Africa and the Dynamics of Growth By Olusegun Obasanjo
In many African countries, the unions may not be too powerful but the political and bureaucratic class are so corrupt that the government is unable to muster the necessary moral courage to push through any policy that may cause any inconvenience to the middle class, no matter how temporary or beneficial the policy may be in the long run. In the case of Nigeria, there seems to be an obnoxious solidarity among the middle class that allows the manipulation of available democratic institutions against the enforcement of anti-corruption laws. The poor enforcement of anti-corruption laws in turn makes the citizenry less enthusiastic to act positively on any call by the government to sacrifice.
A writer on leadership in Africa has categorized leadership into three. The independence leaders who had to confront the colonialists in the most appropriate way in each case to wrench independence. They had challenges and as human beings they made their mistakes but they achieved the first liberation. The second category of Mobutu, Bokassa, Idi Amin, Abacha, to mention a few, made a second liberation necessary. The new breed, as the writer called them, gave us the second liberation leading to democracy, rule of law, and away from brutal and insensitive military dictatorship, one party rule and sit-tight and life presidents. The third liberation will also be a continuation of the efforts of the new breed leaders calvanising the people – all the people in popular participation in political, economic and social sectors.
Such leaders with exemplary qualities will initiate policies that will benefit the people, lead to good governance politically and economically, integration and cooperation, peace, security, stability, growth, development, employment and wealth creation and will continue to lift Africa up and make our continent the continent of the 21st century. This is the third liberation. The process has begun. It must be continued. The new breed leaders must remain the force commanders making majority of us, if not all of us, committed foot-soldiers of high morale. This war must be won.
The alternative is irredeemable poverty and a meaningless independence from colonialism and militarism. To fight this war requires an educated society that knows the difference between issues that touch on the economy of the state and issues that touch on the mundane, such as ethnic affinity of the political aspirant.
Fortunately, there is yet no superior intellectual alternative to the ideology of democracy. The African citizenry must therefore not relent from striving through the exercise of their democratic rights to entrench courageous, growth oriented leaders in the place of the current indolent parasitic class of political leaders. The latter is a clog in the wheel of progress in the effort to eradicate poverty in Africa.
The current generation of Africans has no excuse to continue to put up with non-performing leaders. To avoid the bold choice of leaders, who can lead their country into economic prosperity, is a deliberate choice of poverty by the people. There is no magic in economic growth and development, they have to be worked for and this takes hard work, sacrifice, hard choices and above all, a selfless and visionary leadership. It is absolutely impossible for any country to achieve growth with employment, when the management of her national resources is relegated to provincial and primordial interest
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