H.E. Goodluck Jonathan, President (2010-2015) Nigeria
President Goodluck Jonathan is a renowned Nigerian politician who served as Vice President of the country from 2007 to 2010, and as President from 2010 to 2015. During his tenure as President, he worked tirelessly to strengthen the capacity of ECOWAS to respond to several challenges and personally led efforts that resolved the political crises in Côte d’lvoire, Niger, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin and Togo. He founded the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) with a vision to strengthening democratic governance, consolidating peace and stability as well as promoting prosperity through youth empowerment in Africa. He is currently the Chair of the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP).
I thank the Universal Peace Federation, UPF, for putting together this conference.
Let me also appreciate Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon (Mother Moon), co-founder of the Universal Peace federation, UPF/ ISCP, who has been outstanding in her pursuit of global peace and understanding.
I also thank Dr. Thomas G. Walsh, the UPF International Chairman, the staff of both UPF and the International Summit Council for Peace, ISCP, for their efforts towards promoting peace across the world.
I am delighted that we are all here to share our thoughts on issues of a great significance to all of us. There is no better time than now to look at ‘opportunities in time of global crisis’, given the enormity of the effect of Covid-19 pandemic on the entire world.
There was indeed initial confusion as a result of the spread of the Coronavirus disease and its attendant deaths because of its novel nature.
However, countries gradually took their time to work out local solutions to a disease that neither has a known cure nor vaccine yet.
Nevertheless, many months after the outbreak of the disease, which has so far left the world with about 28.2 million cases, 19 million recoveries and over 900, 000 deaths as of today, the inherent opportunities and hopes are not far-fetched.
But before going into some of the opportunities and hopes that this global crisis has offered the world, it is important to highlight some values that became manifest during this Covid-19 period and the need for leaderships at different levels to maintain and further develop them, post-crisis.
In that way, the human race could experience a new life, going forward. Here are some of the values:
*SACRIFICE: In practically all parts of the world, the first thing that was common to many countries was the willingness of people, generally, to make sacrifices in the fight against the disease.
These included the frontline health workers, many of whom lost their lives in the struggle to save others.
The message of hope from this gesture could not have been lost on anyone and must not be left at the Covid-19 station.
*SOLIDARITY: In what was not common in a fast degenerating world, the extent of solidarity displayed amongst the people of the world, especially of different colors, race and creed, was humbling.
Despite the fact that the first wave of the disease was in its most active stage, people extended love to one another, offering all manners of help – from food items to hygiene kits, medical equipment and of course, as well as education on how to stay safe by observing the safety protocols.
In the quest for a new world, that model should be embraced for good.
*CAPACITY FOR ORGANISATION: In many rare moments, people across the world showed impressive capacity for organizational skills, in the manner that items were moved from house to house and camp to camp, just to survive the ugly phase of Covid-19.
This is an experience that can be borrowed and put into our everyday lives as we move into post Covid-19.
*CREATIVE SOLUTIONS: Dealing with a rather deadly disease with no known drugs or vaccine was not child’s play.
Interestingly, some of the figures that have not been accounted for fall in the category of those who fought and defeated the disease on their own and from their homes. Although the number of those who died at home, especially here in Africa is not known, the majority actually survived without visiting hospitals.
Also, many people devised all manners of gadgets and equipment suitable for combating viruses and bacteria in general, particularly for disinfecting the environment. Besides, hotels, restaurants, places of worship, gyms and recreational centers amongst others, have also come up with home-made solutions on how to manage crowds and keep people safe. This speaks to the capacity of people to rise to any challenge. It offers hope.
IDENTIFYING OPPORTUNITIES: This is one of the most instructive fallouts of the Covid-19 pandemic. Many people used the period to discover opportunities, that either increased their finances or skills set.
Indeed, online solutions were largely discovered to some of the everyday practices that hitherto seemed unbending. People are now hold virtual meetings, Zoom parties are the in-thing everywhere, while many new online jobs have also come on stream.
It is also true that the outbreak of the virus and the period of fighting it have taught countries about the need to review trade relations and focus more on local production, with less dependency on imports. Survival is contingent more on such a choice.
Although nations, especially here in Africa, should begin to look inwards for local solutions, there is still the need for improved relations and closer economic cooperation between Africa and Europe.
A situation where commodity producers in Africa continue to find it difficult to export produce because of stringent quality control conditions from their European trade partners is neither sustainable nor mutually beneficial.
A good way of redressing this is for European manufacturers to set up cottage industries in Africa to process raw materials at least to a level that they would fit into the value chain for European producers. This way, African nations would strengthen their economies and provide more jobs for their teeming youth bulge.
When African economies develop reasonable level of stability and prosperity, it would enable them to manage crises better.
The most important, however, is the need for all countries to up their medical game. It is true that more deaths were recorded in some of the most medically advanced countries.
But it also exposed the challenge of countries with poorer medical facilities, thereby necessitating the need to review the state of the hospitals, upgrade them, build new ones and discourage medical tourism in general.
In the final analysis, the passing of some of our loved ones remains painful and, in most cases, avoidable. This is why the lessons from the Covid-19 experience cannot be wished away, certainly, not with its attendant opportunities and the hopes for a better tomorrow that are offered.
Africa, and the world should, therefore, rise from their complacent corners and embrace the challenge, hope and opportunity of a new start that Covid-19 has offered. They should do that with a collective resolve that never again shall the world get caught unprepared for any eventuality.