By Kennedy Mbele
The day Nigeria wakes up, Africa will never be the same again, according to Prof. PLO Lumumba, Advocate of the High Courts of Kenya and Tangayinka.
“250 million plus and I believe you Nigerians are under-counting yourselves; this is where I think Nigeria has short-changed Africa. Nigeria is Africa”, Lumumba said.
He spoke at the 5th Founder’s Day of Edo State University Uzairue which held via webinar on zoom.
As Guest Lecturer, the topic of his presentation was: ‘Modern Economic Slavery of African States: The Way Forward’.
“I believe you are nearly 300 million. If you want any of the best men and women anywhere in the world, you go to the United Kingdom, who are the doctors there? It is Nigerians and Ghanaians and a host of other Africans. You go to the United States, the great man who performed an operation in Utera was a Nigerian. In any area you go in, you find Nigerians”, Lumumba told his audience.
“The day Nigerians resolve that ‘we are going to make Africa great, that is the day Africa is going to rise again. I am appealing to you Nigerians, wherever you are, wake up, because the day you wake up, Africa will never remain the same again.
“You are punching below your weight; you cannot afford to be grouped among the lightweight while you are super heavyweight.
“I am urging Nigerians to come out there; with a population of over a 300million, you are the natural leader in that part of the world. Lead in that area, don’t close your boundaries with Togo and Benin, how can you afford to do that?
“I am telling South Africans, don’t be xenophobic, you are the anchor in that part of the world, rise and make your currency run in that area. So we have the Naira and we have the Raun. And the Democratic Republic of Congo, that richest and yet poorest nation on earth, with resources estimated conservatively at 34trillion dollars, how can you be known as the raped capital in the world?”
Quoting Chinua Achebe’s book, ‘The trouble with Nigeria’, he went on, “It could very well go with the title, ‘The trouble with Africa’; it says the problem of Nigeria/Africa is simply and squarely a problem of leadership.
“Leadership at the political level affects leadership at all other levels. Africans need to create people of inspiration and hope, then we give them a pen, then the pen will open the door. When you have enlightened political leadership, you can change your circumstances drastically.
“We cannot remain a slave forever. We have conquered the mountain of political freedom; we must now conquer the mountain of economic freedom. We must think beyond hate and only think in a manner that gives us dignity.
“We cannot continue to consume what we do not produce and produce what we do not consume. We have always been able to diagnose our problems but our major issues come with implementation. What have we done with the implementation of processes? African can be great and must be great. We must all stay on focus so that Nigeria/Africa may regain economic independence”.
In his speech at the occasion, the Visitor of Edo State University Uzaire, Governor Godwin Obaseki, thanked the institution’s Vice-Chancellor, Professor Emmanuel Aluyor, for his leadership, foresight and innovation.
“This it is what universities are supposed to be about, by their very nature universities are supposed to be innovative and rise above the circumstances of the era and point the way forward for the rest of the society”.
Saying there is no denying of the need to rethink the current economic structure and embrace new systems that serve the interest of Africans that will liberate the economies and make our different countries self-sufficient, Obaseki added, “It is this thinking that has informed the drive by the Edo State government to rearticulate the basis of our economy so that we can build local capacity for industrialization and honestly approach the issues of illegal and irregular migration, human trafficking and modern-day slavery which bedevilled our state.
“We have continued to strengthen our institutions to be more responsive to the changing needs of modern society, because we believe that for Africa to get out of its current morals, we must be built strong institutions and not strong godfathers, and ensure that these institutions are better equipped and prepared to respond to change and the challenges from both outside and within the continent.
“We believe that these set of home grown African focus solution are essential to addressing the scourge of modern economic slavery in African states, and hope that the Edo example will point the way forward for other countries and sub nationals”.
On his part, Hon. Justice Samuel Oseji, Chairman of the Occasion, thanked the Vice-Chancellor of the university and his management team for the great stride they have made in such a short time.
“You have setup a number of faculties, introduced series of programs including Medicine and Surgery, Nursing, Medical Lab Science in the College of Medical Sciences, Engineering, Law programs, in addition to faculty of Art Management and Social Sciences. Mr. Vice-Chancellor I believe you’re such a great asset not only to Edo State or even Nigeria but to Africa and the world at large”, he said.
