Sunday, 5th March 2017
President Sirleaf Chairperson of ECOWAS and the Occasion makes remarks.
Photo Credit: EXECUTIVE MANSION
Abeokuta, Nigeria: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf says the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) is an initiative in Africa that will spur strong legacy for successful, retiring President on the continent to emulate. She performed the official ribbon cutting ceremony of the Presidential Library.
According to a dispatch from the State capital Abeokuta, Nigeria, the Liberian leader was speaking at the Grand Opening of the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library and 80th Birthday celebrations where she served as Chairperson of the occasion.
President Sirleaf on behalf of the Authority and Institutions of ECOWAS and the people of Liberia, I extended to President Obasanjo - manifold felicitations for the historic event. She said it was indeed a great honor to respond to the invitation extended her to make remarks at such an occasion. She then through President Obasanjo expressed thanks and appreciation to the Executive Governor of Ogun State, His Excellency Ibikunle Amosun and his amiable wife, Mrs. Amosun, for the kind hospitality extended her delegation since their arrival in Abeokuta.
The Liberian leader said history will bear truth to such precedence-setting Presidential initiative in Africa that will spur a strong legacy for successful, retiring Presidents to emulate, to record and preserve the recorded history of nation building for posterity and for the benefit of today and future generations. She intimated that the inspiration for such an innovation has been firmly rooted elsewhere.
She recalled that it was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the 32nd President of the United States, who, in 1941 dedicated the first Presidential Library in America. She said President Roosevelt proclaimed to the world that: "The dedication of a library is in itself an act of faith; to bring together the records of the past and to house them in buildings where they will be preserved for the use of men and women in the future.”
President Sirleaf further quoted the late American leader as saying: “A Nation must believe in three things. It must believe in the past. It must believe in the future. It must, above all, believe in the capacity of its own people to learn from the past that they can gain in judgment in creating their own future."
She however alluded to the second volume of Mr. Olusegun Obasanjo’s book – in which he said he drew his inspiration from the example of U.S. President Jimmy Carter with whom he shared like values of leaving behind the record of the past for future generations. President pointed out difficulties faced in President Obasanjo’s early effort coupled with dissent but remained firm in his commitment to preserve the institutional memory of the Nigerian nation and his own personal journey.
She said through the Presidential Library Complex, we witness the extension of Roosevelt’s vision as a living testimony of Africa’s belief in itself; in the capacity to learn from the past, and thereby create a better future. She noted that by the recognition of our origins on the African Continent, we have the first archaeological recording of the first human footprints. “We are also elated that Africa’s tradition is today displayed with a kaleidoscopic manifestation of culture. We can take pride, that this is our own history; made, recorded, presented, and graphically displayed by ourselves through these structures for posterity,” President Sirleaf reasoned.
President Sirleaf observed that when the lessons therein are more than academic or events from the distant past; when history and technology meet; as elegantly displayed in the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library; history comes alive as a dynamic reality for the benefit and development of humankind - for our people, our children who will read events of history, who will live, interact, feel and even challenge the interpretation of past events.
She however thanked President Obasanjo and acknowledged the honor and glory of the Almighty God and prayed that his place continues to be a living legacy and living testimony of President Olusegun Obasanjo indefatigable accomplishments in Nigeria, Africa and the world. She extended an open invitation to African children, youth, adults, scholars everywhere and friends of Africa worldwide – to visit the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library to experience walk along the halls, to stroll down beautiful lawn, fields, view the exhibits from the life and times of a great son of Nigeria, Africa as we; as read, see, hear, feel and interact with history and culture.
In his welcome address at the event, Obasanjo noted that “the library is a culmination of fulfilment of dreams and visions which began in 1988 when I came to realize how much vital material that should have been preserved from the civil war and from our period of military government, were allowed to waste carelessly.
President Obasanjo said he was particularly honoured about the accomplishments and thanked members of the Board of Trustees for their hindsight, which contributed immensely to the realization.
He lauded donors for their cheerful donations and acknowledged the contributions of all and sundry that assisted in one way or the other in supporting the project. President Obasanjo praised foreign dignitaries and organizations for their invaluable support.
Ogun State Governor and Chief Host, Ibikunle Amosun said the ceremony marked a momentous achievement, which he said was taking place in the cradle of civilization in Nigeria. He described the occasion as an epoch-making event that will enhance the archival relevance of Nigeria.
The grand opening of the complex was graced by no fewer than 45 serving and ex-presidents across the globe, which is the first of its kind in Africa. An average of 42 million books, documents and archival materials including the former Presidents primary school uniform, shoes, military uniform, his first car and other personal belongings can be found in the building. The Obasanjo Library was launched in 2005 and is estimated at N7 billion. The commissioning on Saturday formed part of the activities lined up for the 80th birthday celebration of the former Nigerian President. Sitting Presidents in attendance were H.E. Earnest Bai Koroma of Sierra, Faure Gnassingbé of Togo. Also present were ex-Presidents John A. Kufour of Ghana, Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, Goodluck Jonathan cum Gen. Abdul Salami Abubarkar of Nigeria, among others.