Former Commonwealth secretary-general, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has reiterated the need for urgent restructuring of the country, on which, he noted, its unity, stability and development depend.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday at the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership and 110th anniversary of the birth of Awolowo, Anyaoku, who doubled as the chairman of the selection committee, said the current agitation for restructuring was partly informed by what many consider to be Awolowo’s incontrovertible analysis and prescriptions for successful management of Nigeria’s pluralism.
According to him, Nigeria, with its history and diversity, is in dire need of a governance architecture that devolves considerable powers to its component parts, with a centre that operates on inclusive basis.
The event celebrated foremost Nigerian legal practitioner and educationist, Aare Afe Babalola, who won this year’s prize.
Babalola’s emergence as the third winner of the award came five years after former South African president, Mr. Thabo Mbeki, won it.
Nobel Prize winner, Prof. Wole Soyinka, won the prize in 2012.
Anyaoku explained that the award was for individuals adjudged to have demonstrated in their public life the attributes on which the enduring reputation of Awolowo is based.
His words: “It is, I believe, well known that among the attributes demonstrated by Chief Awolowo in his public life were integrity, credibility, discipline, selflessness, visionary and people-centred leadership, respect for the rule of law, accountability, courage and tenacity of purpose.”
The erstwhile Commonwealth scribe described the recipient as having distinguished himself in various areas of leadership.
Meanwhile, Anyaoku, together with former head of state, Gen. Yakubu Gowon (rtd.); and renowned poet, John P. Clark; were among dignitaries who graced the funeral of the late Ambassador Joe Iyalla at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina Lagos.
The eminent Nigerians expressed grief over the loss of the diplomat who they described as hardworking and successful.
Gen. Gowon in a chat with The Guardian noted that Iyalla lived an exemplary life worthy of emulation, adding that he was a philanthropist who served the country tirelessly.
He said: “While I was the head of state, he was a diplomat. I can tell you that I am proud of him. I was surprised; it was only few days ago I got the news about his death and funeral. He served the country well. I am so delighted that I am here to bid him farewell. May his soul rest in peace.”
The bereaved wife, Mabel Iyalla, narrated her journey with the deceased.
“We have been married for 60 years. That explains it. It has not been easy. But we made it. Sixty years together without him getting married to another woman. He was a loving man and very quiet.”