Philosophy For Independent Nigeria

By Obafemi Awolowo

A lecture delivered by Chief Obafemi Awolowo (Action Group (AG) Leader, and Leader of Opposition in the Nigerian Federal Parliament) to Nigerian Students at Conway Hall, London, on 3rd September, 1961


Politically, the independence of a country can be viewed from two angles: the corporate and the individual angle. A country is said to be free only when it has unqualified control over its internal affairs. On the other hand, a citizen of an independent country enjoys individual freedom when he is free to say and do what he likes, subject only to laws enacted by the freely elected parliament or the popular legislative assembly of the land. The dependency of a country and the subjection of its citizens to alien rule are conterminous. But the independence of a country does not necessarily mean the freedom of its individual citizens. It all depends on the form of government. If, for instance, the form of government is oligarchical, authoritarian, or totalitarian, individual freedom will almost invariably be denied to the masses of the people. The point must be made, however, that in times of national crisis or emergency, it is legitimate for the Government to call upon the citizens to surrender, for the duration, some measure of their individual freedom, in order that the freedom of the country and its citizens may be preserved from violation. In a democracy, therefore, and in normal circumstances, the freedom of a country connotes the freedom of its individual citizens. Furthermore, when the freedom of a country is looked at in its complete functional embodiment, it exhibits two conspicuous and inseparable facets. They are the political and economic facets. A country can only be said to be truly free and independent which has these two functional facets co-existing and cohering in their inseparable absoluteness.


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