By Eric Elezuo
The main hall of the Sheraton Hotel Ikeja, Lagos was filled to capacity as prominent national and international guests including former President of Ghana, HE John Dramani Mahama, were on hand to celebrate the 7th Anniversary Lecture of Realnews Magazine, published by renowned journalist, Maureen Chigbo.
The event, which brought together government and media personalities among others, also witnessed the investiture of distinguished citizens into the Realnews Hall of Fame as well as the unveiling of a book, Pathways to Political and Economic Development of Africa.
In her welcome address, Ms Chigbo enlightened the guests on the need for the lecture, adding that equally prominent personalities had been available to present the lectures of the past six editions. She noted that they include Chairman of Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Prof. Yakubu Mahmoud; Dr. Ibn Chambers, Mrs. Oby Ezekwesili, Prof. Maurice Iwu and Prof. Charles Soludo.
In his remarks, the Chairman of the occasion and former Minister of Finance, Alhaji Mansur Muktar, who spoke on the topic, The End of Oil: Whither the Nigeria Economy, revealed that time has come when the country should really diversify into other sectors because oil is no longer holding fort in the scheme of things.
In his anniversary lecture, titled “Beyond Politics: An Economic Narrative for West Africa”, the Special Guest of Honour, who doubled as the Guest Speaker, HE John Mahama took a swipe at the various inanities taking place in the sub-region.
He condemned in totality the xenophobic attacks in South Africa, the closure of borders by the Nigerian government, low level of education, poor leadership amongst others. While he blamed South Africans for forgetting the efforts of fellow Africans in the fight against apartheid, he came hard on the Nigerian government for not strengthening its institutions, resulting in the border closure.
A panel of discussants took centre stage afterwards with a representative of the Director General, Bureau of Public Enterprise, Mr. Alex Ayoola Okoh and Chief Executive Officer, American Business Council, Mrs. Margaret Olele, participating.
Other dignitaries that attended the event were former Anambra State governor, Mr. Peter Obi, Chairman, Ovation Media Group, Chief Dele Momodu; Rev Father Ebenezer Akinduro, Mr. Bisi Kazeem representing the Federal Road Safety Commission, Mr. Maurice Achibong, representing the Police Service Commission; former Managing Director, Bank of Industry, Mr. Waheed Olagunju; Mr. Yomi Badejo-Okunsanya, Nkechi Ali-Balogun and Anambra State Commissioner for Information and Public Enlightenment, Mr. C. Don Adinuba.