Africa’s greatest obstacle to attaining the global status that befits her has been its lack of leadership. This the main drawback to the sustainable transformation that the continent deserves.
“Common sense dictates looking both ways before crossing a street, or risk being hit by a truck”. However, looking in more than one direction is too much for many African leaders – no wonder the continent experiences setbacks at every turn.
How can it be right that a continent so rich in natural resources, still fails to provide her citizens basic social amenities. As the world’s richest continent with 50% of the world’s gold, most of the world’s diamonds and chromium, 90% of the cobalt, 40% of the world’s potential hydroelectric power, 65% of the manganese, millions of acres of untilled farmland, and other natural resources including crude oil, it’s outrageous that Africa is the home of the most impoverished and abused people in the world.
A Japanese diplomat once told me that he wished Africans could swap continents with East Asians. He claimed in fewer than four years the continent would be unrecognisable.
This strikes a chord, as African leadership needs a paradigm shift on a massive scale, based on a shared purpose and global perspective. It is time to end this self-centred leadership style driven by greed, obsession, intimidation and oppression with massive corruptions issues and ethnic under tones which have resulted to so much bloodshed through inter-tribal wars and ethnic cleansing pitching one community or tribe against another.
In Nigeria, we have seen kinsmen, family members and relatives of the President become shareholders overnight in major multi-nationals in the country with no qualifications, no business experience; a clear sign of corruption and nepotism – despite his protestations of the opposite.
Intimidating anyone who dares to criticize the regime, and even destroying the lives of peaceful agitators like my people in south eastern Nigeria, who are asking for the right to go their own way and be called Biafrans, because it is obvious that the Nigerian project is not working for everyone.
Many of us have been killed or constantly intimidated, our means of livelihood and businesses destroyed, while others, actual terrorists, – that suit government purposes – Boko Haram and Fulani herdsmen are shielded, despite committing serious killings and carrying out ethnic and religious cleansing.
A lot of communities have been sacked and renamed while the real owners are displaced. The security apparatus infiltrated by sympathisers, that is why they are hardly caught. To paraphrase one top general in the military – any Boko Haram member has the right to become the Nigerian President of Nigeria one day.
We have reached unprecedented heights of insecurity across the country with thousands killed in the past year, mostly from Christian communities attacked by herdsmen and Boko Haram terrorists. However, instead of fixing the problem created by their policies and deliberate actions, the Nigerian leadership always try and shift the blame by denouncing “foreign influence or interference”.
To paraphrase Nkrumah, the independence of one country in the continent is meaningless unless the rest of Africa is free from bad leadership.
Our rise as a continent is long overdue and Africa deserves better. 2020 must be the beginning of a new dawn, let’s build our continent with selfless and visionary leadership. It is not too much to ask, for the sake of our children, that the efforts of great African freedom and independence fighters will forever live on, let’s not destroy all they sacrificed and laid down their lives for.
Nelson Mandela, Julius Nyerere, Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta, Kenneth Kaunda, Patrice Lumumba, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, and many more. Where are the Donald Trumps of Africa that will drive the Africa first agenda, and a continental self- reliant government for the people and not for selfish interest?