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African leaders converge on Benin, discuss pathways to functional education on the continent

12 Jun 2024

L-R: Nigeria's Minister of Education, Tahir Mamman; Former Vice President, Namadi Sambo; former Vice President of Zambia, Dr. Nevers-Sekwila Mumba; former President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi; Edo State Governor, Mr. Godwin Obaseki; former Nigeria’s President, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan; former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, and former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, during the 2024 Democracy Day Dialogue, organized by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, in Benin City, on Thursday, June 13, 2024.

… make case for Obaseki’s transformative reforms

… ‘African countries not making enough progress because leaders take instruction from Western countries’

African leaders, Thursday, converged on Benin City, the capital of Edo State, for the 2024 Democracy Day Dialogue, to discuss pertinent issues undermining functional education on the continent and propose solutions that will engender growth and development.

The event, which was held at the Victor Uwaifo Creative Hub and Soundstage, Airport Road, Benin City, was organized by the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation, a policy think-tank set up by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2015.

Guests at the event include Nigeria's Minister of Education, Mamman Tahir; former Vice President, Namadi Sambo; former President of Benin Republic, Boni Yayi; former President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, former Vice President of Zambia, Dr. Nevers-Sekwila Mumba; Deputy Governors of Bauchi and Bayelsa States, and other dignitaries from across Africa.

Opening the proceedings, Governor Godwin Obaseki said Africa is at a crossroads and that the continent is blessed with a population of young people hungry for success.

He noted that the theme: Functional Education and Effective Political Leadership as a Panacea to Africa’s Growth and Development is apt because it captures the essence of moving ahead and places responsibility at the feet of political leaders in the African continent.

He said: “I welcome you all to this great gathering which serves as a platform where African and local leaders have gathered to have an honest conversation on democracy and the undeniable role of education in fostering growth and development in Africa.”

Obaseki commended the former President for his actions in keeping Nigeria united following his rare decision to concede defeat after the 2015 general election.


“The leadership ability you showed at the critical moment in our democracy saved the nation as your actions have kept us as a united nation. If not for your decision and actions, we would not have the opportunity to celebrate Democracy Day. You will forever be praised in the annals of Nigeria’s history, as your actions demonstrate the vision of your Foundation.

“As African leaders, we are responsible for making the decision that will enable the youths to play their parts in developing Africa. The future is for Africa as the decision we make will not only affect the African continent but the world at large.

On the State’s education reforms, he said: “People are coming to Edo State to understudy our educational reforms. Our efforts brought us to the attention of the world. We are now placed amongst countries recognized for education reforms.

Former President Jonathan thanked the Edo State Government for accepting to host the Foundation as the event coincided with the State’s Education Week, adding, “I thank the keynote speakers for opening the eyes of African leaders, showing them the way to improve and develop the continent. I urge you to meet with leaders in the education sector across the country to discuss the paper.”

“I urge our leaders to put in their best in improving our educational system for the benefit of African children.”

Nigeria’s Minister of Education, Mamman Tahir, in his goodwill message, commended Governor Obaseki for working hard in making Edo an accelerator State for education reforms.

He noted that the figure of out-of-school children in Nigeria remains a challenge, but that the Federal Government has succeeded in returning 2 million children back to school.

Former presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr. Peter Obi, thanked the former President Jonathan for the sacrifice he made in keeping Nigeria united, as no other leader in Nigeria has beaten his record.

According to him: “Free and fair election is all Nigeria needs to correct the errors facing Nigeria as a nation.”


He said education remains the most fundamental ingredient needed to keep Nigeria on the path of development.

The Keynote Speaker and Chairman of the University Council at Cavendish University, Uganda, Prof. Olubayi Olubayi called on African leaders to ensure that all African children are educated.

He added that Africa is not making enough progress because the leaders do what other countries tell them to do, noting: “If Africa is to make any progress, what we must do is not what other countries tell us to do.

“As much as you educate all African children, you must set up special schools for the most gifted and talented children. If African countries are to rise, all villages, cities, towns, and local governments must have at least one special school for gifted and talented kids.”

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