The last two years of Awolowo as Premier of Western Region was concentrated on efforts to write his name in the book of Legends.
He incorporated: Western Hotels which invested in:
1) Premier Hotel,
2) Lafia hotels in Ibadan
3) Lagos Airport Hotel respectively.
He set up:
Western Nigeria Development Corporation to finance mega-corporations. This was established in 1958.
It encouraged plantation development with six agricultural plantations covering 20,517 acres in collaboration with Cooperative societies, and eleven additional plantations covering 8,468 acres with crops ranging from Cocoa, Rubber, Oil Palm, Citrus, Cashew, and Coffee had been put in place all over the region.
WNDC, a clearing house for a multitude of companies, was established for the rapid industrial development and revolution of the region.
Among them were:
- WAPCO at Ewekoro for cement, with enough capacity to serve the whole country.
- Nigerite Ltd, producing asbestos and roofing sheets,
- National Bank,
- Wema Bank,
- Nigerian General Insurance,
- Great Nigeria Insurance,
- Gravil Enthoven and coy,
- Vegetables Oil Ltd,
- Cocoa Processing Industry Ogba Ikeja,
- Odua Textile Mills Ltd,
- Wrought Iron Ltd,
- Union beverages Ltd, 13. Sungass company,
- Wemabod estates, owner of Western House’s tallest building, then on Broad Street, and other estates,
- Western livestock,
- Fisheries Services Ltd,
- Caxton Press,
- Epe Plywood,
- Asakar Paints,
- Nigeria Crafts and Bags Ltd,
- Nipol Plastics in Ibadan,
- Phoenix Motors.
Also, he opened up the biggest industrial layouts in:
i. Ibadan, Oluyole and
ii. Lagos Oba Akran axis and
iii. Ilupeju in Mushin axis with over 120 factories for mass production of different needs & gave birth to:
- Nigeria Textile Mills,
- West Africa Breweries,
- Dunlop Tyres,
- Crittal Hope Aluminum,
- Tower Aluminium,
- Solel Boneh,
- Nigeria Wire and Cables in Ilupeju.
Odua Investments was the largest conglomerate in Nigeria as of 2004 with assets worth over N10 trillion.
Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo paid the Western Nigeria Civil servants, the highest salaries far above the Federal government.
So many jobs were created by vast industrialisation drives.
All these were achieved without Oil revenue between 1951-1959. He also touched the road construction with bitumen & laid a road network covering over 2,000 kilometers throughout the region.
Other achievements of his regime are:
- Cocoa House, the tallest building in West Africa for decades,
- Liberty Stadium, the most modern in the entire African,
- Western Nigeria Television & Broadcasting Service (WNTV/WNBS), the first Radio & Television Stations in Africa,
- Many General Hospitals and Dispensaries in rural areas.
- Free Education at the primary school level.
- His effort in Cooperative society development gave birth to the establishment of the Cooperative Bank in 1953 and the Cooperative College.
The eight years most of this present Governors spend, was the same as Pa Awolowo, covering what comprises 8 states nowadays, yet he achieved so much. Most of our present-day Governors could not mention one world-class company, corporate institution or industry set up to create jobs for teaming youths being turned out a year in, year out, by our ivory towers.
Today leaders should at least emulate our late sage footsteps instead of all the temporary empowerment programs (Motor cycle, Keke Napep, Pepper grinding machine, Cassava grinding machine, Deep freezer, Fridge, Clipper, etc) being used to cajole the electorates at the turn of election every four years.
A time will come in this nation when people aspiring for a position must show a well-laid-out plan before the electorate.
The cash and carry politics will fail as it’s the practice in a developed nation.
Let us always look forward to lasting legacies.
OBAFEMI AWOLOWO was obviously ahead of his peers and till today no living or deceased Nigerian has surpassed his achievements.
You wonder why southwest Nigeria did well.
In the 1990s, Nigeria Textile Mills, Oba Akran Ikeja alone employed over 4,000 workers before the military mismanagement of the economy killed the company with unfriendly company policies
Can we ever find a leader like this man in Nigeria again?