Sunday, December 09, 2012

Achebe Colloquium at Brown University Points Path For Africa's Rebirth

Fashola, at Achebe colloquium, points path to Africa’s rebirth, others .

Sunday, 09 December 2012 21:01 Editor
Nigerian Guardian

LAGOS State Governor Babatunde Fashola at the weekend in the United States spoke on how to get Africa out of the woods. He also examined the controversy over Prof. Chinua Achebe’s latest book, urging caution.

Fashola, who delivered a keynote address at this year’s Achebe Colloquium on Africa held at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, advocated quality education, knowledge gained through rigorous self-development which could enhance data management capabilities as essential tools for successful statecraft in the 21st century.

Also in attendance at the event were Achebe (the convener and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown University), his wife, Professor Christy Achebe, their sons including, Dr. Chidi Achebe, Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, Dr Mohammed Ibrahim, Speaker, Lagos State House of Assembly, Rt. Honourable Adeyemi Ikuforiji, as well as former United States Ambassador to Nigeria Walter Carrington.

Fashola said without the possession of such tools, no leader could function in the present technology-driven world.

Speaking on the theme, “The Role of Statecraft in the African Renaissance amidst Regime Change and Ethno-Religious Insurgency – A West African Case Study,” the governor declared: “A leader in the 21st Century must be a repository of knowledge; it must interest him to know many things such that whatever he chooses not to know must be clearly unimportant.

“In the event, education of the highest quality, which is the acquisition of skills and tools of communication and knowledge, which is the individual quest for self-development, inquisitiveness, discernment and consultation will be the biggest tools for successful statecraft in the 21st Century.

“In a technologically driven world, where the primary objective of statecraft centres around the human civilisation, data possession, processing, understanding and management are a sine qua non to successful statecraft in the 21st Century.”

On Achebe’ new book, “There was a Country – A Personal History of Biafra,” Fashola blamed the controversies and bad blood it generated in the country on the absence of reliable institutional national archiving and record management.

“The discourse would have been richer, less acrimonious and not predestined for tension if institutional national archiving and information disclosure was responsibly discharged by the Federal Government of Nigeria,” he said.

He said both the principal actors in the conflict which took place about four decades ago and the present generation have since moved on, adding that both the Igbo and the Yoruba are co-existing harmoniously.

Fashola noted that statecraft “is about humanity, protecting people, securing your environment, saving lives, providing economic opportunities which in a simple word means jobs, providing education, healthcare, protecting rights and so on and so forth,” adding that the difference lies “in the complexity of the same problem, from place to place, depending on the level of development or lack of it.”

He said although the accepted global model for conducting these affairs was democracy, but is now challenged by technology, explaining that “by this I mean that with globalisation many more people are involved in the process and they influence decision making for good or bad.”

He said as a result of accurate knowledge of the number of properties in the State and massive tax awareness campaign mounted at its inception, his administration has been able increase its internally generated revenue making Lagos the only state that may survive without oil proceeds with 70 per cent of its yearly expenditure coming from internally generated funds.

The governor expressed dismay that, with her vast human and natural resources, Africa, especial the West African sub-region, has been weighed down by conflicts arising from regime change and ethno-religious insurgency which, according to him, has resulted in “mindless orgies of violence in the pursuit of crass and brazen ambition under the guise of attempted governance.”

He, however, disagreed with a recent cover of the TIME Magazine which described Africa as “Rising,” pointing out that like historic empires and kingdoms of the 20th Century which rose and fell, the continent which, according to him, has been held back over the years by “conflicts fuelled by the desire for dominance, territorial control, economic benefit for self or allies,” is experiencing a renaissance.

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