Former President, Olusegun Obasanjo, yesterday, stated that he was compelled to adjust his three-day birthday celebration to mark his 83rd birthday due to fear of contracting the deadly Coronavirus.
Addressing well-wishers at the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Abeokuta, Obasanjo noted that the birthday celebration organised by the Centre for Human Security and Dialogue of the OOPL was to hold between Tuesday and Friday but had to be 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.”
According to him, they initially considered hosting it in countries like Malaysia, which was worse than Nigeria when it got independence in 1960, as well as South Korea, and Vietnam which was plunged into a series of wars.”
He said, “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.”
Meanwhile, he further explained the reason for James Patterson's absence. Obasanjo noted that the former prime minister of Jamaica was invited to an open discussion on Pan-Africanism, but could not make it due to the outbreak of the virus.
"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," he said.
However, he revealed that the creation of the African Union had been used as an instrument to extend the frontiers of the concept of pan-Africanism to embrace the Africans in the diaspora.
Therefore, he called on the African region to redefine its own democracy, adding that the concept of liberal democracy was a western coinage and idea.
“Can we not have our own democracy that satisfies our needs? He asked.
Hence, he suggested that “Africa needs to define democracy in our own way to satisfy ourselves.”