Chief Awolowo’s Speech to Western leaders of thought


The aim of a leader should be the welfare of the people whom he leads. I have used ‘welfare’ to denote the physical, mental and spiritual well-being of the people. With this aim fixed unflinchingly and unchangeably before my eyes I consider it my duty to Yoruba people in particular and to Nigerians in general, to place four imperatives before you this morning. Two of them are categorical and two are conditional. Only a peaceful solution must be found to arrest the present worsening stalemate and restore normalcy.

The Eastern Region must be encouraged to remain part of the Federation. If the Eastern Region is allowed by acts of omission or commission to secede from or opt out of Nigeria, then the Western Region and Lagos must also stay out of the Federation. The people of Western Nigeria and Lagos should participate in the ad hoc committee or any similar body only on the basis of absolute equality with the other regions of the Federation.

I would like to comment briefly on these four imperatives. There has, of late, been a good deal of sabre rattling in some parts of the country. Those who advocate the use force for the settlement of our present problems should stop a little and reflect. I can see no vital and abiding principle involved in any war between the North and the East. If the East attacked the North; it would be for purpose of revenge pure and simple. Any claim to the contrary would be untenable. If it is claimed that such a war is being waged for the purpose of recovering the real and personal properties left behind in the North by Easterners two insuperable points are obvious. Firstly, the personal effects left behind by Easterners have been wholly looted or destroyed, and can no longer be physically recovered. Secondly, since the real properties are immovable in case of recovery of them can only be by means of forcible military occupation of those parts of the North in which these properties are situated.



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