Republished: Shola Akingboye (Awoist)
Awo’s Motto Formulated On His 30th Birthday
“After rain comes sunshine; After darkness comes the glorious dawn. There is no sorrow without its alloy of joy; there is no joy without its admixture of sorrow. Behind the ugly terrible mask of misfortune lies the beautiful soothing countenance of prosperity. So, tear the mask!”
– My Early Life, 1968.
Awo on His Wife of 50 Years
“Throughout all the changing fortunes of my life … , my wife, Hannah Idowu Dideolu Awolowo (nee Adelana) has been to me a jewel of inestimable value. She is an ideal wife … The outpouring of her love and devotion to me and to our family is exceeding and beyond words … I do not hesitate to confess that I owe my success in life to three factors: the Grace of God, a Spartan self-discipline, and a good wife. Our home is to all of us, a true haven; a place of happiness, and of imperturbable seclusion from the buffetings of life.”
– My Early Life, 1968
Awo on Risk Taking
“It is, I think, enough for me to say that life itself is, from the cradle to the grave, a series of unbroken risks. I make no boast about this, but those who know me intimately will testify to the fact that I have never, at any time, shrunk from taking my full share of the risks which life, with its unending opportunities and vicissitudes, offers.”
– Voice of Reason, 1981
Awo On “The Courage To Look”
“The gloom of the world is but a shadow, and there is radiance in the darkness, if we could but
see. To be able to see this radiance, all you need to do is to cultivate the courage to look, and the insight to apprehend the light which shines, at all times and in all places, for those who make Truth the object of their daily pursuit.”
Speech to University Graduands (1967): In Voice of Courage, 1981.
Awo On Failure As Springboard To Success
“I have come to learn, from personal experience, that failure and defeat always serve as springboards for greater achievements for I, whom who never acknowledges their potency, and who is prepared to meet the challenges posed by’ them – for they always pose challenges.
Statement on Attaining the Age of 67; 1976
Awo On Light and Darkness
“In the presence of light, darkness cannot exist; nor can the night of misery and suffering… The compelling urge to be a harbinger of light over Nigeria has been my one consuming passion for more than four decades now … My yearnings for the descent of light upon Nigeria became so deep that they were soon transformed into an irrepressible call to duty.”
– Text of a Broadcast on the Nigerian Television, Ibadan, 1979
Awo On Self-Discipline
“I will, more than ever before, subject myself to severe self- discipline. Only men who are masters of themselves become easily masters of others. Therefore, my thoughts, my tongue,
and my actions shall be brought under strict control always.”
– My March Through Prison, 1985
Awo’s View of The World
“I must take the world as I find it: with its sprinkling of saints and its multitude of evil-doers, … ; with its source of happiness and its tons of sorrow. My duty, therefore, is to view anything that may happen to me in this world with Christ- like calm and equanimity and to do all in my power to promote the progress and advancement of mankind”.
– My March Through Prison, 1985
Awo On His Lifestyle As Example To The Youths
“Those who desire to reach, and keep their places at the top in any calling must be prepared to do so the hard way.”
– Awo (Autobiography). 1960
Awo On The Temporary Nature Of Human Problems
“In the long run, all human problems do settle themselves aright, whatever anyone or group of people may do. This is so, because all those who do wrong and injustice, are merely setting themselves against the powerful tide of Nature’s or, if you like, History’s dialectical progression. Temporarily, this tide can be held back; but certainly, not permanently. “
– Address to 4th OAU Summit in Kinshasa, Sept, (/967): In Voice of Courage (1981)
Awo On Leadership By Example
“Those of us placed in a position of leadership must be prepared to grasp the nettle if we unite in doing so, and if, in addition, we set a worthy example and a marat on pace in probity, unselfishness, and self-sacrifice, the people will follow, all too readily, in our footsteps. “
– Call to Rededication and Reconstruction (1961): In Voice of Reason (1981)
Awo On The Law Of Sowing and Reaping
“Like cause always produce like effect. In kind, we always reap what we sow; but quantitatively, we always reap much more than we sow.”
– Lecture at the University of Lagos (1968): In Voice of Courage (1981)
Awo On Good and Evil
“The touchstone of what is good, be it thought, or word or action, is LOVE. We are to love our neighbours as ourselves. That is the law and the prophets. Anything therefore – any thought or word or action – which falls short of LOVE is evil, and holds within itself the germ of its own eventual and inevitable destruction.”
