Africa still at war against poverty, diseases, ethnic conflicts, underdevelopment, says Jonathan
WorldStage Newsonline-- Despite decades of independence from colonialism, Africa is yet to gain economic freedom, rather it’s still at war against poverty, against diseases, ethnic conflicts and underdevelopment, according to President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria.
Jonathan who spoke at the joint meeting of the House of Parliament of Jamaica, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence, in Kinston, Jamaica said it is high time Africa and other developing countries recommit themselves to liberate the race from economic woes so as to achieve economically what has been achieved politically.
He also stressed the need for cooperation among the developing countries to reduce the level of those artificial forces that have kept the majority of the people from making progress.
He further added that enabling environment that will groom future generations must be created through the consolidation of democracy and good governance.
He said, “The truth is that the Black race is still at war against poverty, against diseases, ethnic conflicts and underdevelopment. This must be addressed.
“Africa is free of colonialism but not totally free because of its economic dependence on others. We therefore still have our work well-defined for us: we must be committed not only to liberating ourselves from economic woes but also to work with other counterparts, the developing nations of the world, to achieve economically what we have achieved politically.
“In a highly globalized and competitive world, states are forming strong regional economic blocs. To promote trade and investments, boundaries are beginning to get narrower and narrower every day. It is for the same reason that we must support one another in tackling the scourge of imbalances in the prevailing global order. As black people, with a common ancestry, we must unite.
“We must unite to fight poverty; We must unite to fight hunger; We must unite to fight diseases; We must unite to fight illiteracy; We must unite to fight bad governance and electoral malpractices; We must unite to fight ethnic conflicts; We must unite to fight dictatorial regimes in Africa; We must unite to fight terrorism; We must unite to secure a place of pride for the Black man in a modern and technology-driven world.”
While stating that recommending a model for the growth of nations is not an easy enterprise as different nations face different challenges, Jonathan said, “but it is my humble belief that democracy, good governance and the rule of law will be the tonic that will revolutionize our economies and technological development.”
He also said that there is the need for Nigeria and Jamaica, and indeed the rest of the world, to work together to reduce the level of those artificial forces that have kept the majority of our people from making progress, adding that “the predicament of the black race is inherently shared by Nigeria with its population of 167 million people.
“The same reason our past leaders took it upon themselves to be part of the fight for the total liberation of African countries from the shackles of colonialism. Our forbears, in Africa and in Diaspora, have done well. We are working very hard. But we have a duty and a responsibility to create, nurture and sustain an environment under which future generations have no other option but to prosper and excel. We can only do this through the consolidation of democracy and good governance.
“Within the context of a new world order, Jamaica is potentially gifted to create for herself, a redefined role in the pursuit of economic development within the emerging new World Order. Where will Jamaica be in the next 50 years? Where will Africa be in the next 50 years? What is the future of the black man or woman in the world in the next 50 years? This should be our pre-occupation. That is our challenge, as we celebrate this Golden anniversary.
“There are new realities to which working with Jamaica, Nigeria will further commit herself. These include new trends of global economic slowdown and security concerns. These are global issues of our time. Our roles must be complementary. Nigeria and Jamaica must work together to make a difference and increase the fortunes of our people. As leaders we cannot afford to disappoint our people and future generations.”
“Let me at this point sincerely appreciate what this great country of Jamaica is doing in this regard. To have a female Prime Minister elected even for a second term, demonstrates clearly the advanced level of democracy in your country. I congratulate you and I congratulate my dear sister, The Most Honourable Portia Simpson Miller, for being the first female Head of Government of this great country.
“There is a unifying vision that Nigeria and Jamaica share. There is ample scope for even greater and more functional co-operation between our two countries. The opportunities for increased trade and investments are immense. We must take advantage of them to build and strengthen our ties. Jamaica was one of the first countries to which Nigeria sent her first set of Technical Aid Volunteers in 1989.
“ We also have a Cultural Agreement with Jamaica signed in 1991, which provided for the exchange of information on the culture and the arts of both countries. I recall, very vividly, Jamaica’s effective participation at the Second World Black and African Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC) in Lagos in 1977. A Centre for Black and African Arts and Civilization (CBAAC) has since been established to consolidate the achievements of FESTAC ’77. I intend to discuss with the Hon. Prime Minister, ways and means of developing an interaction between the Centre and similar structures in Jamaica to further improve our technical cooperation in cultural matters.
“ I also must affirm the role that both Jamaica and Nigeria, in concert with other countries, have played in the quest for a new world order that is more equitable and just. We have done this together over the decades, especially within the United Nations, the G77, the Commonwealth and the Movement of Non-Aligned Countries (NAM) and in other multilateral bodies where through determined action, we have made a difference. We must continue to press ahead with such collaboration at the multilateral level.”
Hailing the Jamaican spirit as “a fine example of how a people can turn handicaps into opportunities and challenges into narratives of success, Jonathan said, “the strength, resilience and durability of Jamaica’s freedom and democracy speak for themselves and are to be found within this setting. Over the years, especially since Independence in 1962, this country of great men and women has built and nurtured very strong democratic norms as a foundation for inclusive nationhood.”
He further added that “as Jamaica moves ahead, Nigeria stands with her and her people and will continue to work with you. Jamaica has always been a reliable partner in progress among the developing nations especially of African descent. It has always been a source of hope that has given support to the cause of the developing world and the black race in particular. Having come along so far, and so gloriously, and to this point in your 50 years of Independence, you can only move forward with greater expectations and successes not only from your people but from the world.
“The people of Jamaica can only be prosperous living together in peace and harmony within the context of a peaceful world. There is much that Jamaica and Nigeria can do together to promote and sustain the democratic ethos and culture, beyond our respective countries, along with those with whom we share affinity and a common cause. We must put together, frameworks for action to support needed collaboration in this vital area. We must also work together to secure and guarantee human, civil and other basic rights that support nation building.
“In a clear sense, these are the same rights that we celebrate today. These are the same passions that underpin both Emancipation and Independence. They are the same values at the heart of the Black Heritage. But if I may locate the present in the context of our past, the question should be asked: is the Black man really free today?”