President Muhammadu Buhari has asserted that the problem with Africa as a continent and her member-nations remains implementation and not in planning, as various legislative bodies bring out good proposals while the executive arm fails in their implementation.
He added that it was obvious that the executive arms and legislative chambers would easily encounter well-drafted documents and initiatives, but implementing those proposals poses the problem.
Buhari, who made the remark while declaring open the 48th Conference of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) Africa Region, held at Imo Trade and Investment Centre, Owerri on Saturday, added that, “what we need to consistently do now is to put action behind our visions and missions as time is no longer on our side, as the countdown to 2063 has long started”.
He continued, “The theme of this 48th CPA Conference, African Agenda 2063: Vision Master Plan, presents yet another crucial reflection point for those who today have the privilege of being Africa political elite. The Agenda 2063 spelt out a vision of an Africa that is prosperous, integrated, peaceful, secured and a continent that recognises the full potential of its human capital and as a respected player on the global stage”.
The President, who was represented by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, stressed “The Africa we want is an Africa that works for its people, one that ensures that Africans can enjoy decent standard of living and security, freedom and one where men and women have equal assets and treatment, with respect to all economic, political and social good”.
He added “Distinguished legislators, the power and the responsibility for rewriting the story of Africa lies in our hands; the people of our various countries have elected us to chart a course to the Africa that they want and desire. Our democracy serves no purpose if it does not advance the well-being of our people because we were elected to think, plan and act for the interest of the majority. We will be charlatans of the greatest order if our leadership does not provide for the present and secure the future of those that elected us”.
The President further remarked “I must commend the Governor of Imo State, Owelle Rochas Okorocha for the leadership he has shown and for the great work he is doing in Imo State, and for his excellent hospitality always. In the true spirit of African brotherhood and spirit, Imo State has in the past two weeks hosted not less than three African-centred international gatherings including the visit of two African heads of State”.
Governor Okorocha in his speech at the event said, “one day Africa will sing a new song and we believe one day, we shall occupy our rightful place in the comity of nations. Therefore your meeting this time is apt and timely. It is a struggle to find the way forward for the African nations”.
He continued “But one thing I have come to realise is that there is nothing wrong with Africa but there is something slightly wrong in our attitude and the way we do things. But I’m further worried by the fact that if we do not act quickly under the present ugly situation which our condition points out to us, we might be destroying the psyche of the generations of Africans yet unborn”.
For him “We are passing through a very difficult moment which many great nations of the world have passed through and we are not an exemption but we will one day in this our lifetime take our rightful place. My concern is about the youths of Africa. It might be shocking to all of you to know that African youths are so frustrated. We have not lived up to expectation of what we can do for the African Child. That will also anchor on my feelings that education must be given its rightful place if the youths of Africa must find and take up their positions”.
He added “I therefore appeal to you the lawmakers when you go home that you legislate on the issues that will impact positively on the youths of Africa. Legislate for free education so that the children of the poorest of the poor can go to school. The essence of democracy is good governance and to equip our people for a better future. Every President of a place in Africa should see himself as a father and every first lady as a mother to be instruments to provide education to their children”.
President of CPA and Speaker Imo State House of Assembly, Rt. Hon. Acho Ihim, said, “A well-established strategy is crucial to the development and performance of any organisation because it is a plan that integrates its major goals, policies and actions into a cohesive whole. I am sure that if we are able to match our vision with actions our vision plan can be achieved”.
His words, “We, as parliaments, must do our best to move beyond conferences, and ensure that some of the laudable outcomes of the numerous conferences have direct impacts on the development of the African continent”.
In a related development, President Buhari on Friday in Istanbul, Turkey, said African leaders must speak ‘with one voice,’ devoid of foreign influence, to achieve economic integration, development, peace, and security on the continent.
The president, according to a statement by his spokesman, Malam Garba Shehu, made the remark while speaking at a bilateral meeting with President Alpha Conde of Guinea, saying leaders should learn from history to effectively tackle conflicts, violent extremism, and proliferation of small arms and light weapons.
The two presidents, according to the statement, met on the sidelines of the ninth D8 Summit in Istanbul, exchanged views on bilateral relations as well as regional and international issues of mutual interest.
It said Buhari assured his Guinean counterpart, who is also the current Chairman of AU that Nigeria would continue to strengthen its engagement with all AU member states to address current security challenges in restive areas such as South Sudan and Libya, and the political crisis in Togo.
It added that Conde, in his remarks, praised Nigeria’s leadership on the continent, particularly Buhari’s anti-corruption war and his strong voice on African issues on the international stage.
“The Guinean leader stressed the need for Guinea and Nigeria to accelerate economic cooperation, particularly in the natural resources sector, where Guinea boasts of 25 per cent or more of the world’s known bauxite reserves,” the statement added.
The President also on Saturday pledged the commitment of his administration to ensure that all the past glory of the education sector are restored in order to enable it meet the world agreed standard.
He however said he had directed the Minister of Education to convene a ministerial summit that would assist the administration to address the issue.
Speaking at the grand finale of the 33rd convocation of University of Ilorin, Kwara state yesterday, Buhari said, “The meeting would be convened within the next few weeks and to be attended by all cabinet members, with the sole aim to restore education to its lead role of human development game-changer.”
Represented by the Executive Secretary of the National Universities Commission (NUC), Prof. Abdulrasheed Abubakar, Buhari, “My government will not allow the country to miss globally-agreed sustainable development goals (SDGs) train, the driving force of which is education. Any success recorded in education will have a ripple effect on every other sector of our national life.”
The president, who said the government was aware of challenges confronting the nation’s education sector, lamented that fortunes of the sector had nosedived in the past couple of decades.
Part of the problems he said included millions of school-age children who are out of school, high adult and youth illiteracy rates as well as low enrolment, participation and completion rates at all levels and forms of education.
“The menace goes on to the menace of poor performance in public examinations, regional socioeconomic and gender disparities in access as well as highly disturbing unemployability of graduates of the education system”, he said.
He said sustainable human development began with education, and added that it was the fuel that energised development efforts in every other human endeavour.
He commended the management of the University for sustaining peaceful and harmonious environment, especially on the decades of uninterrupted academic calendar.
He said the university had stood out among its peers in this regard, adding that the achievements recorded by the university had given assurance that the invested resources by government had not been in vain.
Highlight of the event was the award of scholarship by the university to two best graduates, male and female and two worst graduates, male and female in the 2016/2017 academic sessions to study in Oxford, United Kingdom.
The announcement was made by the Registrar of the university, Mr. Emmanuel Obafemi, during the grand finale of the convocation. The registrar said the cumulative grade performance aggregate (CGPA) determined the beneficiaries.
The scholarship awards was presented to the graduates by an international scholar, chair and founder of Excellence in Education Programme, Oxford, UK, Prof. Chris Imafidon.