– Lecture at the University of Lagos (1968): In Voice of Courage (1981)
Awo On Man and His Environment
“Man is not born to grope in the face of adverse environmental circumstances and conditions: he is ordained, and endowed with the capacity, to comprehend the universe, conquer his immediate surroundings, and rule the world. But first, he must understand the world and all its phenomena: he must do so systematically and scientifically.”
– The People’s Republic, 1968
Awo On Man As The Sole Dynamic In Nature
“Man is the sole dynamic in nature; and accordingly, every individual constitutes the supreme economic potential which a country possesses. It is axiomatic that man can create nothing. But, by an intelligent and purposive application of the exertions of his body and mind, he can exploit natural resources to produce goods and service….. Therefore, other things being equal, the healthier his body and the more educated his mind, the greater will be his morale and the more efficient he becomes as a producer and consumer.”
– University of Ife Convocation Speech (/974): In Voice of Courage (1981)
Awo On Development of Human Personality
“A man whose personality is fully developed never fears anything; he cringes not, and never feels inferior to anyone; His breadth of mind enables him to exercise his freedom in such a manner as not to endanger the interests and freedom of others. He is a citizen of the world – free from narrow prejudices. He is what he is because the three main constituents of his entity – his body, brain, and mind – are fully developed. Mens Sana in Corpore Sano!”
– Voice of Reason (1981)
Awo On The Cultivation of The Human Mind
“Whether we are conscious of or acknowledge it or not, the fact remains stubborn and indestructible that poverty, disease, social unrest, and instability, and all kinds of international conflicts, have their origins in the minds of men … It is only when the minds of men have been properly and rigorously cultivated and garnished, that they can be safely entrusted with public affairs with a certainty and assuredness that they will make the best of their unique opportunity and assignment.”
– Inaugural Address as Chancellor of the University of Ife (1967) Voice of Wisdom, 1981
Awo On The Cardinal Aim of Education
“Any system of education which does not help a man to have a healthy and sound body and alert brain, and balanced and disciplined instinctive urges, is both misconceived and dangerous.”
– The People’s Republic. 1968
Awo on Free Education and Free Health Services
“In order to attain to the goals of economic freedom and prosperity, Nigeria must do certain things as a matter of urgency and priority. It must provide free education (at all levels) and free health facilities for the masses of its citizens.”
Awo on the Welfare of the Individual
“Man is the Alpha and Omega, the only dynamic means and the sole end, of all earthly human activities …. All productive activities, if they are to be meaningful, equitable,just and human, should be geared to one and only one goal- the welfare of the individual.”
– The People’s Republic, 1970.
Awo On Citizens General Well-Being
“He needs a healthy body which can be reared only on good food, adequate shelter, decent clothing, a reasonable measure of comfort and luxury, and a wholesome environment. He needs a sound and cultivated mind which is free to know and meditate upon the things of his choice. He has natural, conventional and legal rights which must be protected and upheld, with impartiality and inflexible justice by government and the society in which he lives.”
– Voice of Reason, 1980
Awo On Full Development And Employment Of All Talents
“When all the talents in society are not fully developed, it is not the individuals that are adversely affected alone who suffer; the society as a whole suffers as well. Now, granting that every Nigerian is given an opportunity to develop his talents, it is imperative that he should also be given an opportunity to employ these developed talents. Full development of man and his full employment are not only social imperatives, but also inseparably inter-connected and complementary.”
-Address delivered to Ondo State House of Assembly (1980): In Voice of Wisdom (1981)
Awo On The Development of the Soul-Personality
“Throughout my adult life, I have learnt about the development of the soul personality, I know the law and the prophets, that is to say, that love is the cornerstone of the universe both visible and invisible.”
My March Through Prison, 1988
Awo On Moral and Spiritual Reconstruction “There is an urgent and massive need for moral and spiritual reconstruction: the kind which will help to demolish morbid desire for naked power and domination … and ensure justice equity and fair play for all.”
– Lecture delivered to the Christian Laity of Nigeria. Lagos (1972): Voice of Wisdom (1981)
Awo On Human Desire For Power
“Let us make no pretense about it, every human being loves power; power over his fellow men in the state, or in business enterprises; or failing that; power over his wife and children, and over his brothers, sisters, and friends, or, in the case of children, power over his playmates. Of these categories of power, the desire for power over one’s fellow men is the strongest.”
