Lingering economic crisis, insecurity, famine and the rise in number of coup d’etats in Africa are fallout of poor quality of political leadership across the continent, stakeholders have warned.
Speaking at the just concluded 2023 School of Politics, Policy and Governance (SPPG)Graduation in Abuja, the stakeholders who are Africa’s thought leaders, called for unity and reawakening of political consciousness among Africans to fix Africa’s leadership crisis.
The speakers at the event include SPPG Convener and Nigeria’s former Minster for Education, Dr. Obiageli Ezekwesili, Kenyan-based activist, Boniface Mwangi; Tunisian activist, speaker and diplomat, Aya Chebbi; Accomplished Lawyer from Kenya, Martha Karua; Zimbabwean politician and one of the top leaders of the Citizens Coalition for Change political party, Gift ‘Ostallos’ Siziba and Senior Programme Officer and Acting Deputy Director, Mac-Arthur Foundation, Africa office, Amina Salihu.
Others are a Parliamentarian from Zimbabwe, Joanah Mamombe, a Chartered Accountant from Sierra Leone, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr, Political Scientist from Senegal, Marieme Cisse; Transformation strategist from Nigeria, Alero Ayida-Otobo, among others.
The event themed: “Renaissance Africa: The Era of Citizens shaping new Leadership Model for Good Governance” , saw the graduation of over 100 SPPG students.
Participants described the event as a great opportunity Africans have been waiting for to help in building a new model and pipeline of public leadership to reverse acute governance failure and leadership gaps in the continent.
Ezekwesili, charged Africans to participate fully in politics and lend their voices to matters that affect their future.
She disclosed the Africa still contended with bad leaders despite millions of talented people in the continent, adding that the trend must be reversed.
“We want an Africa that is governed by persons of character, competence and capacity that will transform nations. We are tired of bad leadership and the frequency with which that comes in. The conversation within and outside on the reason Africa is behind all other nations throws up a really big challenge,” she stated.
“We cannot simply accept the idea of poor leadership in the public management of our continent. So, SPPG has worked to bring interconnectedness that also mirrors where Africa is going. It, thus, matters that citizens make effort to change things that are unacceptable. A continent with enough pool of talents has done incredible things, both within and outside.”
According to her, speakers at the event showed that Africa is not lacking is individuals that can lead the continent to propensity and stability.
“Africa has chosen the path of democracy, and if we look at historical numbers, more countries that have enjoyed prosperity have come through the democratic path. So, democracy is very important because it comes with political freedom. With political freedom, comes rule of law which is the cornerstone of economic freedom. Economic freedom leads to proliferation of ideas, innovation and creativity. With democracy, the two most important economic agenda for countries is solved faster and better.”
Continuing, Ezekwesili, said: “Competitiveness and productivity are all based on empirical data. So, if we know all those things, we cannot then sit back and hope that somehow change will come. If Africans want to transform their politics and just sit back, hoping that those, who have entrenched poor governance as political culture, will someday fall in the kind of Apostle Paul and have a Damascus experience, we will wait forever. That is not something that this generation should do.”
Mwangi, urged African leaders to purge themselves of colonial mentality and look inwards. He said, “Africa’s biggest problem is its leadership and we have to fix that. Driving from Abuja Airport to the hotel, I saw very magnificent buildings; they were neither schools nor residences, but churches. There lies our problem. We focus a lot on religion and we need to fix that”.
“Our leaders have copied the white man’s ways. When the white man colonised our continent, he took our lands, minerals, everything. When we kicked them out, we took the bad habits. Our continent, our land used to be communal, but we have become very western in our ideals. So, we have 10 billionaires and a billion poor in Africa. That needs to be fixed.”
Young people, he asserted, needed to take over power. But that is when Africans stop spending more time praying than politicking, thus making politics their way of life because politics is the reason unemployment, insecurity and poor healthcare abound.
“The biggest mistake the young people have made in this continent is to serve the old people of yesteryears. So, we need to think how to have, across Africa, a pan-African movement to fix our leadership because if we don’t fix our leadership, we will be doomed. The people we have in power are neocolonial stooges; they work for the white man. The money stolen in our continent goes abroad,” he said.
In her submission, Karua assured that the hopes of Africans must be restored. She said, “We need to restore hope in our people. Our culture in Africa is respect, oneness and love. We are now lost people. We are neither Africans not outsiders.
“If you love Africa, you will not wage war against your people. Even your people will rebel against you. I think this is a good place to start. We need to reflect on the things we will do. One finger cannot kill a fly. We are here to create a political miracle to solve the problems of Africa. We need a revolution. I do not mean a coup. There is a civilian revolution.”