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.”