The Conference on CSSDCA
Midrand, South Africa, December, 2001: The Experts’ meeting on the Development and Cooperation Calabashes of the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) was held in Midrand, Guateng, South Africa, from 9 to 13 December 2001. The meeting was convened in pursuance of the CSSDCA Solemn Declaration adopted by the 36th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government in Lome, Togo, in July 2000, which Implementation Plan, inter-alia, requested the Secretary General of the OAU to take necessary measures to ensure that detailed discussions are undertaken on the various calabashes in order to implement the CSSDCA process.
- The participants at this meeting called on the need to harness the potentials of the CSSDCA, NEPAD and the African Union in a way that will mutually reinforce and strengthen each other, without detracting from the full functions of each. In this manner, NEPAD will be primarily a guide for policy and programme formulation for the African Union, while the CSSDCA will provide values and benchmarks against which successes could be measured.
- Both the CSSDCA and NEPAD have added value for the African Union, the former being a framework for adopting common values and a monitoring mechanism, while the later is an invaluable action programme spearheaded by the leaders for advancing the interests of the continent vis-à-vis the continent’s partners in the wider international community. ALF, as usual provided the technical backstopping for the OAU.
Farm House Dialogue
The Farm House Dialogue in years 2000 and 2001has been devoted to issues of Good Governance. With the financial assistance of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation, six topics were discussed under the series dealt with in the different Dialogues in the year. These are: Leadership for Good Governance; Political Parties and Good Governance; and The Parliament and Good Governance and Civil Society and Good Governance.
In the year 2001, the Africa Leadership Forum, in collaboration with the Friedrich Naumann Foundation effectively organised six successful Farm House Dialogues, which focused on a wide range of issues; and how they can enhance the quality of governance in Nigeria. These FHD series, which came under the Good Governance series of the Dialogues, drew an array of participants from the various state of the Nigeria society.
Specifically, the six FHDs that were organised by the ALF came under the following themes, in their order of organisation.
37th FHD - Police and Good Governance - 23rd-25th February, 2001;
38th FHD - Public Service and Good Governance - 30th March – 1st February;
39th FHD - Religion and Good Governance - 22nd- 24th June, 2001;
40th FHD - Judiciary and Good Governance - 26th –28th October, 2001;
41st FHD - Education and Good Governance - 14th-16th September, 2001;
42nd FHD-Women Youths and Good Governance. – 18th–20th December, 2001.
Distinguished personalities that featured as chair person chairperson were: retried D.I.G Fidelis Oyakhilome, (Police and Good Governance); Prof. Jadesola Akande, former Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University (Public Service and Good Governance) Prof. Sophie Oluwole Professor of Philosophy, University of Lagos (Religion and Good Governance); Chief Julius Adelusi-Adeluyi, former Minister for Health during the transition government (Education and Good Governance); Justice Chris Aniagolu, retired Justice of the Supreme Court (Judiciary and Good Governance), and Mr. Ishaya Mark Aku, Honourable Minister for Social Development and Sports (Women Youths and Good Governance).
Over the years, reports emanating from the Farm House Dialogues have continued to serve as a recognised and authoritative source of policy input for government policies and other sectors of Nigerian National life. The publications have become part of the body of literature that cannot be ignored in serious national development thinking and policy implementation. For example, as a follow up to the Dialogue on Women and Society, an ad hoc committee was set up to prepare a position paper for a future constitutional conference in Nigeria. In addition, the Dialogues have, through its informal interactive framework provided the building blocks for golden bridges over traditional divides of Nigerian national life.
Each report has been widely published and disseminated to members of the Executive, the Judiciary, the parliament, the academia, the business community, NGOs, students union, labour unions, the civil service, and major private sector corporations. In addition, eight national newspapers, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, Sunday Sketch, The Mail the New Nigerian The Punch and Thisday, as well as two community newspapers, Community Magnet and The Parrot have at various times, serialised the reports of the Dialogue. This, of course has enabled a much wider dissemination of the proceedings even well down to the grassroots.
