A former United States ambassador to Nigeria, Walter Carrington, on Monday said Nigeria needs to address the marginalisation of women and the poor to attain sustainable development.
Mr. Carrington made this known in Victoria Island, Lagos, while delivering a lecture at the launch of ‘Defend the Defenseless’, a book written by his wife, Arese Carrington.
The lecture, titled “Nigeria and Africa in a changing world”, was put together by the Lagos State Government.
The former diplomat served as U.S. ambassador to Nigeria between 1993 and 1997 under the regime of the late dictator, Sani Abacha.
He is reputed to be a fearless diplomat who spoke against the government’s tyranny, even in the face of threats and intimidation, including assassination attempts.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Carrington said while autocracy in every aspect of the nation’s public system must be replaced with democracy, the issues of poverty and patriarchy must be effectively tackled to facilitate growth and development.
He lamented the poor representation of women in the nation’s governance system, saying a nation that ignores the productive capacity of half its population cannot thrive.
He also spoke on youth empowerment.
“We must also give more hope to the youth population,” the former diplomat said, adding that “the youth should have a say in the formulation of policies that affect them.”
Mr. Carrington lamented the fact that foreign media often cover Africa to report its calamities, saying the continent is still seen as a continent of the poor while parts of the world still regard ’54 African nations as one country.’
He, however, added that Nigeria must get it right because of its potential, adding that the nation’s prosperity will go a long way in correcting the stereotypical representation of Africa in foreign media.
Making reference to the United Nation’s (2017) Economic Report and PriceWatersCoopers’ report on the growth potential of the nation, the former diplomat said he was optimistic about the success of Nigeria.
He, also, added that the nation must also focus on inclusive development that address and capture the concerns of every strata of the Nigerian society, saying growth may not ordinarily translate to development, especially at the grassroots.
The book launch/public lecture was attended by Lagos State’ Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, represented by the Secretary to the State Government, Tunji Bello; Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka; business magnate, Fola Adeola; Oba of Lagos, Rilwan Akinolu, among others.
In her address, author of the book, Mrs. (Arese) Carrington, called on all humans to defend the defenceless, adding that the advocacy for gender equality must also be sustained.