Osita Chidoka, the former Aviation Minister and a road safety expert, through his Facebook page, has given an insight into his love for late Yoruba leader, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. He said that the three books on Awolowo that he bought between 1998 and 1999 immensely influenced him.
In his words, “Chief Obafemi Awolowo was a great influence in my life. I started reading him in secondary school when I read his biography My Early Life, which I later learnt was influenced by Winston Churchill’s biography of same title. I am infatuated by Winston Churchill too, but another story for another day.
“My first conflict with my father was his disagreement with me over my choice of Awo as a role model. He told me what he did during the war against the Igbos and his introduction of ethnic politics in Nigeria. I agree with him on both counts but yet I still admired the man.
“The man Awo is examplary in his personal discipline, iron cast will and determination to achieve his life goals. He went to university as a grown man and read law at great personal cost. He lost his properties to an auction due to loan default and overcame it. He modernized campaigning in Nigeria but most importantly he wrote copiously. He was a reader and a writer. Awo was astounding in his courage, reading the death of his son Segun while he was in prison and the way he took it left an impression on me.
“I love his turn of phrases he wrote such beautiful lines like “my jewel of inestimable value” his love of Law and its practice. Reading his books gave very good insight into the first republic.
“Awo had his issues, he was rigid, unforgiving and like his contemporaries used unorthodox mechanism for party funding that has continued to plague Nigeria to this day. While Coker Commission of Inquiry was a witch-hunt the facts were glaring and Awo acknowledged this much in the book Travails of Democracy pg 383 to 390.
“Ayo Rosiji’s biography by Nina Mba provided counter narratives to Awo’s position on many issues. I enjoyed reading them all. I got some perspectives on Chief Akinola from Rosiji’s book. What Akintola pushed for is what Tinubu did in 2015. Whether it worked out well for the Yorubas is for future analysis. Between Awo and Akintola somebody was right. Hopefully, Tinubu will write a book someday.
“Sadly, my hero MI Okpara, our Leader Zik did not write prolifically like Awo. My Odyssey by Zik and Pragmatic socialism by Okpara did not go far enough. I made the point when I reviewed Mbazulike Amechi’s book in 2019.
“I recommend to young Nigerians to read books on our history. You will find Fourth Dimension’s publications of accounts of the civil war interesting. Awolowo’s books gives us rare and detailed insight into events leading to the crisis of the first republic.
“It is unfortunate that the coup called Igbo coup has as its mission to release Awo from prison and install him as Prime Minister. Majors Ifeajuna and Nzeogwu shared that common belief and I have it on good authority. The events that caused the civil war started from the Western Region and exacerbated by the ruling NPC, sadly it ended with the East bearing the brunt.