Former President Olusegun Obasanjo has said the fear of contracting COVID – 19 which has spread across the world compelled him to adjust his three- day birthday .
Obasanjo said this on Thursday , while addressing well wishers at his 83 birthday celebration held at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library , Abeokuta . Ogun State has recorded one index of the deadly disease when an Italian visited a company in Ewekoro for a business consultation .
The birthday celebration , organised by the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue of the OOPL , was to hold between Tuesday and Friday but was compressed into one day.
He said , “ When we were thinking of this celebration , two programmes came to mind .
“ We had planned a round -table discussion to share lessons from Asia ’ s development for strengthening Africa ’ s integration and cooperation in the area of socio- economic development .
“We had wanted to consider countries like Malaysia , which was worse than us when we got our independence in 1960 , South Korea , which was below us and Vietnam which was plunged into a series of wars.
“ We would have spent day before yesterday and yesterday to consider how the Asians have risen to greatness and the lessons we could learn from them .
But , because of coronavirus , that programme was shelved as some of the intended participants would not have been able to attend . ”
Obasanjo further added that he had invited a former prime minister of Jamaica, James Patterson , to open discussions on Pan- Africanism .
He said , “ When we learnt that Patterson would not be available due to accident , we chose a former President of Sierra Leone, Bai Koroma, but then with coronavirus , we had to shelve that plan and reach out to a different set of discussants that we have today . ”
The former President recalled how African leaders used the instrument of the creation of the African Union to extend the frontiers of the concept of pan- Africanism to embrace the Africans in diaspora.
Obasanjo called on the African region to redefine its own democracy , adding that the concept of liberal democracy was a western coinage and idea .
He said , “ Can we not have our own democracy that satisfies our needs?
“ I think we can define our own democracy in our own way to satisfy ourselves . ”
“ We must realise that the world will not wait for us and they will not want us to succeed . ”
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