Generally, the reports and the discussions resulting from the Dialogues have exercised a discernible influence on national debates related to the issues concerned. For example, the recommendation to employ additional criteria, e.g. management experience, in the selection of chief executives of universities, resulted from the second Dialogue, just as the decision to adopt a national policy of nine years of compulsory education. Some other recommendations of the Dialogue have also been implemented at the national level, e.g. the abolition of the Ministry of Local Government was a result of the first Dialogue.
Farm House Dialogue series have attracted the interest of African personalities outside Nigeria who have sought to create a similar mechanism in their countries. The Africa Leadership Forum has been approached to provide initial technical and organisational support for such initiative.
3rd Africa Women Forum
Consistent with the vision that led to the emergence of the Africa Women Forum in Acrra, January 1997 conference, the Africa Leadership Forum in January22-24, 2001 convened the 3rd AWF.
It aimed principally at promoting the collective interest and leadership of women in Africa through research, training, and advocacy and strengthening the capacity and capabilities of Africa Women’s network.
Pursuant to the January, 1997 Accra conference, the ALF convened the first meeting of the African Women’s Forum, in collaboration with Akina Mama wa Afrika, from 28-30 May, 1998 in Cape town, under the main theme ‘ Leadership and Communication for Empowerment’ The meeting was convened to examine the leadership and networking capabilities of African women and networks, and to design strategies and overreaching linkages for enhancing the visibility and effective integration of women in leadership positions.
The Cape Town meeting re-emphasised the importance of ranking African nations on a progressively refined set of indicators – to reflect their accomplishments as regards women’s participation in political and economic spheres, in particular with respect to leadership positions, and the advancement of women in general.
In line with one of the objectives of the Cape Town Conference, of promoting and strengthening women’s network in the region, the Conference called for the need to initiate a directory of Africa Women’s networks.
Endorsing this need, ALF engaged the services of a team of leading African gender consultants to develop the index on Status of Women in Africa to be used for the ranking of African countries and governments.
The 2nd Africa Women’s Forum held in Abidjan, Cote d’ Ivoire from the 23rd to the 24th August, 1999 under the theme ‘Improving the status of women in Africa: Challenges for the Future’. The meeting focused mainly on the Index on the Status of Women in Africa.
1. To identify strategies that could be adopted for broadening the support base for the index, as a negotiating platform towards building a critical mass of women leaders in Africa and for the advancement of women in general.
2. To explore methods that could be used for further broadening and deepening of the index.
3. To identify possible modalities and strategies for effectively utilising the Index as a strong negotiating platform for women and civil society organisations in Africa.
In realising objective (2), participants in their discussions on the review of the index came up with certain recommendations and amendments to the Index before it was adopted as a platform for negotiation. The following were the recommendations:
· The definition of women’s empowerment as meaning the level of numerical representation in government and parliament as too narrow and rough, not broad enough to include women in other professions and those that are involved in shaping public policy.
· That women’s empowerment should not be defined purely in terms of women’s occupation of decision making positions in society, but rather as the process by which women collectively recognise their problems and mobilise to act to achieve gender equality, i.e. conscientisation, mobilisation and control.
However, objectives (1) and (3) however, these are yet to be realised because the index is still been revised for it to serve as a strong negotiating platform for improving the status of women.
By the end of the Abidjan Conference, participants all agreed that the above-mentioned recommendations should be considered in future editions of the index.
Participants were also unanimous on the relevance of periodic monitoring and evaluation of progress as an essential tool to support all strategies aimed at improving the status of women in Africa.
The Tunis Meeting
Fortuitous circumstances prevented the 3rd AWF from holding in the year 2000. However a well-attended and perhaps the most successful of the AWF series was convened called the Third Africa Women’s Forum in collaboration with the African Women’s Committee on Peace and Development (AWCPD), Femme Afrique Solidarite (FAS), and the Tunisian Ministry of Women and Family Affairs from January 22-24, 2001. The theme of the three-day conference held at the Hilton Hotel in Tunis, Tunisia was Women and Conflict Management in Africa.
