If Major General Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi had not abolished regionalism and resource control on May 24, 1966, with his Decree Number 34, the Western Region of Nigeria would have been better than Dubai today. That act set back Nigeria perhaps 100 years backwards, and we have not recovered from it until today.

Even with Awolowo in prison since 1963, the Western Region was on automatic pilot and still outperformed every other region by 1966, when Ironsi ended regionalism, because of his policies, especially his Universal Free Primary Education, which was compulsory and non-discriminatory. It included free school feeding to all children in the Western Region, no matter where their parents came from.

The Awolowo Western Region government introduced university scholarships that were higher in award amount than the federal scholarships. Awolowo’s scholarship not only paid your school fees, whether in Nigeria or abroad, but your parents were paid a stipend during the pendency of your scholarship.

Long before Barack Obama achieved the Affordable Care Act (ACA), on March 23, 2010, Chief Awolowo had universal health coverage in the Western Region of Nigeria for every child and persons under eighteen, irrespective of whether or not their parents were from the Western Region. He did this by establishing at least one hospital in every administrative division in the Western Region.

The Western Region also had the first television station in Africa, the Western Nigeria Television Service, to keep citizens informed, educated and entertained.

Chief Awolowo established the Western Nigerian Development Corporation, which helped Westerners establish businesses and turned present-day Ikeja into the most industrialised part of Nigeria to date. He set up the cooperative that ensured that as long as you were a farmer in the Western Region, the government would buy your produce as a last resort if you could not sell it.

Explaining why he committed himself to these policies, Chief Awolowo, on September 3, 1959, said:

“To educate the child is to lay the solid foundation for future social and economic progress: to provide health services is to combat diseases which are wasting on human resources and, therefore, reduce our productive potentialities. The Government has, for these reasons, brought about the greatest social revolution in the history of Black Africa.”

If I were a Catholic, I would have asked Pope Francis to make Chief Awolowo a Saint.

May God bless the memory, offspring, and lineage of Papa Obafemi Awolowo, forever and ever, in Yeshua’s Name.

 

By:Reno Omokri

By TheInterviewsNigeria

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