Former Nigerian President, Olusegun Obasanjo, has cautioned the international community to never again allow any other tragedy like the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi to take root anywhere in the world.
He was addressing the international conference on genocide on Thursday taking place at the Intare Conference Arena in Kigali, ahead of the 25th commemoration of 1994 Genocide on Sunday.
“Never again should the international community allow such a tragedy to take root anywhere in the world without immediate intervention in the interest of humanity. The lessons of Rwanda have served as useful motivation for international action,” he said.
Obasanjo indicated that Africa has particularly remained more vigilant since the Rwandan crisis, but that the lessons of the tragedy in Rwanda must not be lost on Rwanda.
“Of course, this conference is an indication that it is not lost,” he noted.
This year on Sunday Rwanda will be marking for the twenty-fifth time the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in which more than a million people were systemically killed.
The conference is part of the many activities that lead up to the anniversary.
“We all regret for what happened 25 years ago but immediately proud of Rwanda’s achievement and all Africa must learn the right lessons from Rwanda – the management of our diversities to avoid Rwanda type of tragedy,” Obasanjo said.
Rwanda’s transition from a dysfunctional state to stability and security, he added, illustrates how much the world should value the role of strong leadership and that a continued transition of this cycle through prosperity highlights the importance of strong institutions which offer policy competitiveness and reassure the right for local and international investors.
“This cycle must be completed with the ability to effectively, sustainably and productively manage diversities for which democratic governance is critical,” he urged the more than 500 participants.
The former Head of State opined that indeed prosperity and management of diversities go together in inclusive and shared societies and that this is precisely what good governance is about.
According to him, good governance and development are equally intertwined.
“I have learnt from experience that social factors, notably politics and rules that govern it are key to development. The more democratic the systems of governance are across Africa generally, the better the development record,” he noted.
“This is not surprising since competitive politics usually translates into a competition of ideas in the political marketplace and very health to economy, if also underpinned with robust institutions for rule of law, human rights, judiciary and electoral process,” he added.
Obasanjo also highlighted that government does not exist only to provide common goods of education, infrastructure, health and economic opportunities just as development ultimately cannot be measured in GDP figures alone but also in terms of welfare, wellbeing, availability of choices and fundamental freedoms.
“A key lesson from Ethiopia’s recent reforms is indeed that you cannot do growth alone rather there is a need to address the democratic deficit to development, while inclusion of all ethnic groups is necessary,” he noted.
The first day of the forum focused on the perspectives of a post-genocide generation. Delegates discussed the realities of a generational shift in society that has experienced genocide, looking at the lessons, challenges, and threats.
Dr. Jean Damascene Bizimana, the Executive Secretary of the National Commission for the Genocide against the Tutsi (CNLG) mentioned a list of intellectuals who masterminded the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi.
Among other renowned perpetrators, he mentioned propagandist Leo Mugesera, Jean Kambanda, and Ferdinand Ndahimana, as well as ministers of the then regime who had completed their academics at prestigious universities.
“Out of 33 ministers, 15 were prosecuted and nine of them were convicted with crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity. Most of these ministers were well trained public officials at some of the best universities and in Rwanda,” he noted.
This, he added, is an indication that intellectuals are normally at the centre of some of the worst decisions that politicians can take.
“This is why it is very important to have such a global conference to highlight the role that they played and what can be done to have a generation of intellectuals that stand for the truth,” he said.