While H.E. Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Vice-President, Republic of Uganda chaired the proceeding. Mrs. Angela King, the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Gender Issues, delivered the keynote address. Madam Naziha Zarrouk, Tunisia’s Minister for Women and Family Affairs, formally declared the meeting open.
In attendance at the meeting were over 100 participants drawn from twenty countries across the world. They represented a cross-section of the various networks within the women’s movement in Africa and Europe, including political leaders, parliamentarians, ministers and development professionals and representatives of regional and global inter-governmental organisations.
H.E. President Zine Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia displayed deep commitment to the cause of women by the appointment of five new women ministers at the time of the conference. It was a rare coincidence.
The meeting acknowledged the participation of H.E. Dr. Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, Vice President of Uganda, underscoring her demonstrable efforts at improving the status of the African woman. The highly productive role of the Africa Women’s Committee for Peace and Development, (AWCPD), a body that is playing a key role in changing the face and status of the African woman also came up for commendation.
There was further acknowledgement of the financial support provided by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Regional Bureau for Africa; the Education for Democracy and Development Initiatives (EDDI) and the Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid, (CORDAID).
Deliberations during the meeting pointed to the new dimension in the nature of conflicts in Africa. The point was noted that, in recent wars especially on the continent, combatants no longer aim at merely defeating opponents and enemies but at inflicting maximum pain and humiliation on civilians by destroying their identity and sense of community. The meeting deplored the deliberate targeting of women and children as a tactic of warfare. This development highlights the imperative for mainstreaming the issues of gender equality and human rights as salient features of conflict management and peace building in Africa.
The following three major challenges facing women were identified.
- Poor representation of women at higher levels of decision-making;
- Gender-based violence against women;
- Persistent stereotypical attitudes toward the respective gender roles of women and men.
To meet these challenges, it was suggested that African governments and development partners should allocate adequate resources to strengthen the capacity of women who are engaged in peace-building and conflict management. It was further suggested that series of confidence-building mechanisms be put in place for those involved in women liberation efforts. Additionally, training for women community leaders and candidates for political and professional offices must be increased. Participants urged all Africans to advocate and promote the campaign of zero- degree of tolerance on violence against women.
As part of efforts designed to strengthen women’s work in peace building, the conference urged the evolution of stronger partnerships with all institutions of authority; in particular, the Organisation of African Unity, the United Nations and their various agencies, as well as other sub-regional organisations involved in conflict management.
It called for creative internal resource mobilisation strategies. In this regard, opportunities for incorporating the private sector into internal resource mobilisation, they contended, should be pursued. The meeting also recognised the need to re-invigorate women based non-governmental organisation, NGOs, in Africa and to make them more transparent and accountable.Participants acknowledged the critical role of donor agencies in assisting peace initiatives, but further enjoined them to increase the level of their support to women’s organisations generally and in particular women peacemaking initiatives.
On the numerous crises plaguing Africa, the 3rd AWF deplored the role of external forces that perpetually profit from the sale of arms, as well as those others who exploit and plunder the resources of African nations during crisis periods. The conference noted with dismay the activities of such bodies that aggravate tension and undermine the work of African women in conflict prevention and peace building.
The meeting commended the OAU for adopting the Solemn Declaration on the Conference on Security, Stability, Development and Cooperation in Africa (CSSDCA) at its 2000 summit. Women’s movements were also enjoined to facilitate greater dissemination of the principles of this Declaration because of the new opportunities it offers for greater collaboration and its potential for the accelerated development of the continent. In addition, participants also agreed to undertake the required steps to engage different segments of the African publics in the implementation of the principles and policy-implications of the CSSDCA.
