Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos on Tuesday said the legacies and landmark achievements of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo remained a source of inspiration and benchmark for progressive leadership.
Ambode said this at the unveiling of Awolowo’s statue on Awolowo Road/Lateef Jakande Road Junction in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said that Awolowo displayed an ability to use leadership as a tool for advancing the people’s welfare.
“Late Chief Awolowo was a leading voice among eminent nationalists of his time who successfully negotiated our nation’s liberation from colonial masters.
“Awolowo was a symbol to the aspiration of western Nigeria and Lagos territory during his days.
“His achievements at the helm of affairs in western Nigeria gave us supremacy, and that is what Lagos has always aspired to be.
“The unveiling of the statue is, thus, in recognition of all the good legacies that the Awolowo dynasty is enviably known for,” he said.
Ambode said that the statue was not just about beautifying the environment or serving as a tourist attraction but a reminder of the need to value sacrifices of past heroes and uphold and promote the ideals which they stood for.
The governor said that the position of Lagos State on restructuring of Nigeria was as stipulated in the manifesto of the APC.
“APC manifesto states: APC shall initiate action to amend our Constitution with a view to devolving powers, duties and responsibilities to states and local governments in order to entrench true federalism and federal spirit.
“We as a people are adamant in making sure that this part of the party’s manifesto comes to pass, ” Ambode said.
Earlier, Dr Tokunbo Awolowo-Dosunmu, one of the children of the late Awolowo, commended Lagos State Government for keeping the memory and legacy of her father alive by installing the statue.
Awolowo-Dosumu said that her father was able to achieve free education and other laudable programmes because he judiciously utilised revenues from tax.
She said that the state government followed her father’s footsteps by properly utilising tax payers’ money to implement development projects which directly impacted on the citizens.
“When my father initiated taxation then, many people were not happy, but when they saw development in terms of education and infrastructure, they believed and trusted his initiative by paying their taxes promptly.
“With the ongoing infrastructure upgrade in Lagos State, people will begin to support government policies and projects,’’ she said.
The sculptor of the monument, Mr Hamzat Attach, said that the late Awolowo stood for quality leadership, education and mentorship to achieve effective governance and development.
In her remarks, Mrs Adebimpe Akinsola, Lagos State Acting Commissioner, Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture, said that the government installed the monument to make the state an attractive destination for visitors.
Also present at the event are Awolowo’s first grandson, Mr Segun Awolowo, and the Wife of the Vice President, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo, who is also a granddaughter of the late icon.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Awolowo was the first Premier of the Western Region and later a federal Commissioner for Finance, and Vice Chairman of the Federal Executive Council during the Civil War.
He died on May 9, 1987, at the age of 78.