Ghanaian President John Mahama points way to African prosperity in UNILORIN Lecture

Posted by Theresa Moses, Ilorin | 24 October 2015 | 2,872 times

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President John Dramani Mahama of Ghana says many mistook the goal of liberation from colonial rule to be true freedom. “The definition of true freedom is ever-shifting, one that changes with the times, with the advances in technology; with the adjustments of societal and cultural norms. True freedom is not one thing but many disparate things,” he said yesterday at the University of Ilorin (UNILORIN) in Nigeria’s north-central Kwara State.

The the Ghanaian leader was speaking in a lecture titled ‘Africa’s Agenda 2063: Ending Poverty and Enduring Prosperity in Africa’ – one of the highlights on the final day of a week-long series of activities marking the 40th Anniversary/31st Convocation Lecture of UNILORIN.

He said: “The absence of freedom is what drives us to leave our lands, what compels dozens of individuals to brave the harshest and most dangerous conditions in order to cross the Mediterranean Sea to enter Europe, or to queue for countless hours each day in front of non-African embassies praying to be granted a visa so that we can depart our homelands. The absence of freedom is the absence of hope for anything better; the absence of opportunities in order to change the circumstances of one’s life. It is the absence of faith in our leadership, in the way our nations are governed, and in the institutions that are meant to raise us up. True freedom is something that so many of our people do not have. And that must change. We must make it change.”

Continuing, Mahama said: “In 2013, on the 50th Anniversary of the African Union, the heads of its member-states came together in an attempt to answer those very questions. What we came up with was an agenda, a roadmap to guide our individual nations and the continent as a whole, on the next phase of our journey towards an independence that is based on self-sufficiency, economic stability and the eradication of poverty, gender equality, peace and social justice, ethnic, racial and religious tolerance and harmony. These are all huge goals and, perhaps, in their more abstract and general form, they might seem even huger than they actually are. But I sincerely believe that they are all, ultimately, achievable.

“We have broken them down into eight basic priority areas: African identity and renaissance; the struggle against colonialism and the right to self-determination of people still under colonial rule; the integration agenda; the agenda for social and economic development; the agenda for peace and security; democratic self-governance; determining Africa’s destiny; and, Africa’s place in the world. There is strength in unity. We know this. Africa as a whole learned this long ago, during the era of liberation when one nation after another fought for, and won, its independence.  From country to country, we inspired and energised one another with our dreams, our actions, and our refusal to lose sight of our ultimate goal.”

The Ghanaian President noted that Africa is known as being the most resource-rich continent in the world. “But when people say this, they are usually referring to our gold and silver, our diamonds and bauxite, our oil and the numerous other resources that are contained and found in the earth,” he said.

According to him, “What is often overlooked or not spoken of with the same weight and urgency is our people. And the people of Africa are, by and large, our most valuable resource. Much has been written and spoken about the rest of the world’s use and misuse of Africa’s resources. Figures are even placed in those statements. When it comes to those other resources, we can measure our losses in very specific amounts. We know the worth of our oil, the worth of our gold, our cocoa, our diamonds, and our Colton. But what of our people? What is the worth of our people? What of the Africans who travel abroad and build up other nations with their originality and creativity? What of the young people who were raised on African soil, the would-be scholars who leave our land to study, live and work in other nations on other continents; the doctors and lawyers, writers and actors, businessmen and innovators, who take their talents elsewhere and never return? Why is it that we don’t measure the loss of those resources in specific amounts?

“For us to be able to educate our own people here on our own soil, for them to stay and to combine their God-given talents with the knowledge and training that they’d gained in order to better their communities, our communities, that was no small feat.  When institutions such as this one to, year after year, graduate a large number of diversely skilled individuals, it makes a huge difference. It changes the face of a nation. It changes its rate of development. It places the nation and, by extension the continent, firmly on the path of true progress.”

President Mahama paid tribute to UNILORIN for what it has achieved in its 40 years of existence. “Look at what the process of education has done to this country,” he said. “Nigeria has produced world-class professionals, some of the best in their fields. Look at the doctors, businessmen, IT people, bankers, writers, actors, filmmakers, educators and lawyers, that this nation has gifted the world.”

•Photo by Theresa Moses shows President Mahama delivering his lecture . . . yesterday at UNILORIN.

Source: News Express

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