It was agreed that the implementation meetings on the various calabashes of the CSSDCA reflect the various recommendations on women and peace building, which culminated in the Security Council Resolution number 1325 on women and conflict management among others.
Participants noted that it is important to see issues of national security and those of human security as two sides of the same global security coin. Women, it was pointed out, should share the core of participation in any agenda for peace and security in Africa and they should form part of the decision-making machinery on this and other global initiatives.
The meeting urged all governments that have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), to implement the provisions therein and to further refrain from enacting and applying laws or decrees that suppress women’s rights.
The meeting agreed on developing modalities for increasing women’s role and responsibility in activating the early warning mechanisms for the prevention of future conflicts.
Participants strongly condemned the now common use of violence against women as warfare strategy. As a deterrent, they called for the re-definition of sexual violence as a punishable war crime. Likewise, they deplored the conscription of children as soldiers as an immoral and unacceptable trend. It was recommended that such conscriptions should also be seen as crimes against humanity, punishable even after the event of war.
The meeting emphasised that true peace must be home- grown. It must be based on bonds of trust and confidence. It has to be built on the interrelation of social and cultural norms and values informed by international human rights instruments and democratic principles. The vision of a world free of the scourge of crisis and war can only be realized with the equal and fair participation of women in the conflict management and decision-making processes. In particular, women should be helped to get into critical positions of authority and leadership in peacekeeping operations.
The meeting agreed on systematic documentation and wider use of positive traditional knowledge systems and mechanisms that will facilitate and promote effective conflict management. They also expressed the need to conduct an evaluation and review of all on- going conflict management initiatives by African women with a view to enhancing them and optimising their workability. Participants noted with sadness the gap between policy intent and practice in conflict management in Africa and canvassed the need to strengthen women’s capacity for peace.
The Specific Responsibilities of Women Organizations
The meeting noted the multiplicity of initiatives by women as indicative of the magnitude of the work that must be done in conflict management. The meeting acknowledged the positive contributions of the various initiatives in the promotion of peace. However, it was suggested that deeper networking, greater collaboration and consolidation of efforts be put in place to ensure greater effectiveness and efficiency.
The meeting then called for a comprehensive study and research into conflicts, in order to build on the lessons learned from the experiences in other parts of the world in responding to the new forms of challenges confronting the continent.
Participants commended the initiative to establish an African Women’s Development Fund, even as they urged greater support and encouragement of similar initiatives in the face of globalisation and the diminishing support for development work on the continent.
The meeting suggested that a range of capacity-building workshops on leadership development be organised for women . The Africa Women’s Forum was requested to incorporate such workshops into its next meeting.
Thereafter, the meeting urged the various African women’s movements to propose concrete strategies aimed at replenishing their ranks. This must include a strategic modality for preparing the future generation of Africans for critical leadership roles and the culture of peace.
Another crucial subject examined was the problem of discrimination and other evils; issues that also form the focus of the World Conference on Racism, Xenophobia, and Intolerance in Durban, South Africa. The meeting noted the significant negative impact of discrimination on conflict in Africa and on African women.
Participants requested for the greater involvement of women in the process leading up to and after the conference. They therefore called on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as well as other African governments to facilitate greater and effective participation by African women in the process.
Finally, participants noted the contributions of women in conflict management and regarded the meeting as a starting point in celebrating the accomplishments of African women in different parts of Africa. The valiant contributions of African women in the various peace processes in Burundi, Somalia, Sudan, Chad, Eritrea, the Mano River Union (Sierra Leone, Liberia, guinea) as well as other parts of Africa were regarded as instructive and inspiring. Participants acknowledged the personal challenges and risks taken by the women who have led this process and called for greater recognition of their efforts.
