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Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership

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PRESS STATEMENT AT THE UNVEILING OF THE RECIPIENT OF

THE 2014 OBAFEMI AWOLOWO PRIZE FOR LEADERSHIP

 

Introduction

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, on 19 December, 2012, the recipient of the maiden award of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership was announced while the actual ceremony for the presentation of the award was held on March 6, 2013. We are here today to unveil the winner of the 2014 award.

 

 

Background

 

The Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership is an initiative of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, which was set up in April 1992 to serve as the custodian of Chief Awolowo's intellectual and leadership legacy. It was established as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to immortalising the democratic and development-oriented ideals of Chief Obafemi Awolowo.

 

The Foundation has sought, over the years, to pursue its mission through various activities which include the periodic hosting of Dialogues designed to examine critical issues of national concern with a view to proposing viable alternative strategies for their solution.

 

The institution of the Prize is a direct outcome of the Special Dialogue held in July 2011 and themed, ‘Transformational Leadership and Good Governance: Lessons from the Awolowo Example'. The dialogue highlighted the fact that one of the greatest challenges facing African countries is the dearth of good leadership. It therefore recommended that the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation should institute an Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership to encourage, recognize, reward and celebrate excellence in Nigerian leadership.

 

As is well known, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Nigerian and Pan-African nationalist of glObal repute, was the First Premier of Nigeria's Western region and, later, Leader of Opposition in the Federal Parliament. He was also, inter alia , Nigeria's Federal Commissioner (now known as Minister) of Finance and Vice Chairman, Federal Executive Council and played crucial roles in Nigeria's constitutional and political development during the country's colonial and postcolonial history.

 

A highly revered Nigerian federalist, Chief Awolowo was variously described by Nigerian leaders, upon his transition, as “the issue in Nigerian politics” and “the best president Nigeria never had”. Of particular relevance is Chief Obafemi Awolowo's leadership bent, well acknowledged as people-centred, visionary, integrity-laden and underlined by personal discipline. His grassroots-friendly policies and transformational approach to leadership are still evident in the various legacies of the late sage.

 

The Prize

 

The Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership is a prestigious, biennial, international prize structured to follow a rigorous process of nomination and subsequent screening by a Selection Committee consisting of some of the most outstanding Nigerians.

 

Nominees are expected to have demonstrated, to a substantial degree, the attributes considered to have characterised Chief Awolowo's leadership style, which include integrity, credibility, discipline, courage, selflessness, accountability, tenacity of purpose, visionary and people-centred leadership, as well as respect for the rule of law and press freedom.

 

The prize consists of a medal, a certificate and a plaque. The emphasis is on the intrinsic value of the award, which, in itself, not only confers considerable honour and recognition on the recipient, but also serves as a strong incentive to Nigerians for the pursuit of excellence in leadership and good governance.

 

Members of the Selection Committee are: Chief Emeka Anyaoku (Chairman), Justice Muhammadu Uwais, Professor Akin Mabogunje, Sir Olaniwun Ajayi, Chief Ayo Adebanjo, Olorogun Felix Ibru, Professor O O Akinkugbe, Bishop Emmanuel Gbonigi, Bishop Mathew Kuka, Professor Adetokunbo Lucas, Professor Ladipo Adamolekun, Professor Anya O Anya, Mr Bola Akingbade, Professor (Mrs) Funmi Soetan, and Mr Niyi Adegbonmire.

 

The 2014 Award

 

In line with the relevant guidelines for the selection of candidates for the award, the call for nomination for the second edition of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership was published from June 2014. This year, the Selection Committee decided to, henceforth, widen the scope of the Prize by throwing the process open to include international nominations. At the close of nomination, many nominations were received. At this juncture, we wish to thank all those who sent in nominations for consideration. We would also like to acknowledge that many of these nominees are eminent persons who have, no doubt, made tremendous contributions in various spheres of life.

 

The Recipient

 

It gives me immense pleasure to inform you that, after an elaborate and rigorous screening process as well as very careful consideration, the Selection Committee came to the unanimous conclusion that, of all the nominees presented before it, the individual adjudged to possess the attributes for the award to the highest degree and therefore is the recipient of the 2014 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership is Mr. Thabo Mbeki, former President of South Africa.

Appropriate citation of Mr Mbeki will be given at the actual award ceremony which is scheduled to hold on March 6, 2015, Chief Awolowo's birth anniversary.

 

Suffice it to say at this point, however, that in addition to being a renowned champion of Africa's renaissance, Mr Thabo Mbeki has in his distinguished career to date, demonstrated many of the core leadership qualities that have been associated with Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and which this Prize is meant to encourage and reward.

 

We thank you all for your attention and support.

Chief Emeka Anyaoku CFR, CON, GCVO

Chairman, Selection Committee of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership

30 January, 2015

 

 

© Obafemi Awolowo Foundation. All rights reserved. 2012.
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