Awolowo’s leadership qualities “in tune with our transformation agenda” – President Jonathan

Wole Soyinka was honoured with Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in Lagos.

The Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, has said that the leadership qualities that typified the live of the late Obafemi Awolowo is “in tune with his government’s transformation agenda” which recognizes excellent leadership.

Mr. Jonathan stated this, Wednesday, while congratulating Nobel laureate, Wole Soyinka, who was honoured with the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in Lagos.

“Awolowo was a foremost nationalist and statesman. He deployed his intellect in the promotion of our country and the good of the people,” said Mr. Jonathan, who was represented by Vice President Namadi Sambo.

“He (Soyinka) has not only contributed to the survival of our country but also strengthened our national and international profile.

“He fits the award because he is imbued with leadership qualities that marked Awolowo out. It is also in tune with the transformation agenda of our government which recognises quality in leadership and service,” Mr. Jonathan added.

The Obafemi Awolowo Leadership Prize was instituted in 2011 by the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation on the basis of one of the major recommendations of its special dialogue on ‘Transformational Leadership and Good Governance: Lessons from Awolowo Example.

Though Mr. Soyinka was announced as the recipient of the maiden edition at a press conference last December, he formally received the prize – a medal, certificate, and plaque – on March 6, Mr. Awolowo’s birthday.

In his speech, Mr. Soyinka called on the Nigerian government to emulate the leadership qualities of Mr. Awolowo in its dealings with the citizenry.

“Government at all levels must ensure that they do not continually encroach on the intelligence of the ordinary citizens,” Mr. Soyinka said.

“Today’s event may yet make a Christian out of me since, from my admittedly imperfect recollection of the Christian bible, somewhere it is written: to him who hath, even more shall be given.

“Despite the numerous explications I have encountered from childhood regarding that problematic passage, I have never been at ease with its implicit inequity,” said Mr. Soyinka.

“Today, however, I am setting aside all such objections. I was a beneficiary of the liberal educational policy, at tertiary level, of the man whose memory we are here to honour, and now, today, I find myself recipient of yet another largesse, an inestimable honour at the hands – albeit posthumously – of that same sage,” he added.

Emeka Anyaoku, the Chairman of the Award Selection Committee, said that the award will be awarded every two years.

“The prize is established to encourage, recognise, reward and celebrate excellence in Nigerian leadership. It is awarded to a Nigerian who has demonstrated excellence in leadership and good governance, a Nigerian who has made relevant vital contributions within the country or abroad,” Mr. Anyaoku, a former Commonwealth Secretary General, said.

“The recipient could be a former head of government at various tier of government, a vice chancellor of university, community leader and a contributor to good governance and leadership through advocacy, such as a human rights activist,” he added.

Six state governors attended the event including Olusegun Mimiko (Ondo), Ibikunle Amosun (Ogun), Rauf Aregbesola (Osun), and Babangida Aliyu (Niger).

Former Head of State, Yakubu Gowon, and former Lagos State governor, Bola Tinubu, were also in attendance.


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