Decentralised Economic Development Workshop
For three days, March 19 and 22 2001, Africa’s premier civil society organisation, the Africa Leadership Forum organised a workshop in collaboration with the Friedrich-Naumann-Foundation and the Nigerian Association of Small-Scale Industrialists on “Decentralised Economic Development” with a view to facilitating the growth of the small-scale industrial sector. It was held under the aegis of ALF Good Governance project
Essentially, the objective of the workshop was to initiate a new development model as a means of stimulating rapid economic development. The new model is a decidedly bottom-up approach to development projects. It posits that the community, as well as all stakeholders, should be involved in the defining, funding, implementation and reviewing of development projects. As a way of continuing with the gains of the workshop, two pilot small-scale industrial zones to be sited in two Local Government Areas in Plateau and Osun States respectively were planned.
The aim of the workshop was to present the concept of ‘Citizen Oriented Community Development Initiative’ and to discuss its practicability in order to guarantee the successful implementation of the initiative. The COCDI model was explained and applied in a way that made all participants to finally accept and embrace the model. The audience praised its comprehensiveness and completeness and promised to promote the model in their respective environments.
Apart from the model, concrete examples of small-scale industrial zones were given by the various speakers, as well as valuable information on financial possibilities, legal framework, policy requirements, policy gaps, tips, possible alliances, etc. Through the various discussion sessions, participants got a lot of opportunities to discuss their own situations; give their feedback and comments. Sieving through their comments, participants came to the following conclusion on engendering action on the initiative:
· Lobbying at the federal, state and local levels is necessary to pressure policies and measures to stimulate decentralised economic development. Joined forces will increase the success of the lobby.
· The COCDI model should be promoted and adopted in development projects.
· In order to be known and taken into consideration, the small-scale like the medium-sized sector must define itself and promote its aims, needs and requirements. Data collection on the sector will help to achieve this. The press should be used to let the public know what NASSI and SMEs are doing.
· It is not necessary to wait for other parties, like the federal government to come up with the required policies. Instead, it is possible to use self-motivation, in addition to the power to bring the involved stakeholders together and jointly create a small-scale industrial zone. The focus on getting money can distract from the actual tasks but, at the beginning, what is important is to build with what is already available. Once a zone has been set-up, it is easier to request for the required materials, such as machinery, tools, own bank or loaning scheme, etc.
· Small-scale industrial zones are bound to be of diverse sizes, depending on the location and availability of other factors of production. However, it was concluded that a small zone is more likely to be effective and successful than a complex, big industrial zone.
· A participatory approach is a necessity; women, youths and the aged whose lives will be affected by the setting up of an industrial zone ought to be included in the decision making process.
The workshop succeeded in serving as a forum where the necessary networks and linkage among the participants were established. One good example of effective networking was the creation of an ad-hoc working group during one of the sessions. This group discussed how to lobby the National Assembly to pass the bill regarding the establishment of SMEDA and how to propose a closer study of the initiative as well as the inclusion of the COCDI framework.
The workshop aspired to inspire in the participants a post-workshop COCDI model in the states concerned and to further develop the small-scale industrial zones. A monitoring process has been put in place by both the ALF and FNF to supervise the creation of small-scale industrial zones in Plateau and Osun State.
ALF is also pursuing an agenda to table the COCDI model; fine-tuned, indigenised, and revised version, at the next National Economic Summit where it is hoped to be accepted at the Federal level.
On the first day of the workshop participants were asked to introduce themselves briefly, stating what their expectations of the workshop were. From the plethora of expectations advanced, the following featured prominently:
•To share information, ideas and to learn from one another and from other people’s experiences;
· To receive information on how to get access to funds and how to develop small-scale industries in their areas;
· To provide information and sensitise participants about organisations or products;
· To gather information transferable to constituents for the grassroots utilisation on how to lead their people and the gains of COCDI and how to bring about a change in their local government areas when small-scale industrial zones are created.
· A lot of participants wished that the workshop would help to establish linkages and enhance collaboration among several stakeholders.
· That the discussion would serve as valuable inputs for policy makers on the different levels.
