Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, has launched a new foundation which he said is aimed at tackling Africa’s socio-economic security problems.
At a formal launching in London on Saturday, Mr. Obasanjo said the “Obasanjo Foundation” will provide the platform to tackle critical problems underlying Africa’s human security, particularly in the areas of food, economy, health, security and gender equality.
Witnessed by President Goodluck Jonathan, and his counterparts from Ghana, Liberia and Benin Republic, Mr. Obasanjo said the problems impeding the continent’s economic growth must be addressed through the Feed Africa Initiative, FAI, girl child education, youth empowerment and employment as well as health improvement initiative under the foundation.
“The initiatives of the foundation are those that I feel passionately about and have dedicated my life to work for their advancement,” the former president said. “These initiatives are critical to the advancement of human security for my people can only progress in life when they are not hungry, when they are educated, and when jobs can be obtained by the youth of a nation.”
Mr. Obasanjo said the inspiration to establish the foundation was from his desire to do good, and he was convinced it would help leave a positive legacy throughout Africa.
The former president, who also stressed the need for Africa to key into the global trend, called for change in the old order of doing the same thing all the time and expecting progress, saying it is important to key into change to have better advantages for development.
While noting the role of women in change, he called for more encouragement for women in agriculture, food distribution, and marketing in Africa, pointing out that as a member of Empower Women in Agriculture, EWA, he was convinced empowering women in agriculture, food distribution and marketing would help solve Africa’s food crisis.
At the launch, President Jonathan and his counterparts from Ghana, Liberia and Benin Republic restated their commitments to tackle illiteracy in their countries.
Mr. Jonathan acknowledged education as the bedrock of national development, pointing out that for Nigeria to move forward economically, and provide jobs for the youths, education must be taken seriously.
He advocated for the provision of the necessary education and exposure to modern technology to our youths to enhance their capacity to perform at work and compete in the marketplace.
He identified the various intervention programmes of the federal government aimed at tackling illiteracy and unemployment in Nigeria, including the “YOU-WIN” project”, established to encourage young entrepreneurs with exceptional business ideas to realize their dreams.
The Liberian President, Ellen Sirleaf, also stressed the need to empower the youths through education and skill acquisition, while decrying the poor level of girl-child education in Africa.
Ms. Sirleaf advocated for strong leadership and economic policies that are sustainable to drive education in the continent.
Ghanaian President, John Mahama, and Beninoise President, Boni Yayi also supported the call for universal basic education to form the basis for sound education background for the youths.
Yayi said with more than 70 per cent of Benin’s population being the youths, his country looks forward to benefiting from the Obasanjo’s foundation which aimed at promoting education in Africa.
President Mahama emphasized the need for peace and stability in Africa, saying these would provide the basis of for all human development, pointing out that this has become compelling and urgent as Africa strives to catch up with the rest of the world in boosting the standard of living of the people.
Though he noted that Africa was on a steady path to development, especially with the contribution of the Diaspora community, who provide a pool of skilled people whose return to Africa has been a bonus, Mahatma said the continent can tap from their wealth of experience in various fields, ranging from education, health and even waste management.’ ‘