ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF THE INDIVIDUAL
Chief Obafemi Awolowo
The seeds of peace must be sown and nurtured in the minds of men
Full text of the Lecture on 'The Economic Well-being of the Individual'
delivered by Chief Obafemi Awolowo at the Christ Church Cathedral, Lagos on
Sunday, 8th February, 1970, at 10.30 a.m. under the auspices of the Christian
Laity of Nigeria.
I feel highly honoured by the Christian Laity of Nigeria for inviting me to
give this lecture on THE ECONOMIC WELL-BEING OF THE INDIVIDUAL. It is the
first in the series of talks, arranged for the next six months, under the
general theme of THE FORCES OF PEACE, RECONSTRUCTION, AND RECONCILIATION.
It is significant that when this programme was arranged by the Christian Laity
in December or earlier, and an invitation was extended to me by their letter
dated 24 December 1969, we were still in the poignant throes of civil
hostilities. Today, by the grace of God, we have put the civil war behind us,
and Nigeria now stands, hopefully and expectantly, on the threshold of a great
and glorious future.
The search for and the mobilisation of the forces of peace, reconstruction,
and reconciliation have begun in real earnest. I have no doubt that we will
succeed. But I hasten to emphasise that we will succeed, only if, from now on,
we make the well-being of every Nigerian citizen, however humble and from
whichever part of the Federation he hails, the cornerstone of all our
individual and collective efforts.
In dealing with the subject of this lecture under the general theme, it is, I
think, essential that we should seek to understand what peace, reconstruction,
reconciliation, and economic well-being connote; how economic well-being can
be achieved, and in what way it can contribute to the objectives of peace,
reconstruction, and reconciliation.
I say this because, unless we have as clear a definition and description as
possible of the objects of our desire before we set out in search of them; our
efforts might be misguided and purposeless. In such circumstance, the chances
are great that we might not recognise the objects of our pursuit when we see
them, and might end up with securing the wrong things - mistaking lead for
It is important to bear in mind that peace is not just an absence or cessation
of hostilities, or a natural and automatic aftermath of military victory. If
it were, it would be superfluous for us to talk about winning the peace after
the end of the civil war. But all of us are only to well aware that the battle
for peace has only just begun.
Peace is, therefore, not just a negative state which notionally and
automatically exists when strife or hostility ceases. No, this is not peace.
On the contrary, peace is a positive state of quiet and tranquility. In the
context of Nigeria, it is a state of inter-state, inter-ethnic, and
inter-tribal harmony and equilibrium.
Thus defined, it is a state which requires the positive, conscious, and
dynamic efforts of Nigerian leaders to bring it into being and sustain it. It
involves the active, conscientious, and persistent promotion and maintenance
of economic prosperity and social justice, in such a manner as to convince and
assure the average Nigerian citizen of their permanent enjoyment.
Like those of war, the seeds of peace must be sown and nurtured in the minds
of men. As long as there are serious doubts in the minds of Nigerian citizens
as to the availability and permanence of economic prosperity and social
justice, so long they will be disposed to civil war, or to its next of
kin-civil strife or communal rioting.
Before and since the end of the civil war, we have heard a good deal about
physical reconstruction, with particular and almost exclusive reference to the
reconstruction of roads, bridges, airports, buildings, market-places and other
such-like material and concrete objects which were damaged during the war. I
know, and I want to assure you, that all the Governments of the Federation are
already busy making gargantuan preparations to the end that every trace,
however slight, of the extensive physical damage done during the war shall be
totally erased within the next year or two. But, if the rebuilding of roads,
bridges, etc. were all that needed to be done, then the task of reconstruction
would be an exceedingly easy proposition. For, Nigeria has the requisite
material and financial, as well as the human resources to tackle these jobs
effectively and expeditiously. In addition, it has a large circle of friendly
countries which are prepared to come to its aid as and when required.
But before we have travelled far on the road of material reconstruction, we
must realise, and do so vividly and truthfully, that the most crucial areas of
reconstruction are the minds of Nigerian citizens on both sides of the
fighting line. In other words, in addition to material reconstruction, there
is an urgent and massive need for moral and spiritual reconstruction as well:
the kind of reconstruction which will help to demolish morbid desire for naked
power and domination; abuse and misuse of power and office; greed,
selfishness, and intolerance; nepotism, favouritism, jobbery, bribery, and
other forms of corruption; and erect, in their places, probity, tolerance,
altruism, and devotion; equality of treatment, justice, equity, and fair play