Editor’s note: Chief Olusegun Obasanjo is considered a national icon and an elder statesman in Nigeria’s politics and a respected former president in the continent.
In this open letter to the former president, Bada Yusuf points out that in spite of the successes and recognition Obasanjo may receive, his work is incomplete if the Yoruba’s don’t benefit from it.
Excellency Sir, Chief Oluṣẹgun Mathew Okikiọla Arẹmu Ọbasanjọ; as it is pertinent to note your achievement in our national politics especially in the area of installing democracy in Nigeria.
You remain the longest serving Yoruba leader at the national level, your transition of power from military to civilian and much later from one civilian to another remain a feat that should forever be celebrated in the Western part of the country, but unfortunately, the Yorubas appear to be the casualties of your political achievement.
I am writing this letter to you because of the state of affairs in the Yoruba nation, this is not for partisan consideration as you may consider yourself more subjected to Nigeria than Yoruba but what I know for sure is nowhere is as absolute as home and I believe this is why you have no other place to return to than Ota in Ogun State (One of the core part of the Yoruba nation) and this is one reason why a young Yoruba youth like me wonder why all the glory Yoruba people still remembered for are what Chief Obafemi Awolowo had put in place in the Yoruba Nation, and this is why I feel it is necessary to write you an open letter as an elder.
Excellency Sir, we are in a country where average life expectancy is put at 47.6 years, you have crossed 80 years. What do you want to be remembered for after 30 years of your death? What legacy are you putting on the tongue of the young Yorubas to talk about you?
There are several legacies that Awolowo is being remembered for today, in term of development in the Yoruba nation in which the Yoruba masses benefitted immensely from and many of us still dream of such achievements, especially we that were not born then, I will like to address few of them in this letter. The few include education and agriculture.
Awolowo’s free education system in the defunct western government put the Yorubas at the front in term of intellectual progress, scholarships were provided for the intelligent less privileged, people were encourage to go to school, the enthusiasm to go to school overwhelmed the young but after the demise of Awolowo to the stiller town, things fall apart.
You have ruled Nigeria both as a military head of state and as a civilian president, how do you improve our education system? Some states under your party did not offer the so called free education, Ogun State, your state specifically did not.
Some states that attempted to offer free education were forced to return some schools to the missionaries due to lack of fund, universities experienced incessant strikes, same with schools and workers and you built a university in which the masses (including the Yorubas) who live below one dollar per day cannot afford, none of your books is less than a thousand naira and your famous presidential library in Abeokuta is yet to start functioning.
Although there are other social activities but the library that will benefit and improve our intellectuals is not yet in place. What would you like to be remembered for Sir? Cocoa house in Ibadan is another heritage of Awolowo that every Yorubas is proud of, even the youth.
I visited cocoa house during your administration and it is nothing to write about as heritage, it a place of shopping malls and road side markets as if nobody is planting cocoa in Yoruba land again and Nigeria at large.
Awolowo agricultural economy based immensely developed the western region in all area of human concern, one of the living achievement today is University of Great Ife now Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU).
I can authoritatively tell you that all those buildings built by Awolowo are still as strong as free education heritage. It is recorded in history that you launched Operation Feed the Nation during your military regime, I want to ask Sir, where is the farm today? We all know your farm in Ota is one of the biggest in present Yoruba nation but what is the contribution of your Ota farm to the development of agriculture in the region, how many Yorubas have access to your farm products?
Sir, it is sometimes provoking that when we youths question our leaders these days of how we lost our glory; the response has always been what are the youths doing to put things right? But the privatization and degrading academic system rendered the youth less innovation and creatively useless.
There are thousands of youth who are creative in their area of study but what uses are ideas when you have no money to materialize ideas into reality. Sir, I believe the sun can still dry some tears before it set. The Yorubas are lagging behind in term of development and innovation, what would you like to be remembered for?
[Credit: Naij, Slickson]