By Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Federal Government has called on African Union (AU) to ensure cooperation of all African countries in tackling the challenge of terrorism and general underdevelopment in the continent.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Geoffrey Onyeama, made this call on Thursday dinner in celebration of the 54th anniversary of Africa freedom day and formation of Organisation of African Unity (OAU) now AU.Â
Onyeama emphasised the significance of harnessing the demographic dividend to Africaâ€™s transformation, which he said has been acknowledged by African leaders at the highest level and in key ministerial platforms.
This, he said, would catalyse the collective aim to achieve sustainable development, inclusive economic growth, and to build “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, which is driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arenaâ€.
He stressed that in adopting the theme for 2017 event: “Harnessing the Demographic Dividend through investments in Youthâ€, AU have been guided by the realisation that a demographic dividend offers a strategic basis for focusing and prioritising investments in people in general, and the youth in particular.Â
Onyeama said that as a people of common heritage and identity, Africa had many reasons to roll out the drums in celebration of the 54th anniversary of the founding of the continental body.Â Â
He however, called on AU to forge common front to deal with the emerging security challenges in Africa and collectively work towards peaceful coexistence and development.
Â He said: “With barely 32 independent African countries at inception the continental body has today grown to 55 nations across the continent. With the formal return of the Kingdom of Morocco to the AU family in January, 2017, we can now say that there is indeed unity in the continental body. Â
“It can be said today that Africa has largely succeeded in overcoming the challenges and threats to her unity.Â But it is really not yet Uhuru. Â
The AU should now be focused on actively addressing the lingering issues of cooperation in fighting underdevelopment and terrorism that are beyond the reach of any single African state to tackle.Â
Â We must promote peace and security, intra-Africa trade and regional integration as drivers of sustainable human development in Africa.”
“Commemorating Africa Day provides us with an opportunity to celebrate the significant progress made by the Continent since the inception of the OAU 54 years ago and the transformation to the African Union. Â There is improvement in peace and stability, democratic governance, human development, the promotion and protection of human rights, the quest for accelerated regional and continental integration through the execution of the Regional and Continental projects, the enthronement of gender parity in national and continental institutions and the reduction of infant and maternal mortality are some of the many other tangible peace dividends that Africa may rightly feel proud of”.
The minister also used the opportunity to commend the Group of African Diplomats in Abuja for commemoration week of activities that included a visit to FCT School for the Blind Children . Â
“Your donation of learning materials and equipment worth N4.7 million to the School is greatly appreciated. I commend your generosity and philanthropy to the less privileged in our society,” he said.
Earlier, the Dean of the Africa Ambassadorsâ€™ Group in Nigeria, Amb. Salaheddine Abbas Ibrahim, said that AU can boast of having put in place the structures likely to implement the ambitions it has set for peace and development in Africa.