African youths studying at Pan African University, Life and Earth Sciences Institute (PAULESI), Ibadan, on Wednesday called for collaboration to end all conflicts in Africa and emergence of peace to ensure development on the continent.
They made the call at an event to commemorate the 2020 African Union Day with the theme, ‘Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions For Africa’s Development’.
Many African countries are faced with myriad of conflicts, including jihadi insurgencies in the Lake Chad and Sahel regions as well as East Africa.
There are also religious and ethnic conflicts over struggles for the control of resources, which have resulted ethnic and religious militias in many countries on the continent with hundreds of thousands killed and others displaced from their homes.
In most of the cases, children have been victims by either being used to prosecute wars as with the case of Boko Haram in Northeast Nigeria, which deploys them as suicide bomberd, killed or displaced and denied opportunity to have education.
Against the background of such conflicts, some of the students spoke with HumAngle and shared their thoughts on the theme of the celebration and he future of the continent.
Samuel Ocheje, a student of PAULESI, who is also a student representative, said:
“Generally, Africa’s development has been hampered by so many wars, fighting here and there and terrorism activities
“Using Nigeria as an example, there are insurgents disturbing the northrastern part of Nigeria which has led to destruction and disrupt development in that region.
“Today, we are saying as Africans, we have to silence the guns, we have to drop the guns, we have to come together in unity to build this continent.
“Africa is blessed with a lot of natural resources, human resources and everything we can think of to make the continent the best.
“Africa, we have to come together, we have to see the potential in us, we have to see the potential to build this continent and to make it the best continent ever.”
Another student, Christopher Ifechuwku, said, “to harness African resources to build the continent, first we need to aim for unity.
Then we can establish peace to be able to work together as one and this is one thing that is yet to be well facilitated in African Union countries.
“Our hope today is that we will be able to silence the guns where war is ravaging and be able to unite ourselves and build a country of the future, which is Africa.”
Tanni Bih from Cameroon said, “our thoughts on AU Day is to be looking for different ways through which Africa can be united in order to put an end to security crises and to bring about peace,” she said.
Tanni added that the continent must bring “different ways with which we can collaborate with ourselves and also internationally in order to empower ourselves, the African youths, and bring peace to Africa and our development.”
The Director of PAULESI, Ibadan, Prof. Esther Akinlabi, speaking on the theme, explained that the celebration was an opportunity to reflect on the union’s transformation and achievements.
She said it was a chance to “renew our commitments as Africans to realise the “Africa we want” as embedded in Agenda 2063.
“While this is a commitment to achieve the Aspirations of Africa’s Agenda 2063, specifically Aspiration 4, which envisions a peaceful and secure Africa, thereby making peace a reality for the African people.
“The whole world is today gruelling with the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic which is an invisible gun that has infected over 27 million people and killed over 883 000 people.
“In Africa, we have seen over a million cases with over 30,000 deaths, my thoughts are with families that have lost their loved ones and friends in the pandemic.
“Together, let us continue to unite as we fight this common enemy. Let us continue to do our best by adhering to the COVID-19 protocols of wearing of masks, social/physical distancing and washing of hands.
“It is for this reason that PAULESI distributed face masks, over a thousand, to the general public as one of our social responsibilities to our community as we commemorate the day,” Akinlabi said.