The President of the African Development Bank, Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, has been announced as the winner of the 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership.
The Chairman of the Selection Committee, Emeka Anyaoku, disclosed this at a press conference held in Gbagada Phase 2, Lagos State, on Thursday.
Anyaoku said since the commencement of the Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership in 2013, three distinguished personalities had so far been conferred with the award, saying Adesina would be the fourth recipient.
According to him, the award was an initiative of the Obafemi Awolowo Foundation, which was set up in April 1992 to serve as the custodian of the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo’s intellectual and leadership legacy.
He said the award “was established as an independent, non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to immortalising the democratic and development-oriented ideals of Chief Obafeni Awolowo.”
While describing Awolowo as a Pan-African nationalist of global repute, Anyaoku described the award as “a prestigious, biennial, international prize structured to follow a rigorous process of nomination and subsequent screening by a selection committee consisting of some of the most outstanding Nigerians.”
In line with the relevant guidelines for the selection of candidates for the award, Anyaoku noted that nominations were received about many eminent persons who have made tremendous contributions in various spheres of life.
“After a careful, detailed and rigorous screening process, the selection committee was unanimous in deciding the recipient of this year’s prize. I have great pleasure easure to inform you that the considered view of the selection committee is that, of all the nominees presented before it, the person adjudged to possess the attributes for the award to the highest degree and therefore, the recipient of the 2023 Obafemi Awolowo Prize for Leadership is Dr. Akinwunmi Ayodeji Adesina, CON, President of the African Development Bank,” he said.
Adesina, a former Nigerian Minister of Agriculture in the administration of former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, was described by Anyaoku as “a Pan-Africanist with enthusiastic commitment to the positive transformation of the continent,” who he said had demonstrated core leadership qualities that had been associated with Chief Obafemi Awolowo, and which this prize is meant to encourage and reward.”
As Minister of Agriculture in Nigeria, Anyaoku recalled that Adesina introduced innovative reforms such as the fertilizer sector reforms, “which virtually eliminated corruption in the sector and ensured that farmers actually benefitted from government’s subsidized fertilizers.
“He developed a system that allowed farmers to receive electronic vouchers for seeds and fertilizers directly on their mobile phones, thereby cutting off the middlemen in the system. Not less than 15 million farmers benefitted from this scheme within four years.
“Since assuming office as President of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Dr. Adesina has worked relentlessly to contribute to the positive transformation of the continent. He has brought leadership to bear in addressing some of the challenges confronting the continent including leading and supporting innovative efforts to fight hunger and poverty.”
It was disclosed that the award would be presented to Adesina on March 6, 2024, which is Awolowo’s birth anniversary.
Speaking at the unveiling, Afenifere leader, Ayo Adebanjo, said Nigerians needed to stop supporting poor leadership and keep government on their toes.
Adebanjo expressed concern that youths of nowadays turn supporters to “election riggers” the moment they are appointed as personal assistants.
The nonagenarian said he had continued to fight for a better Nigeria because of the youths.
“Those of us in the struggle today don’t stand to gain anything. I am still in the trenches at 95, to gain what? To send children to school or for what?”
He vowed to fight the Nigerian cause till he breathed his last, saying he did not believe in parties that have no ideology.
“A lot of those who are ruling you now are rogues personified,” he declared.