Obasanjo, prime minister, proffer solutions to problems facing Africa, Caribbean

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Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and Grenadines, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, have expressed their belief on how Africans and Caribbeans can improve on the respective continents’ technical growth.

They both spoke at the 15th Convocation Lecture of Bells University of Technology (BELLSTECH) Ota, Ogun State, over the weekend.

Prime Minister Gonsalves, while speaking at the convocation as the guest lecturer on the theme “Technological Emancipation of Africa in the Digital Space and the Global Drive for Reparations,” stated that he and Obasanjo had recently met and were exchanging ideas about how to further development on both continents.

“Our beloved “Baba” and I have been engaged recently in conversations on the developmental challenges, and their possible solutions, in Africa, the Caribbean, and the wider African diaspora.

“On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Afreximbank we were on stage together with the Bank’s President, Professor Benedict Oramah, in mid-June 2023, in Accra, Ghana, discussing the theme “Delivering the Vision, Building Prosperity for Africans”.

“Six weeks later, on July 30th, Baba Obasanjo, together with the revered elder statesman of Jamaica, Percival J. Patterson, and me were hosted by Prime Minister Mia Mottley of Barbados in a fascinating, and indeed compelling global, discourse under the rubric “Emancipation Conversation: Three Legends, Three Perspectives, One Conversation: Reparations and Beyond.” 

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“Shortly thereafter, Baba honoured the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with a memorable visit to my country. It is now my turn to be with my dearest Brother, his people, the Faculty, the students, and the leadership of Bells University of Technology, including Vice Chancellor Professor Jeremiah Ojediran, here in Ota, Ogun State, Nigeria, the most populous of the 54-member-states of the African Union, and the ancestral homeland of large numbers of the population of our Caribbean, our Diaspora,” Dr. Gonslaves disclosed.

The Prime Minister stated that the subjects of Africa’s technological emancipation in the digital age and the drive, globally, for reparations for native genocide and the enslavement of African bodies “may, at first blush, appear unrelated; such a presumption or conclusion would be erroneous.

“ Indeed, they are profoundly inter-connected in the composite, integrated quest for sustainable development, for the transformation, for the better, optimally, of our lives, livelihoods, and production. Inexorably, they telescope our lived experiences of the past and the present, and our envisaged future which, of all time, is the only one for us to desecrate.

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“Our shared experiences must be translated into shared expressions, institutionally. That is a central reason why I am here with you today. 

“The seventh edition of the UNESCO Science Report, published in 2021, and entitled “the race against time for smarter development”, makes a series of apt pronouncements, including the following: It is striking how development priorities have aligned over the past five years. Countries of all income levels are prioritizing their transition to digital and “green” economies, in parallel. 

“This dual transition reflects a double imperative. On the one hand, the clock is ticking for countries to reach their Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.  On the other, countries are convinced that their future economic development will depend upon how quickly they transition to digital societies.”

Obasanjo, in a statement issued by his  Special Assistant on Media, Kehinde Akinyemi, maintained that Africans and Caribbeans must look to other economic areas to help the continents grow.

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In his convocation speech, Vice Chancellor Prof. Jeremiah Ojediran who revealed that on the National Universities Commission (NUC) and Sub-Sahara universities rankings, the university, which was on “observer status in 2022, is now on Reporters Status in 2023” attributed this to the continuous rise in recognition and small contributions to excellence in service delivery.

“In addition, BELLSTECH now ranks on the 51-60 belt on the sub-Sahara universities ranking and 12 in Nigeria,” with a total of 295 students with 32 with First Class graduating in the outgoing session.

Ojediran charged the graduating students to remember that “the University products are world changers who start the next phase by positively impacting the immediate community.

“ News of our alumni tell how they are glowing as offsprings of this vision. You must go and do likewise. You are the next batch of world changers being presented today. Do not drop the baton,” he added.      

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