Former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo (third from right), former President of Republic of Benin, Boni Yayi (second from right) and Nigerian Ambassador to Republic of Benin, Mr. Kayode Oguntuashe and former President of Republic of Benin, Nicephore Soglo (besides Obasanjo on the immediate left) and other dignitaries after the meeting aimed at having an African Day of Slavery and Slave Trade held in Cotonou on Wednesday.

COTONOU – Former Nigerian President, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo and his Beninese counterpart, former President Nicephore Soglo have reiterated the call for adoption of a single currency for the ECOWAS states to boost socio-economic and cultural developments in the African sub-region.

The two former African Presidents also canvassed for the adoption of an annual work-free day to celebrate history of slavery and slave trade in the African continent.

Speaking at a special meeting held in Cotonou, Republic of Benin on Wednesday, Obasanjo said the parley was a follow-up to the conference on peace, security and stability in Africa held in Tokyo, Japan last month.

According to a release by Obasanjo’s Special Assistant (Media), Kehinde Akinyemi, Obasanjo said the move for the recognition of a day of slavery and slave trade in Africa could best be described as a “passionate move”, which should be pursued in order to avoid the mistakes of the past.

He emphasized that the passion on not forgetting the history of Africa’s slavery as expressed by Soglo during the Japan’s meeting, “is the most pernicious and I have decided to work hard with those who share our sentiments on the issue.

“I shared in this passion, which is with a bit of agony, and I shared both of them with President Soglo, hence my coming here to Cotonou, and rub minds together and take it up from the there and take it to our leaders at the AU and the UN, which is the global body,” he said.

Obasanjo further emphasized that the issue of slavery and slave trade in Africa was all about history, which should not be allowed to fade away.

“While the past is the past, we may not forget that past, because if we forget the past, the chances are that we may repeat the mistakes of the past. So we agreed that after this meeting, we can for a start, take our position to the AU to push for a day to be called “Africa Remembrance Day of Slavery and Slave Trade”.

The former chairman of the African Union explained further that Slavery and colonialism both have implication on the development of the continent, “as such, the new drive now, is an indication that as past leaders, God have kept us to be alive because, we still have unfinished job to complete for this continent.

“We will be shirking in our responsibility. We will not be performing our duty if we fold our arms and say, well, we have done our own, as we were former Presidents and there is nothing we can do than to sit and watch. If we do that, I wonder if God we be happy with us. I really wonder.”

On the issue of integration and monetary union in ECOWAS, Obasanjo expressed concern over the yet to be implemented single currency for the region, stressing that leaders of the region should be persuaded to so, to better the lot of trade in the area.

“It is our responsibility to call on our leaders in West Africa to come up with our one currency. They have already taken the decision in Togo, the headquarters of our region, so, what is happening? We should ask them. We should tell them that enough is enough.

“I should be able to leave Abeokuta on a Sunday, come to Cotonou and have lunch and return without any hindrance. At Idiroko this morning, I have to submit my passport for entry, but, should this be so?

“If colonialism made it so about 50 years ago, should we still continue to do it in this century and age? Obasanjo queried.

He submitted that the use of single currency “will help to trade better within ourselves. If their are others who does not want us to trade with a single currency, we should also stop trading into their hands, if they are not ready to support us in his direction.”

In his opening remarks, Soglo recalled that at the session in Japan, he was constrained to call the attention of Obasanjo to the issue of slavery, “and, I must thank President Obasanjo for joining in this cause of not forgetting our history.”

The former Beninese President who went down memory lane on history of slavery and slave trade in Africa lamented that it was unfortunate that century after the practice, some parts of the continent still engage in the inhuman trade.

Also, a former president of the country, Boni Yayi share these positions, assuring that supports would be given to actualize the dreams of the two great African leaders.

Obasanjo was joined at the session by the Deputy Chief Co-ordinator (DCC), Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL), Director, Centre for Human Security and Dialogue of the OOPL, Prof. Peter Okebukola, Dr. Olumide Ajayi, Mr. Olakunle Somorin, Otunba Fasawe and Special Assistant Media, Kehinde Akinyemi.


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