Resource persons for this workshop were drawn from the academia, clergy, economists, small scale entrepreneurs, diplomats, technocrats and political actors. They include, Dr. Olumide Ajayi, Programmes Manager, Africa Leadership Forum, who presented a paper titled: An Overview of the Legal Framework and Statutory Provisions for Small-Scale Industrialisation. Dr Sobodu, Chief Economist of the United Bank for Africa, presented a paper titled “Setting Up Small-Scale Industrial Zones: Economic Advantages and Challenges”. Dr. Debraji Pradhan, India’s Deputy High Commissioner to Nigeria, talked about the Indian Experience of Small-Scale Industrial Zones and informed the participants of the small-scale industries’ phenomenal growth in India. According to him, their exports have acquired great significance in India’s foreign trade. Princess Oladunni, Deputy Director of Research at the Central Bank of Nigeria presented a paper, “Rural Economic Development: The Role of The Central Bank of Nigeria” Professor Obiora, the Director of The Catholic Institute for Development, Justice and Peace (CIDJAP) in Enugu, talked about the importance of the people’s participation in development.
Ms Edozien of the Growing Business Foundation asserted that financing small-scale industries should constitute no problem to the small-scale industrialists. She maintained that success in getting the requisite finance depends on the viability and credibility of the project to be embarked upon, while stressing the importance of NASSI as a lobby group.
The head of Citizen Oriented Community Development Initiative, Herbert Girkes from DIHT; Deutscher Industrie und Handelstag, (the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce for West-Africa), gave an overview of the sources of development aid. The German Development Aid can be categorised into official and non-official development aid. The Official Development Aid is given by public institutions, like German Ministries and the GTZ, German Technical Co-operation. Every year, and at a bilateral meeting between the German government and the Federal Government of Nigeria, the development agenda is set and the allocation of money is agreed upon. It is not possible to go directly to the GTZ office and apply for grants; the only possibility is to lobby to get included in the negotiations at the Federal level.
Private institutions like German churches also give development aid. German Chambers of Commerce organised a self-help initiative called the Senior Expert Service, which is a service to send out retired experts in all fields to particular projects. Mr. Girkes mentioned the European Union and the Africa Development Bank as other sources for financing.
The NIPC Chairman, Kola Daisi, presented the paper “Small and Medium Enterprises: Promotional Strategies by the Nigerian Investment Promotion Commission (NIPC)” which explained the role of NIPC as an agency of the Federal Government with the mandate to promote, co-ordinate and facilitate investment in Nigeria.
At the end of the three day workshop, 90% of the participants attested to being overwhelmed by the sheer relevance of the issues raised by the resource persons and offered to collaborate with ALF in future on developmental matters.
Few weeks afterwards an indigenous Radio station offered to collaborate with ALF on a radio programme tentatively titled “you too, fit make money”, to be broadcast in pidgin English.
Commissioning of ALF Secretariat
At its inception in 1988, the Africa Leadership Forum had two offices, its headquarters at Ota, Nigeria and an outpost in New York City, USA. The two offices were both modest and inadequate compared with the orbit, tenure and activities that ALF conferred on itself. But then, structures maketh an institution not; only a determined people under a focussed leadership do. As the organisation grew in strength, the staff creatively managed the available office space. Of course, there was a clear limit to our creativity. The available space of two rooms adjacent to the conference hall of the Farm gate Hotel Complex, Ota, Nigeria had become completely insufficient.
As time went on, an office was opened in London for ALF’s journal, The Africa Forum. At a point, we found it necessary to close down our offices in New York and London and repatriated everything to the headquarters in Ota; creating more of a squeeze on the space that had originally housed our small staff. The library of Obasanjo Farms, Nigeria Limited, was now converted to our office. Even at that, we found ourselves still short of space as Africa Leadership Forum’s activities kept expanding.
