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In Dialogue With The Self, Owolawi provides template for nation building


At a time when the Nigerian Project, especially its socio-political and economic realities, seems to be foundering and destined for wreckage, an urgent need for thinkers has become expedient.

While many have come with differing solutions of what they think can salvage the messy situation, lack of adequate information have stood as challenge. With Wahab Owolawi’s Dialogue With The Self, Nigeria has got a treasure trove of ideas wrapped in a book that can be of immeasurable help if utiilised. In fact, the book stokes an interest in wanting to know if there’s more to the physical and material self.

In the book, Owolawi takes his readers on a journey of self-discovery. He invites his readers to open their minds, hearts and souls to unlock the door to their true selves.

Of the many qualities of Owolawi’s philosophical book, a first time reader will not, but be pleased with the lucidity of thoughts captured in its various segments.

This is quite remarkable if you consider the book’s nature: A highly philosophical book is often at the lower rung of preference for most readers, especially in this age of transitory attention span. Essentially, the book captures the quest of Operosus, in search of enlightenment, in the land of Niyod, whose leader, as his people, warmly welcomes.

As he has been generously shown the illuminating secret of nation building by the people of Niyod, Operosus decides to capture those remarkable ideas in a book so that others, too, could glean from them.

Structurally, Dialogue With The Self, owes a debt to Plato’s The Republic, with its dialogic presentation, and also, in terms of thematic preoccupations, as it is a reflection on the modes of governance of the state and the character of the human self in that state.

In all, there are 17 dialogues, which variously touch on enlightenment, political system ideology, gender issue, fairness and equity, environment, love and service, religion, fairness and equity, self-reliance, collective inspiration and others.

Before the dialogues ensue, a prologue, titled, The parliament, helps to frame the succeeding ideas. It is here that the man, literally and figuratively in search of the knowledgeable Golden Fleece, meets with his host and gets introduced to the leaders and systems of governance of the state. Thereafter, the intellectually stimulating conversations begin on an observatory note by Yit, who tells his eager-to-learn visitor, that “words like excellency and honourable” should be dispensed with, as everyone is entitled to being honourable “by dint of hardwork and impeccable ideas.” It is also here that he learns, as the readers will learn, that “enlightenment is nothing but a state of awareness.”

Being aware, in terms of knowledge acquisition and the employment of such knowledge in the service of the collective rather than the individual, should be prerequisite to being considered for leadership according to the template of Niyod.

Drawing inferences from the Greek Philosopher, Plato, Yit states that a land prospers when great thinkers rule it.

He says, “in the land of the enlightened ones, prosperity is a common phenomenon and the issue of security hardly crosses the minds of the people. Tolerance, understanding, tranquility, and respect for human dignity, irrespective of gender, and well-fashioned personal philosophies, are at their apogee. Individual efforts are linked to the collective…. The state truly belongs to the people.”

These preceding remarks by Yit will not only enthrall the imagination of the traveller, but also ignite his inquisitive tendencies.

Brimming with vigour, he asks various questions that form the next 16 dialogues of the book. In reading through the dialogues, one meets with some of the time tested reflections of great philosophers and thinkers of the past, like Immanuel Kant, Lao Tsu, Khahlil Gibron, and even Jesus and Mohammed.

At the end of the dialogues, two introspective epilogues follow. Titled, Dialogue with the Self and Language of the Soul, they serve as reflections of the knowledge-seeking journeyman on the remarkable ideas he has just been introduced to at Niyod.

These reflections, alongside the wisdom-imbued dialogues, are bound to cause positive changes in the political trajectories of any nation. Nigerian leaders, and all aspiring leaders, surely need the guide, which Owolawi’s book, is providing.

Perhaps, there could be a charge of utopian against Owolawi in his book as many a reader can find some of the ideas posited as somewhat too good to be true for human societies. However, like most philosophical books, the intention is mainly to provide a template, which can be adapted by political state in search of genuine improvements in all facets of governance.

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