By Adejoke Adeleye
Obasanjo, while speaking at his birthday lecture in Abeokuta, Ogun State, titled, “The place of Pan-Africanism in an Emerging World of Besieged Liberal Democracy,” said there were supposed to be two events before the lecture, which would bring three ex-Presidents but that due to coronavirus, they had to cancel it because of the disease which had taken over the world.
According to him, “When we were thinking of this celebration, two programmes came to mind. One was to see what Asian countries have done to make their continent become what they have become, for instance, Malaysia, which was worse than us when we got independence; South Korea which was below us and Vietnam which was plunged into series of wars.
“We would have spent the day before yesterday and yesterday to really consider how the Asians have risen to greatness.
And what lessons we could learn from them but because of Coronavirus, that programme was shelved. Some of them were not able to make it.”
He said: “I do hope that sometimes in future we would be able to bring it up again because there is a lot to learn about what they have done and how they have done it.”
On the lecture, the former president said “Some people will be saying what has Pan-Africanism got to do with us in Nigeria? We have the problem of insecurity; we have the problem of restructuring and all other problems, so what has Pan-Africanism got to do with us?”
“But I am saying Pan-Africanism has a lot to do with us, no matter what we do or our present situation. That is why I am particularly happy that we have some of our traditional rulers here today and we also have some of the victims of policies that are good and the ones that are bad.
“We have gotten all the definition that we can have about Pan-Africanism, but the only call I want to make is this, Pan-Africanism is different from African unity.”
He added: “It goes beyond African unity and to prove that, when our leader in 1963 established the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) they did not reckon with Pan-Africanism as such to the extent that no body outside the continent of Africa was considered to be part of the OAU.
“When at the end of 20th century we decided to re – establish or transform OAU to AU, we decided that instead of five regions which made up of OAU; West Africa, North Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and Southern Africa, we created the sixth region which is the Diaspora Africa.
“Therefore, we made AU to go beyond the continent of Africa and to embrace the Africans in diaspora. So, we moved from African Unity to African Union, which means we are not only talking about Africans on the continent of Africa, but also Africans outside the continent of Africa. I think that’s very important and that’s why we should talk about Pan-Africanism, what it means and what it can do.”
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