In order to address the long-term needs of the organisation in terms of office accommodation, our founding Chairman, H E Olusegun Obasanjo had sometimes in 1993 saw a window of opportunity and closed in on it. Someone had offred for sale 1.6 hectares of land in Benja Village, on the outskirts of Ota, just bordering the Bell’s School. Consequently, Architect Yomi Hotonou was requested to submit a design, which he did and he subsequently produced a model. He also introduced a construction firm to give an estimate for constructing the then anticipated secretariat. The final cost, of course, was intimidating. Nonetheless, Obasanjo’s optimism remained largely infectious and the passion to build the secretariat became all-consuming.
That was before the General Obasanjo was “convicted” in a phantom coup in 1995. ALF. With the new turn of events in 1995, had to temporarily relocate to Accra. Undeterred by this infamous sentence, ALF activities progressed even more with conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops and meetings that registered far reaching effects and indeed, positively, impacted on national legislations. Following the release of General Obasanjo in 1998, ALF returned to Nigeria. By this time, the scope had gone beyond what the Obasanjo Farm’s temporary office could cope with. We were faced with a number of options. In building the secretariat commissioned by HE Atiku Abubakar, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on May 12, 2001, we had to settle for for the idea of a turn-key option based on design, build and deliver. Thus, began a process of negotiations with construction firms. As part of our capacity-building strategies, we settled for an indigenous Nigerian firm, Ahmak Engineering Limited.
In this enterprise, we had a soul-mate in Engr. A.K. Ahmadu. He, as Chief Executive of the firm, obliged to design, build and finance the product of social entrepreneurship that any civil society organisation in Africa would have as a permanent secretariat.
Hoping and relying on the goodwill, support and generosity of the citizenry, on May 12th, 2001 we rolled out the drums, calling on Africans to help our ideals and ideas by donating to our endowment fund.
Goodwill messages poured forth like the torrential rains from world leaders including the UN secretary General, Mr. Koffi Annan, the UNESCO Director General, Mr. Koichiro Matsuura, the then OAU Secretary General, Salim Ahmed Salim, President Festus Mogae of Botswana, President John Kuffour of Ghana and President Joaquim Alberto Chissano of Mozambique H.E. Abubakar Atiku, GCON, Vice president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, led a horde of top Nigerian government functionaries, including HE Chief Olusegun Osoba, Executive Governor of Ogun State, H.E. Alhaji Audu Abubakar, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, H. E. Alhaji Ahmed Muazu of Bauchi State and H.E. Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu of Lagos State, among other captains of industries, royal fathers, philanthropists, school children and private citizen to commission the ALF secretariat and launched a N600m Edowment Fund. Though we were rules away from the amount targetted, it was a monumental success due to efforts of remarkable personalities who demonstrated invaluable concern with highly productive responses.
The secretariat of the ALF is located at #1, The Bell’s Drive, in the tiny but serene village of Benja, seven kilometers outside Ota, the industrial nerve center of Ogun State, Nigeria.
It occupies a landmass of 4.105 acres in a prime location on the outskirts of the industrial town. Going by 1991 population census figure, the town, which is the headquarter of Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government is inhabited by 269,000 people from diverse backgrounds. It is hot and humid most of the year and with about seven months rainfall in a year and an estimated 1,250mm annual rainfall.
About 45 minutes drive from Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos, the head office is also about an hour’s drive from Cotonou, the capital of the Republic of Benin. In spite of its proximity to Lagos, it is devoid of the hustle-bustle life of the former nation’s capital.
The location outside an industrial town offers the right atmosphere for intellectual and sober reflections desired to ponder on the problematic state of African development process.
The design was generated from the consideration of several fundamentals: accommodation, operation, environment, scale character, construction and cost. The International Conference Centre can comfortably accommodate 450 guests, with all of the supporting services expected of a top quality research and conference center. In addition, it will provide for a multiplicity of activities with the ability to cater for everything, from an international conference to local workshops and seminars.
Office accommodation is arranged in such a way that privacy and seclusion required for proper intellectual exercise can be achieved.
