagingly on youth agenda in its widest sense – historical appraisal, globalisation of youth culture, uses and abuses of youth, his responses to social crises and preparation for future challenges.
    The keynote was as stimulating as the sixth plenary sessions were illuminating. The emphasis all through this exercise was ‘youth on youth’. Their agenda poses a real challenge for the oncoming millennium. The communique and recommendations are succinct and although these are hard times, the messages they convey will someday, somewhere and somehow impact positively on the society at large.


    Healthcare in Nigeria needs unremitting auditing and refining, just as water constantly dripping wears away stone. The Sixth Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogue has engaged all aspects of Health – Funding, Research, Care at all levels, Who Benefits, Who is Disadvantaged, the AIDS pandemic and the Future of the Profession – each subtheme drawing authoritative reactions from some of the most seasoned and experienced players in the nation’s health industry today.
    The proceedings as presented in these pages serve eloquently, along with the prior Dialogue on Education, as the central plank of the social ‘contract’ on which the overarching philosophy of the sage was predicated. It is in keeping with the style of the Foundation that no corners are smoothed and the bold initiatives set out in ‘The Way Forward’ deserve the attention of anyone seriously concerned with planning or executing strategies for the sustenance of good health for Nigeria’s teeming millions.


    The scenic natural beauty and physical health of Nigeria has been severely compromised  in recent decades by the multiple insults of polluted rivers, barren forests, agricultural and  livestock waste, unmaintained highways, toxic dumps, mountains of refuse heaps, industrials  fumes, vehicular exhausts, filthy markets and, above all, oil spills and gas flaring.
    The urgent need to address these problems led the Obafemi  Awolowo  Foundation to adopt the Nigeria Environment as the topic for the 7th  Annuals Dialogue.
    The proceedings of this timely dialogue are presented  in this  volume and  serve  to illuminate  contemporary issues in our environment in its own  unique way .It is replete  with  new ideas and fresh perspectives from major  stakeholders whose ultimate aim is to make Nigeria environments – safe, friendly and healthy.       


    In documenting the proceeding of the 8th Obafemi Awolowo Foundation Dialogue, this volume aims at deepening the nascent democratic character of Nigeria’s polity. In ten exciting  sessions  following a comprehensive  keynote, it addresses the sinews of the democratic  process – constitutional, institutional, governance, the economy, civil- military  relations, conflict management, external  relations and the reshaping of civil society.
    It is both timely and unique in making its debut as Nigeria begins to get its act together again after years of deprivation in civil governance. Many of the recommendations embodied in the communiqué will hopefully strengthen the tottering footsteps of players in the new field – notably the executive and the legislature – and reassure the teeming populace of the importance of continuing political audit through regular dialogue. 


    Nigeria’s poverty  profile indicates a five – fold rise in the core poor population over the last 16- year period, 1980-1996, with 40% of the populace earning less than US $ 1.00 a day. The 9th Obafemi  Awolowo  Foundation  Dialogue  on The Face of poverty addresses yet  another festering sore in the  developing  world context – poverty.
    The  proceedings of the Dialogue , focus on five  key areas –strategies and imperatives of poverty  reduction in an emergent democracy ; poverty and basic human needs; poverty and women; understanding the paradox of poverty in the midst of plenty; and poverty and globalization.
    The presentation and discussions featured in this volume articulate the various strands of an enduring national malaise from both theoretical and practical perspectives.
    Lessons learned from the speakers’ academic and hands – on engagement with the poverty problem are presented with appropriate illustration and external perspectives that should further propel comprehension and action on resolving the poverty issue.


    “… his trajectory was providentially placed in a nation that , more than any other developing country, needed him most, a space of  both human and material  resources that was singularly  fitted to his massive capabilities, and this , sadly, was denied.” … Wole  Soyinka.
    Chief  Obafemi  Awolowo, Nigeria  statesman  and one – time premier of Nigeria’s Western Region, spent most of his  life analyzing problems that beset the  country as well as suggesting  viable solutions to them . As politician and head of government,  he set a pace of development that should by now have taken Nigeria to an enviable position among the world’s  leading  economies, if the whole country had followed his example. In 1987 when he died,  Nigeria was still groping in the dark and reeling under the yoke of military rule; and now in 2009, the country merely drifts on.
    In this book celebrating the centennial of his birth , many scholar examine the record of this great African philosopher, politician and leader, and show that his thoughts and methods – especially his emphasis on the development of individual man –contain the remedy for Nigeria’s, nay Africa’s, underdevelopment.   


    Chief Obafemi Awolowo was first a thinker, and only secondly a politician. Among Africa's political leaders he is pre-eminent in the analytical manner in which he approached
    Africa's enormous economic, political and social problems.
    His mind ranged far and wide on very complex issues of governance in Africa. Because of his strong belief in the power of the intellect, Chief Awolowo developed and propagated his ideals and vision for Nigeria in a forceful manner. He was concerned to break the- cultural barrier existing in Nigeria and to develop the State into a modem industrial nation . . .In his conduct, in and out of office, Chief Awolowo was guided by the need to promote social justice. The truths which he espoused are marching on, and
    will remain valid for all time.

© Obafemi Awolowo Foundation. All rights reserved. 2012.
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