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Insecurity preventing Africa from reaching full potential – Experts say at UBS Int’l Conference

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…Warn against recolonisation due to excessive borrowing

By Gabriel Chy Alonta

The issues relating to African development and security challenges confronting the region were the crux of discussions at the 2021 Unizik Business School (UBS) Hybrid International Conference.

The event, held at ASUU-NAU Secretariat Auditorium on Thursday, was themed, “Development and Sustainability of African Economies: The Security Challenge”, Orient Daily reports. 

In a presentation, the guest speaker, a professor of International Human Rights Law, Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy, Tufts University, Medford, Massachusetts, United States, Chidi Odinkalu, cited many countries in Africa with lots of endowment but are prevented from realising their full potential due to insecurity. 

Odinkalu, a former chairman, National Human Rights Commission, Abuja, faulted the demographic arrangement of Nigeria, decrying that Nigeria’s 2.3 per cent annual population with merely 0.2 per cent growth rate was worrisome.

He warned of the impending consequences of this uncontrolled population growth. He argued that issues of Boko Haram, banditry, and so on, were symptoms of insecurity occasioned by disconnect between governance and development.

He said most governors and leaders in the South East lack the political authority to operate in a democracy, alleging that the leaders were corrupt.

He said some of the violence experienced in Nigeria and beyond were as a result of inadequate attention to human security, which, according to him, is sacrosanct.

He said, “we are impoverishing the country because our leaders focus on building structures, and forget to build human beings to run those institutions; we build systems and neglect attitudes to maintain them; we invest less in community and pay a lesser attention to our shared culture of governance.

“How can development be guaranteed in such a system and institution?”, he queried. He then called for leadership transformation in Africa, and emphasised the import of keeping right demographic measurement and data.

The Lead paper presenter, Prof. C. B. N. Ogbogbo, said violence in Africa was worrisome, noting that non-state actors were the major purveyors of violence in Africa. He warned against religious fundamentalism and implored youths to bridle their excesses by avoiding hazardous emigration routes. He faulted the excessive borrowing by African leaders, and entertained fear that Africa was tilting towards recolonisation as she reneged on the terms and conditions.

Ogbogbo, who is the director of research, Nigeria Army Resource Centre, Abuja, said Nigeria and other African countries deploying military men on civil matters contribute largely to spate of violence and killing, adding that such gesture aids casualty. He urged African leaders to pay attention to the human security of their citizens in addressing the issues of development and sustainability, while remarking that a secured state does not necessarily mean that the citizens are secured.

A former United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Trafficking and chairman of the occasion, Prof. Joy Ngozi Ezeilo OON, in a remark, harped on the import of ensuring human security to promote human diginity and respect. She described the conference theme as apt and timely, especially in the post COVID pandemic era.

Ezeilo, a former Dean of Law at University of Nigeria (UNN), called for partnership between business people, government and academia, while stressing the import of bridging the inequality gap and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls to enhance the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). 

Earlier while declaring the conference open, the university vice-chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, represented by the deputy vice-chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikecheblu, said the conference theme was quite germane to the socio-economic and political dilemmas taunting most African countries. 

According to the vice-chancellor, many African countries are blessed with vast mineral and agricultural resources but are sadly trapped in the so-called resource curse, and have remained under-developed, preferring to export the primary mineral and agriculture produce without value addition.

Esimone said Africa, taunted by the debilitating interminable security challenges ranging from international terrorist organisations to separatists agitations, farmer-herder conflicts, among others, needs sustainable development, averring that the state of affairs has undoubtedly impeded foreign and local investment. He expressed optimism that the conference would help to unravel the security incubus impeding sustainable development in Africa.

In a remark, the UBS director, Prof. Emma Okoye, said the conference would bring about cross fertilisation of ideas, in addition to demonstrating the convergence in most academic disciplines, as well as how much researchers had advanced the frontiers of knowledge. The director disclosed that UBS has perfected plans for the flagship of new programmes to compete in the global market bearing in mind, the ‘Project 200’ of the university.

Prof. Ezimma Nnabuife, the LOC chairman, had, in a vote of thanks, said the conference would not have been possible but for the dogged spirit and commitment of her team, while commending resource persons and participants for honouring the invitation. She expressed optimism that the communiqué produced at the conference would yield fruit.

Speaking to this paper on the sideline of the conference, UBS deputy director, Dr. Chinedu Onyeizugbe, reiterated that the current security challenges facing Nigeria and other African States retard economic growth and development, while remarking the need to take proactive step to addressing what he described, as ‘injustice and extremism’ fueling insecurity in Nigeria and beyond. 

Presentation of community service award to Owelle Greg Okafor, founder and chairman, Oris Group of Companies, climaxed the UBS International Conference.

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