“I have also been informed that all your programs have been approved and duly accredited by the National Universities Commission and other regulating bodies including the Medical and Dental Council of Nigeria, the Nursing and Midwife Council of Nigeria, Medical Lab Science Council of Nigeria, even the Council of Legal Education.
“Also in the list are the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria and the Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (talking about COREN). Also not forget the West Africa Health Education Board (WAHEB)”.
Earlier in his address, the Vice-Chancellor, Aluyor thanked Obaseki for his continuous support to Edo State University Uzairue “which has snowballed into landmark achievements in five years of existence of the university.
“I must say that beside achievements recorded in teaching and research (through the deployment of the CANVAS Learning Management System, Open Educational Resources, enhanced technological teaching through skills lab, power lab and the use of Anatomage among others), the university has continued to contribute her quota to national development through the Founder’s Day Lectures series.
“For instance, the focus of the fourth Founder’s Day was on national security with the presentation of then-Chief of the Air Staff, Air Marshal Sadik Abubakar.
“In keeping with the tradition of the university, this year’s Founder’s Day focuses on the economic advancement of African states. To be able to effectively achieve the purpose, we are elated to have Prof. PLO Lumumba as our Guest Lecturer. The choice of Prof. PLO Lumumba is based on his extensive contribution to the cause of Africans and African States taking her pride of place in the comity of states.
Saying that, academically, Edo State University is distinguishing herself in the aspect of teaching, research and community service, he went on: “As a matter of fact, the university operates fully approved and accredited programmes with a minimum accreditation score of 82.1% to date.
“The recent achievement in the aspect of accreditation is the full accreditation status granted the University to run the Public Health Nursing Science Programme by the West Africa Health Examination Board (WAHEB). By implication Nursing Science graduates from Edo State University Uzairue would have the Public Health Nursing Certificate along with the Regular Registered Nurse, RN Certificate.
“Also worthy of mention is the approval granted the university to run post-graduate programmes, i.e. Diplomas, Masters and Doctors of Philosophy in Economics, History and International Studies and Political Science. Others include Biochemistry, Computer Science, and Microbiology and post-graduate Diploma and Masters in Accounting by the National Universities Commission. These programmes are scheduled to take off with sessional academic activities on the 9th of April, 2021”.
Speaking in an interview after the lecture, Aluyor said the occasion was to give an opportunity to people who have impacted on their environment to say a bit of the things they know about and proffer solution to problems of society.
“This is along the line of tradition of world class universities which we believe that Edo State University is in the process of achieving that status.
“When we decided that we wanted Prof. Lumumba to speak to us, looking at his status that has been established across Africa and across the world indeed, we wanted him to speak on the topic that we felt looked at a problem that affects Africa and we know indeed for the Africa continent today economic challenges are abound and we know his passion for pan-Africanism, we know his passion for the black man.
“So, we wanted to see something that is economic and one of those problems is the fact that because of poverty which essentially it is not that the African continent is poor, it is the fact that the Africa continent is not harnessing her potentials effectively.
“Consequently, you mine gold in Africa, you send it to the West, you mine all the mineral resources of Africa and send to the West, our agricultural produce is sent to the West, they are processed and brought back for us to consume which essentially is the real reason why we are poor.
“Our oil we are unable to refine it, we send it to the West; they refine it and they bring it back for us to buy. Petrochemicals, you have the same thing. So, our inability to harness our potentials is mostly because our leaders look at their personal pockets, their selfish benefits to them rather than the good of the community.
“So, knowing Prof. Lumumba’s passion for this, we wanted him to proffer solutions not just for local problems but also global problems”
Asked if the lecture met his expectations, the VC responded, “Prof. Lumumba is a speaker par excellence and he did justice to the subject and maybe the aspect of my expectations that may not have been met is that in terms of the listenership.
“I do wish that those who mind Africa, those who mind Nigeria have listened to him or do find time to listen to him and then go on to the stage of implementing some of the recommendations he has made.
“I want to say that the problems of Africa/the problems of Nigeria is not in terms of shortage of recommendations or proffered solution, it is a shortage of implementation or a shortage of those who are willing to bell the cat and solve the problems. As somebody mentioned during the lecture, most of the Africans whom we’ve identified as belling the cat or as taking off the challenge, have been short lived, the most recent being Magafuli of Tanzania”