Good afternoon

Most distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, please permit me to adopt the already established protocol.

I am delighted to welcome you all to this all-significant conference organized by the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy, Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, (ABUAD) Nigeria.  On behalf of our Founder, Chancellor, President of our Institution, Ambassador Aare Bamofin Emmanuel Afe Babalola and his amiable wife, Yeye Aare Modupe Babalola, the Management, Staff, and Students of Afe Babalola University, I welcome our eminent speakers, participants and well-wishers to this Virtual Conference.

In a special way, I warmly welcome our Lead Paper Presenter, Prof. Philip Cotton, the Vice-Chancellor, University of Rwanda.  I thank you eminent Vice-Chancellor, for honoring our invitation, and for accepting to speak on this vital topic that borders on the future of education in Africa amid the voice of the vicious COVID-19 pandemic.  The COVID-19 pandemic has altered education programs/academic calendars, students, prospective students, their parents, educators, young and old, rich and poor, and every sector of human endeavor.  

We are now making fundamental changes struggling to adapt to the “new normal.”  What does the future hold for us in Africa?  We would be glad to tap from your wealth of knowledge, experience and scholarship.  Let me also use this opportunity to thank you (Prof. Cotton), a good friend of ABUAD, for the warm reception given to our students when they visited your Institution in September 2019 during their academic field trip.  

I welcome also our distinguished diplomats and prominent academics who are here to address various current issues bordering international relations in a COVID-19 altered world. Most heartedly I welcome;

Ambassador Abdul Bin Rimdpa – former Ambassador of Nigeria to Germany*

Prof. Nuhu Yaqub – Former Vice-Chancellor University of Abuja and Sokoto State University

Professor Okechukwu Ukaga- the Executive Director of Northeast Minnesota Sustainable Development Partnership, University of Minnesota, United States

Ambassador Humphrey Orjiakor – Former Permanent Representative of Nigeria to the United Nations Office and other International Organisations at Geneva (2011-2015) and Former Ambassador of Nigeria to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein

Colonel (Dr.) Wilson Ijide - Retired Colonel of the Nigerian Army and Lecturer at the Department of Psychology, Faculty of the Social Sciences & lecturer at the Institute for Peace and Strategic Studies, University of Ibadan      

To all our participants/attendees I say a sincere welcome

“COVID-19 Pandemic and the Future of International Relations is the theme of the a  two-day Conference” 

You must agree with me that this is not only topical but most importantly of global significance.  Today, the whole world grapples with a violent and invisible enemy, called the COVID-19.  When the coronavirus (COVID-19) broke out in Wuhan, China, in November 2019, nobody, not even the World Health Organization (WHO), knew how far-reaching and devastating it would be.  But within a couple of months of the outbreak of the pandemic, it has spread with furious rapidity, throwing the entire world into chaos, confusion and panic. It has rendered the wise foolish and the powerful powerless.  The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruptions in the global economy, strained the healthcare system, disordered the educational system, and caused social anxiety and disorder.  

Our lives shall never be the same. We shall have to learn how to live with Covid-19, unfortunately. We are all called upon for sober reflection to refocus our intentionality and aspirations for a better world with more humane people. The COVID-19 pandemic is shaping up a new world order also altering international relations in weighty ways.  Indeed, there are myriad of issues that the COVID-19 pandemic has thrown up, some of which, our renowned scholars and diplomats would be addressing today. They shall also provide an excellent opportunity for intellectual discourse for participants. I urge you to take maximum benefit of this richly packaged Virtual Conference

I must commend the brilliant, dynamic Dr ADAORA OSONDU –OTI and her formidable team of the Department of International Relations and Diplomacy for putting together this stirring program. Worthy of commendation is also The Director of ABUAD ICT, Dr Bayo Ogundipe.  It is my earnest hope that the discourse shall produce robust and stimulating dialogue and proffer solutions to some of the debilitating global issues today. 

Once again, I thank you all for your contributions, participation and the interest to make our planet a better place to live in.

While looking forward to future collaborations with you I once again wish you most fruitful deliberations.

Prof. E. Smaranda Olarinde, FCArb., FCAI 

Ag Vice Chancellor, Afe Babalola University (ABUAD)