Nigeria marks 100 years of unification

Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur Thursday joined African and other world leaders at a conference in Nigeria, to mark the centenary celebration of the amalgamation of Northern and Southern states of the West African nation.

Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, in a keynote address, stressed human security, and greater collaboration among African leaders to nip in the bud the growing threat to personal safety as the continent moved into brighter economic prospects.

President Jonathan pointed out that there was no need to sacrifice human and personal security and state security, adding that, there should be a right mix of policies to address the challenges of poverty, insecurity, environmental degradation and youth unemployment among others.

The one-day summit level conference on “Human Security, Peace and Development: Agenda for the 21st Century Africa,” formed part of the centenary celebrations of the unification of Nigeria.

President Jonathan stressed an African life that was free from terrorist threats, wars and conflicts.

Vice President Kwesi Amissah-Arthur is leading a Ghanaian delegation which include Mr Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, to the celebration, which is being held on the theme “One Nigeria: Great Promise.”

The summit attracted scores of leaders from the African continent, French President Francois Hollande, Representatives of both the British Prime Minister David Cameron, and US President Barrack Obama, the United Nations Secretary General and the Prime Minister of Israel Benyamin Netaynahu.

The rest are the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, President of the European Union and Former African Union Secretary General Dr Salim Ahmed Salim.

The Abuja International Conference Centre, where the summit was held, was adorned with centenary paraphernalia in the state colours of green and white.

Celebrants were dressed in customised clothes with the national logo of Nigeria and summit themes embossed on them.

However, there was heavy security presence in the precincts of the Centre, in apparent reaction to the recent terrorist activity of the Boko Haram, which claimed the lives of 43 school pupils in the Northern Nigerian town of Yobe.

President Jonathan condemned the gruesome act, and assured Nigerians that his Administration would spare no resources to bring “the murderers to justice.”

The Nigerian Leader observed the growth of African economies, which he said was propelling them into better lives, a pointer to better future, but noted the need to secure Africa’s bright prospects with better human security.

He noted with concern that many African governments had placed state security at the expense of human security.

President Jonathan called for the growth of Africa to address food security challenges as well as the provision of resources; and urged the need to work together across nations to check transnational terrorist activities.

He expressed concern of light weapons in the hands of individuals in the ECOWAS sub-region and illegal arms trafficking.

The Nigerian President called for the development of entrepreneurial skills, creation of job opportunities for the youth of Africa and the strengthening of intra-African trade.

President Jonathan observed that Africa bore the brunt of climate change despite her little contribution to the phenomenon.

He also proposed an “Affirmative Financial Action for Women” under which banks would give 30 per cent of all lending to women in agriculture.

“Securing women’s future will secure Africa’s future,” President Jonathan said, adding, “we need to reduce the cost of elections and ensure that the dividends of democracy are shared by our people.”

All the speakers were unanimous in condemning the Boko Haram act in Yobe.

Meanwhile, the Centenary Celebrations Grand Finale, which follows the Summit at the Abuja National Stadium, is set to be a night of history and spectacle, ending in a display of fireworks.

There will be a pre-concert, followed by a multimedia show and fireworks display.

The event will also revive nostalgia and relive music from past decades. GNA

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