However, this does not imply a dislocation of activities. The main reception pavilion provides a fulcrum to the entire complex, providing a nucleus from which visitor may gain access to all parts of the complex.
On entering the pavilion, the arriving guest will become aware of the second principle. Circulation routes have been designed under extensive roof structure without the restriction of a perimeter wall. Thus, the complex may be entered without passing through a doorway and the guest is immediately thrown into the complex activity zone by merely mounting a few steps onto the main terrace podium.
By retaining a comparatively low perimeter to the building, complete with sun control panels and filters at the edge of a very extensive roof, and relating this to a vastly increased volume in the body of the building, a constant flow of air is naturally generated which enables any heat to be drawn out of the space at the top of the roof, away from public circulation below. In this way comfortable conditions can be maintained without the very considerable expense of air conditioning. It again serves an aesthetic purpose. The complex also offers external terraces and very substantial swimming pool for recreational purposes.
European Union Programming Study
he advent of the elected government of Chief Olusegun Obasanjo marked the turning point of the international community’s policies of ostracism against Nigeria. With democratisation came a renewed interest from international donor agencies, particularly the European Union, to register effective support for the nascent democracy in the country.
Prior to 29 May 1999, in an International meet in Togo, known as the Lome Convention, the European Union made provision for some funds for the development of Nigeria, but the military system of government which was operational in the country prevented the realization of these EU projects in Nigeria, in line with the international community’s conditionality that democratisation was sine qua non for benefiting from such international support.
Consequently, as stated, the EU interest in Nigeria became reactivated in Nigeria with the advent of democracy. Therefore, a programming study was launched in the mid 2000 to determine the most effective way of using “a financial envelop” of about 600m Euro from past and present allocation of the European Union Development Funds in Nigeria. The Development Researchers Network of Italy – the European Organisation, handled this programming study and the Africa Leadership Forum, which was its Nigerian counterpart.
While the DRN came with its teams of experts for this study; the Africa Leadership Forum successfully provided the logistic for the successful conduct of the study. The organization made office and travelling arrangements facilitated adequate interaction between the various agents involved in the project, and the provision of the Nigerian experts to the study.
The Africa Leadership Forum conducted the smooth prosecution of this study; and the report was presented to the National Planning Commission, the agency handling the project for the federal government in March 2001. Findings of the programming study reveals that the Council of the European Union, on 15 May 2001 indicated select areas of priority in Nigeria that are worthy of the support of external development agencies. These include the consolidation the new democracy in the country; poverty alleviation (reduction), the introduction of sustainable social and institutional reforms; and the overall development of Nigeria.
In their x-ray of the economy, the report declared that government effort at clinching macro-economic stability has not yielded much; stressing that aside the oil sector which produces 96% of the total export to the country, effective private sector presence in areas like transportation, energy, and communication, has not been accomplished due to a number of reasons. These include the huge cost involved in such areas, managerial inadequacies that compound an already weak economy.
In view of this, the European Development Fund programmes, expected to raise a total target of 600m Euro in five years at 120mEuro a year, has the major goal of attaining an appreciable level of poverty reduction, enhanced developmental opportunities in Nigeria and putting Nigeria’s nascent democracy on a solid footing. According to the report, the EU accord due recognition to the centrality of the states and local governments to the effective execution of government policies, and the realisation of the objective of good governance.
The report stated that the European Development Fund has indicated readiness in the provision of development incentives in Nigeria through multi donor programmes. This will provide the EU, with the ideal platform to feature prominently on the issue of the selection of the policies that will further propel international recognition.
In all, the report pointed that a critical analysis of the Nigerian situation culminated in the selection of 6 states, one each from the six-geopolitical zones, into which the country is divided; as the areas of focus of the EU activities. These are Osun (South West), Cross River (South South), Abia (South East), Plateau (North Central), Gombe (North East) and Kebbi (North West).
The focus of the EDF activities in each of these states includes: health, water, education, rural development, and food security – areas that are considered “sensitive” to the crusade against poverty.