Former President Olusegun Obasanjo revealed how the news of coronavirus forced him to adjust his 83rd birthday programme, following clear signal that number of his foreign guests could not make it, because of the outbreak of the disease
Penpushing reports that, Obasanjo made the known on Thursday while speaking at a symposium which was part of his 83rd birthday programme at Marquee Events Centre, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library, Abeokuta, Ogun State Capital.
The former President explained that, the activities were scheduled to hold between Tuesday and Friday but Tuesday and Wednesday programmes were put off ,as a result of the news of the deadly disease, which was spreading like wildfire, hence, need for many of the foreign participants to stay off.
“When we were thinking of this celebration, two programmes came to mind.One was to consider what Asian countries have done to make their continent become what they have become.We had planned a Round-Table discussion which was meant to share lessons from Asia’s development for strengthening Africa’s integration and cooperation in the area of socio-economic development’.
“We had wanted to consider countries like Malasia, which was worse than us when we got our independence in 1960 , South Korea, which was below us and Vietnam which was plunged into series of wars’.
We would have spent day before yesterday and yesterday to really consider how the Asians have risen to greatness and also learnt lessons we could learn from them. However, because of Coronavirus, that programme was shelved because some of the intended participants would not have been able to attend’
“I do hope that sometime in the future, we will be able to bring back such programme. The second programme was the subject of Pan Africanism for which we have invited a former Prime Minister of Jamaica, James Patterson to open discussions.
” When we learnt that Patterson would not be available due to accident , we chose a former President of Serialeone, Bai Koroma, but then, with coronavirus, we had shelve that plan and reach out to a different set of discussants that we have today,” he said.
Penpushing further reports that, Obasanjo on the theme of the symposium”The Place of Pan Africanism In An Emerging World Of Besieged Liberal Democracy”, recalled how African leaders used the instrument of the creation of the African Union (AU) to extend the frontiers of the concept of Pan Africanism to embrace the Africans in diaspora.
The former President called for the African region to redefine its own democracy, pointing out that the concept of liberal democracy was a western coinage and idea, and asked,” Can we not have our own democracy that satisfies our needs?
“I think we can define our own democracy in our own way to satisfy ourselves. When we define our democracy to satisfy our needs, we should elect hues and cry and name callings. We can, however, learn from the experience of a former Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yeuu, whom they called different names when he embarked on transformation of his country in the mid-70s’.
“When Singapore moved from third world to first world, they all shared and bask in the success of Singapore. If we are able to do something not too far away from that but radical enough to meet our needs and we succeed, they will grudgingly accept us but if we do and we fail, we are on our own.
“We must realise that the world will not wait for us and they will not want us to succeed. If we succeed, we would have taken something away, but if we fail, we will be on our own,” Obasanjo emphasised.
The former President advised Africans to be ready for antagonism whenever they are ready to decide and carve out their own definition for democracy, stressing that the region must be steadfast.