The new statue of the first premier of the Western Region of Nigeria, Chief Awolowo, who played a key role in Nigeria’s independence movement, has sparked criticism from Nigerians.
Awolowo’s statue was inaugurated on Tuesday by the Lagos State Governor, Akinwumi Ambode, who said it was in recognition of his “good legacies “, describing his works as the template for measuring progressive governance in the country.
The statue, which is situated on Awolowo Road, by the Lagos Television junction in Ikeja, Lagos, was said to be lacking in creativity and aesthetics in its depiction of the late sage.
However, a large number of social media users and public affairs commentators have taken a swipe at the statue, saying it was a misrepresentation of the mannerism that the late sage was known for.
On Twitter, one Julius Umogbai, expressed disappointment at the way the image was moulded.
“That Obafemi Awolowo statue, with those funny shoes, is terrible. I would have preferred something hip, like Timberland, for Baba,” he wrote.
Prince Adedeji, who also said he had seen the statue, stated on his Twitter handle, @Lil_Balo…, that it was a “very fake Awolowo statue.”
On Facebook, Samuel Agaji said the beauty of the statue was undermined by the ambience of its location.
He said, “Nice statue, but no one seemed mindful of the ugly crisscross of the PHCN cables in the background! It has marred the aesthetics and the beauty of it all. Such statues are better situated in the centre of a garden or park. Town planners, be mindful please!”
Another Facebook user, Idrees Aboobaqar, wrote, “Why is he seated? A fighter should be standing. This statue depicts the late federalist in a wrong way.”
Charles Kehinde Alasholuyi also blamed Ambode on his timeline for the perceived flaws in the statue.
“So, according to Gov. Ambode, Pa Awolowo wore shoes with a shoelace on agbada abi? WehDonSir (well done, sir).
“Anyway, Pa Awolowo stood for justice all through his lifetime, and not this sitting Baale with shoelace.”
A rights activist, Mr. Olufemi Aduwo, said the statue made a mockery of Awolowo’s elegance, noting that he should have been depicted as an active lawyer or a premier, presenting a speech while standing.
He said, “That is not Awolowo’s statue; it is fake. When it was put in the paper two days ago, the look of his daughter (Dr Tokunbo Dosunmu-Awolowo) was like, ‘this is not my father.’ You put buckled shoes on his legs and one agbada on top of the shoes. It does not resemble Awolowo in any way. It is a different thing entirely. Why should he sit down?
“For what Awolowo has done for Yoruba race, people will always praise him and accord him respect. One has already been built in Allen Roundabout. Ikeja. I think there are many people in Lagos who have done so well and can be remembered.
“People just go to look for relatives to come and do things instead of engaging experts. It is a waste of resources and it does not even resemble Awolowo.”
The spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party in Lagos, Mr. Gani Taofik, lauded Ambode for immortalising the former premier but called for the remodelling of the statue.
He said, “From what I have read (in the news) concerning the statue, it is not a true representation of our late sage. The idea is genuine and in good faith to promote the late sage. The essential thing for Governor Ambode, who many people have said did it to promote himself as an awoist, is for him to hear these criticisms and make amends immediately. Anything outside that can be interpreted to mean that Chief Obafemi Awolowo has become a statue to be ridiculed.
“We will advise that the government should remove the statue and put in place a type that is generally accepted. The first one at the Allen Roundabout was rebuilt because it was criticised as not bearing any resemblance to the late sage.”
Chief Obafemi Awolowo, a Nigerian nationalist and statesman played a key role in Governance, the First and Second Republics and the Civil War. He was the first premier of the Western Region and later Federal Commissioner for finance and vice chairman of Federal Executive Council during the civil war.