– Address to Students’ Parliament (1975): In Voice of Wisdom (1981)
Awo on Equality of The Blackman with Other Races
“The Blackman shall be absolute and undisputed master in his own home, and shall enjoy unaffected and un-patronising equality with the other races of the world.”
– Press Statement (196/): Voice of Reason, 1981.
Awo on Power and How It Enslaves
“Power enslaves: absolute power enslaves absolutely. I have made a diligent search through history, and I have not come across a single instance where a regime, be it military or civilian, which has come to power at its own will, and has wielded that power for many years, has found it easy to extricate itself from the sweet uses and shackles of power, and then hand it to others outside its own hierarchy. It is possible, quite possible, that my search is not exhaustive and so, I stand to be corrected.”
– University of Ife Convocation (1974): In Voice of Courage. 1981.
Awo on Africa’s Dependence on Former Colonial Masters
“Today, Africa is a continent of COMPETING BEGGAR-NATIONs. We vie with one another for favours from our former colonial masters; and we deliberately fall over one another to invite neo- colonialists to come over to our different territories to preside over our economic fortunes … Unless a beggar resolutely shakes off, and irrevocably turns his back on, his begging habit, he will forever remain a beggar. For, the more he begs, the more he develops the beggar characteristics of lack of initiative, courage, drive and self-reliance.”
-Address to 4th OAU Summit in Kinshasa (1967): In Voice of Courage, 1981.
Awo on Self-Seeking African Leaders
“Africa has produced more self-seeking leaders than public-spirited ones. But, thank goodness, the masses of the people remain largely unspoilt and uncorrupted, and are developing fast the technique of differentiating gold from lead and real metal from dross. What is more, they have begun to show their preparedness for very rough action against any political leader who may be caught in the game of public trickery and fraud.”
– The People’s Republic, 1968
Awo On People’s Revolt Against Bad Leadership
“A greedy, corrupt, and evil administration is bound to wither, sooner or later, in the face of obsessive desire and mounting clamour on the part of the masses of the people for a welfare regime which will benefit all equally. In the course of time there will be a clash of desires and wills between the exploiters and the exploited. These clash of desires and wills will stir the universal mind into action, and a situation will then arise which will bring about the termination of or radical change in the greedy, and evil regime.”
– The People’s Republic, 1968
Awo on the Wisdom of Managing Rivalries
“It is safer and wiser to cure unhealthy rivalry than to suppress it.”
– Thoughts on The Nigerian Constitution, 1966.
Awo on the Danger of Not Practising What We Preach
“If we are in the habit of practising the opposite of what we preach, our admonition will not only lose their force and cogency, but also we ourselves will forfeit every claim to credibility. An ounce of example, it has been widely said, is far better than a ton of precepts.”
-Address to the Congregation of the University of Ife (1970): In Voice of Wisdom, 1981.
Awo on Thoroughness in Doing Things
“A half-hearted slipshod doer may be likened to a fool who takes five steps forward and three steps backwards … Again, a half-hearted doer may be likened to a man who sweeps a dirty room with a dirtier broom, and throws back into the room a good quality of the dirt which he has managed to remove from the room.”
– Voice of Wisdom (1981)
Awo’s Self-Assessment As A Leader
“While many men in power and public office are busy carousing in the midst of women of easy virtue and men of low morals, I, as a few others like me, am busy at my desk thinking about the problems of Nigeria and proffering solutions to them. Only the deep can call to the deep.”
Awo On The Risk That The Few Rich Are Running
“We have in our midst about 1,000 rich Nigerians who in the past cleverly rigged the sources of the wealth of our nation, and we are now tactically poised to oligopolise all the munificent avenues of riches that may supervene now and in the future. The rich, and the highly-placed in business, public life, and government, are running a dreadful risk in their callous neglect of the poor and down-trodden.”
– Address delivered to Ondo House of Assembly (/980): Voice of Wisdom, 1981.
Awo on Secularity of Nigeria
“Nigeria should be a secular State … As far as possible, there should be separation of activities between the States on the one hand, and religious bodies on the other.”
– Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution, 1966
Awo On A Motion For Self-Government
“Every time we talk about self-government, the British turn around and say if we depart from your country, there will be civil strife, there will be war … But even under their rule, how many of our sons who were taken to Burma, were decimated in a war, the beginning of which we do not know, the cause of which we do not know, and in the declaring of which we took no “art or part”. I challenge any Briton today to tell me whether the number of our people destroyed in their wars, are as many as those who had died in our so-called inter-tribal wars”. .
– Speech given in The House of Representatives (1953):Voice of Reason, 1981
Awo on the Nigerian Federation
“Nigeria is not a nation. It is a mere geographical expression. The word Nigerian is merely a distinctive appellation to distinguish those who live within the boundaries of Nigeria from those who do not”.
– Path To Nigerian Freedom, 1947
Awo On Nigeria As Created By The British
“It is incontestable that the British not only made Nigeria, but also hand it to us whole on their surrender of power. But the Nigeria, which they handed over to us, had in it the forces of its own disintegration. It is up to contemporary Nigerian leaders to neutralize these forces, preserve the Nigerian inheritance, and make all our people free, forward-looking and prosperous. “
– The Peoples’ Republic, 1968.
Awo On Future Conflicts
“The seed for a future minority problem in the North has been sown by the Government. It will grow with growing political consciousness on the part of those who settle permanently in the North.”
– Path to Nigerian Freedom. 1947
Awo on an Ijaw Presidency of Nigeria
“I look forward to the day – not in the far distant future – when an Ijaw would be President of our Republic, and a Birom his Vice or vice versa.”
– Speech at the UPN’s First Campaign (1978): In Voice of Wisdom (1981)
Awo’s Move for National Government
“At the conclusion of the Constitutional Conference in London in 1958, I had an overpowering feeling of foreboding … that something untoward was going to happen to Nigeria. That it would happen, I felt sure; but when it would happen, I had no inkling … At first, I felt there was nothing I could do about it. But later on, I thought I might do something about it.”
– The Travails of Democracy and The Rule of Law, 1987.
Awo on Federalism for Multi-National Country
“I predict that every multi-lingual or multi-national country with a unitary constitution must either eventually have a federal constitution based on the principles which J have enunciated, or disintegrate, or be perennially afflicted with disharmony and instability.”
– The Peoples’ Republic, 1968.
Awo on Human Diversity and Political Autonomy
“You can unite but can never succeed in unifying peoples whom language has set distinctly apart from one another; the more educated a linguistic. group becomes, the stronger it waxes in its bids for political self-determination and autonomy, unless it happens to be the dominant group.”
– Thoughts on the Nigerian Constitution, 1966.
Awo On Creation of More States for Minorities
“The creation of the Mid- West State will be the beginning of a journey which may be short or long but which will irresistibly bring Nigeria to the goal of true federalism and more States, and of individual freedom and happiness for all our people.”
– Awolowo and Nigerian Federalism, 1988.
Awo on Population As Basis Of Sharing Revenue
“In a country where the accuracy of the census figures is so much in acrimonious dispute, it is gross and aggravating provocation to urge that population should be used as a basis of sharing what belongs to others who are much fewer in number.”
-The Strategy and Tactics of the People’s Republic of Nigeria, 1970
Awo on State Police
“Under my proposals, Police is a residual subject, because the immediate problem of maintaining law and order can only be properly and more effectively tackled by the State Government.”
– The Strategy and Tactics of the Peoples’ Republic of Nigeria, 1970.
Awo on Peoples’ Fear of His Death Arising from National Crisis
“Fortified with the justness of the cause we espouse in this crisis, and trusting in the never- failing providence of God, 1 can say with confidence that there, where my blood is shed, no grass will grow again, and no life is likely to flourish again. Undoubtedly, lives might be lost if the ugly crisis continues for long. But God, who sees our hearts and knows why we have refused to bow to blind tyranny, and are, as a result, in this politically helpless plight, will protect me and my colleagues from any harm.”
– The Travails of Democracy and the Rule of Law, 1987.
Awo On The Nigerian Civil War
“It appears to me that the causes of the last Civil War lie embedded in the nether realms of such degrading and depraving evils as unemployment; mass ignorance; endemic and debilitating diseases; low productivity; abuse and misuse of power, bribery and corruption; favouritism and nepotism; ethnocentricity and tribalism; much poverty and much discontent.”
– Address to The Nigerian Trade Union Congress (1970)