By Iyke Nwokedi, PhD
The UNIZIK Business School on Thursday, 25th November 2021 commenced a two-day Hybrid Virtual and Physical International Conference. The Conference with it’s opening ceremony held at the ASUU NAU Secretariat had the theme as “Development and Sustainability of African Economics: The Security Challenge.”
UNIZIK Vice-Chancellor, Prof. Charles Esimone, FAS, FPSN, in his address said that the theme is quite germane to the socioeconomic and political dilemmas taunting most African Countries. Prof. Esimone who was represented by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Administration), Prof. Joseph Ikechebelu stated that Africa is blessed with vast mineral and agricultural resources but sadly trapped in the so called resource curse with many African Countries remaining underdeveloped, preferring to export the primary mineral and agricultural products without value addition.
Prof. Esimone opined that African states are taunted by debilitating interminable security challenges ranging from International terrorist organizations such as Al Queda, Islamic State (IS), Islamic State for West African Province (ISWAP), Boko Haram and Al Shabaa to in-country separatist agitations and farmer-herder conflicts.
In her remarks, the Chairperson of the occasion and Dean Emeritus, Faculty of Law, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Prof. Joy Ezeilo, OON posited that the thematic focus of the UBS is timely especially in post COVID-19 era, the University Don described Security as very key in creating a balance between good economy and promoting human dignity. Ezeilo hinted that to bridge inequality, there is need for a solid partnership between the academia, government and the chamber of commerce.
Re-echoing her perception, the Co-Chairman and a member of the Governing Council of Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu University Igbariam, Prof. O.B.C Nwankwo was of the view that having a palpable security system in place is the responsibility of any government in power both at the state and national level. Prof. Nwankwo said that without adequate security the state will not attain its set goals in terms of development.
For the Director, UNIZIK Business School (UBS), Prof. Emmanuel Okoye, in his address stated that the 4th International Conference will bring about cross fertilization of ideas, in addition to demonstrating the convergence in most academic disciplines as well as how much researchers have advanced the frontiers of knowledge. The Professor of Accountancy said that the UBS is quintessentially taking it’s pride of place in the comity of Business School having leveraged on technology to have a wider reach such that she has participants from across the country and from other continents of the world such as America and Europe.
The Guest Speaker, a Professor of Human Rights Law, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University Massachusetts USA, Prof. Chidi Answelm Odinkalu said the International Conference is timely, he gave a critical look of the state of Security in Nigeria with emphasis on Anambra State before the Gubernatorial Election and moving up North-East where insecurity is a huge challenge. The Ihiala-born scholar said that Ethiopia in aggregate terms is growing exponentially at a rate of 9.8 percent for its GDP as they have tackled issues of insecurity. He was of the view that Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea are most of the endowed nations in the continent but insecurity has ensured that they have not realized their potentials.
Prof. Odinkalu stated that human capacity and wellbeing is what development is all about, he maintained that development has four variables, the marked, empire, nature and diversity. He highlighted that demographic issues as one of the factor bedeviling the growth with records showing that the population is rising at about 0.28 percent annually since 2015 way above the nation’s available resources. Odinkalu said that Section 14.2a of the 1999 Constitution as amended said that Security of the people is the primary purpose of the government and should be a legal obligation under the constitution of every country. Odinkalu disclosed that Government has neglected it’s responsibility especially in the aspect of education which is the bedrock of development. He also said that building infrastructure is important but without the right human capacity development and human resource management, the Infrastructure is of no use and will not have a lasting impact in the growth and development of the clime.
The lead Paper Presenter, Prof. C.B.N Ogbogbo defined Security as a state of being free from danger and threat which entails a sense of feeling of safety and defense against attack, protection of loved ones, building of sustainable infrastructure and organization. The Director of Research, Nigeria Army Resource Centre Abuja also pointed out that insecurity is not only about insurgence but could also be in the form of Environmental challenge, climatic challenge and food shortages. He also said that the news of an imminent ASUU industrial action for student can also be addressed as insecurity as it leaves the students unengaged and vulnerable, as well as the staff members of any institution.
Ogbogbo mirrored on conflict between Fulani Herdsmen and Farmers which has affected agriculture, a critical sector of the nation’s growth and development while also highlighting the actions of Bandits, unknown Gunmen and kidnapping which has risen to a new level. He made mention of unfair trade terms which African states has to emancipate itself from as one of the variables in moving away from being tagged as developing to developed states.
Highpoint of the occasion was presentation of a Community Service Award by the UBS to the President, CEO and Founder of Oris Group of Companies, Owelle Greg Okafor.