President Goodluck Jonathan and three other African leaders joined former President Olusegun Obasanjo Friday in London to launch his charity organisation christened Olusegun Obasanjo Foundation. The former president said the foundation “will focus on helping to assuage the numerous problems facing Africa”.
President John Mahama of Ghana, Boni Yayi of Benin Republic and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia were the other African leaders present at the Obasanjo Foundation launch. About 1000 other guests from different parts of the world were also in London for the launch. In his speech, President Jonathan said: “For any country to achieve meaningful development, its citizens must be educated enough to drive the economic potentials. If I was not educated, I couldn’t have been the president of Nigeria. In one’s life, education is important.”
President Yayi said the Obasanjo Foundation was in line with the United Nations’ policy of working towards alleviating the problems facing Africa. “We also want to help young people to enable them support their families. Vocational training is important in Africa and training the youths is vital for job creation,” said President Boni. Other head of states spoke about creating jobs and empowering youths with desirable skills. Obasanjo who spoke to journalists at Grosvenor Hotel, prior to the launch, said the foundation would focus on five major areas – girl child education, youth unemployment, preventing non-communicable diseases, food and human security.
The former President who spoke at the conference alongside the Chairperson of the Foundation, Ms. Anne Welsh and Mr. Richard Attias, a consultant, noted that government of various countries in Africa “are doing their best” to reduce the aforementioned issues, but insisted that a lot still need to be done. “I am not saying that government, the private sector and other foundations are not doing enough. In spite of all what they are doing, there is still a gap that must filled. Human security is not the responsibility of one organisation alone,” he said.
He explained further on why the foundation was focusing on girl child education: “If you educate a girl child, you educate a family. There is girl child discrimination due to cultural, religion and poverty.” Speaking on non-communicable diseases like blindness and high blood pressure, he said: “Out of the 38 million people who are blind in the world, 90 per cent can get their sight back. This is because they need to do simple things like eating good food, exercising regularly and regular medical checks. The foundation, which he said would cut across various countries in Africa is expected to start with Malawi or Mali. Other dignitaries at the launch were Aliko Dangote, Femi Otedola, Governor Henry Seriake Dickson of Bayelsa State, Governor Adams Oshiomhole and former governor Adebayo Alao Akala. Chukwuma Soludo, former governor of Nigeria’s Central bank and a former minister, Oby Ezekwezile, Senator Grace Bent and Timi Alaibe also attended.