African Leadership and Development Hurdles

1 Comment » June 17th, 2007 posted by // Categories: General Articles

By Adeola Aderounmu


Many people will agree that it is time for Africa to begin to seek genuine initiatives that will help to create or accelerate the development processes in many African countries. It has become highly imperative for Africa to meet up with the challenges and standards of the 21st century. How we go about this road map to achieving the due moultings that will ensure that Africa emerges at the appropriate position on the global scene will largely be a function of the leadership that steers Africa in the next decade or thereabout.


Do Africans know that the bulk of the development of Africa beyond what it is today rest majorly on their own shoulders? It has become a ridicule really to see African leaders looking up to the developed countries for salvation of the ugly situations that they have put the African continent into.  


It is very unfortunate that African leaders have used their corrupt attitudes and ineptitudes to confine the continent to a lag growth phase of perpetual comatose. Now, they are stooping and begging some unit called G-8 to help eradicate poverty, malaria, HIV-AIDS and other problems on the continent. This is part of the ridicule. It is true that slave trade was not in the interest of Africa but how have African countries charted their own courses since their self-determinations were granted? Ethiopia (from which Eritrea broke away) was not colonised: are these countries better off in terms of stability and development?


Sometimes I wonder if Africa would have been a better place assuming that snow does fall on our heads. Perhaps we would have seen the need for technological advancements and our leaders may not have had the need to squander our wealth. The people may have been more vocal and active than they are now; imagine snow falling on a Nigerian road (characterized by pot-holes) for example and no one is clearing them after 24 hours! Imagine that kind of scenario and a senator pocketing more than 53 million naira before performing any job in office. I think the situation would have been different! 


Imagine those helpless market women and men across Africa trying to sell their commodities in open markets or along the streets while the snow is falling. Imagine the policeman or LASTMA official in Lagos State taking care of traffic daily in a snow storm. With temperatures at the negative end, I think such trades and duties will be considered suicidal. If we had snow in West Africa for example, maybe there will be decent markets and supermarkets where we can shop for food and materials. If the traffic lights are sustained and power supply is constant in Nigeria, we will need policemen on the streets only for crime control and in emergency situations. Perhaps they would have gotten more time to investigate murder and corruption. Has anyone in Nigeria imagined having snow fall or winter season with lack of electricity?


The absence of snow is not an indicator for underdevelopment or third world as African countries are commonly addressed. The greatest single cause of underdevelopment in many African countries is probably lack of good governance. Africa is a continent dominated by sit-tight leaders. On the African continent, we have a system that turns ordinary men into wolves as soon as they get to the helm of power. At that point, reasoning seems to depart from these men.  We have read true life stories and we have seen for ourselves how some men have fought for the independence of their countries only to turn around and enslave their own people. From Zimbabwe to Nigeria, we see anguish and despair. We see how hopelessness has taken over the lives of people.  


Some African countries are devastated by war simply because of selfish interests, not for any moral or logic. Brothers killing brothers and neighbours eliminating neighbours in the name of tribes! There is a country in Africa that has been without any internal government for more than 10 years. Such a devastated country can ask: What difference does it make anyway? Nigeria is governed and yet more than 70% of her 140m population is confined to life time poverty. Nigeria, the role model, for more than 46 years has been a classic example of failure of governance.


African leaders and politicians are the main obstacles to growth and development in Africa. Majority of them steal money and loot public treasury. Many of them are bad managers and they have no clear vision of where they are taking the people.  Therefore it is morally wrong for Africa leaders to start looking for help from G-8 or an imaginary organisation called the International Community. The G-8 is not the solution to global problems. At least we know that the US is a major contributor to global warming and the government of the United States does not take the initiative to address the problem. Instead the US is always foot-dragging or doing nothing at all whenever suggestions are made on how to tackle global warming.


To solve the problems of Africa, African leaders must look inward and begin a soul-searching adventure for their nations. Many African countries have fertile land for agriculture; how well have they used this to promote food production and eliminate hunger from the continent? Are Africans not tired of seeing the dehumanising photographs of their babies on NGO and SOS posters worldwide? What a cheap blackmail anyway?! 


The abundance of minerals in Africa cannot be matched by any other continent in the world. How many of these natural deposits have been used for the optimum purpose? Instead African leaders are behind the concept of blood diamond, an evil act that is corroborated by the same international community and G-8 that they are running to. Are they too blind to see or too daft to reason? The only reason Wole Soyinka ran into a brick wall recently in the US congress was because the US is more concerned about the oil in the Niger Delta than the progress of Nigerians or our funny elections.


African intellectuals and craftsmen alike have continued to participate in the skilled migrant program and the visa lottery program of the developed countries. They have moved away in hundreds and thousands to continue to help the developed countries to develop further. Is it eternally impossible for Africa countries to create the enabling environment for the work force that they trained to stay put in Africa? Why can’t the Africa continent establish institutions that will match and compete with the ones that are used to lure their work force away under the disguise of research collaboration? Have African leaders not yet realized that the best brains in the world are probably from Africa but they are been utilized by the US and other fast-thinking nations?   


Why are African leaders so devilishly possessive materialistically? Why do they live in beautiful mansions and sentenced their fellow citizens to a life in slums? Why do they act like demigod? Why have most of them fail to use the resources of the continents to a good end? 


In my opinion, I think that Africans should start looking for long term solutions to their man-made problems instead of seeking aids like beggars. The earlier we realized that help will not come from outside, the better for us. The sooner we realize that external help is receiving 10 dollars with the right hand through the front door and losing 50 dollars with the left hand through the back door, the better for our own good and that of our children. 



Africans should sit down and think positively. The world has moved into the 21st century and we need to hasten and meet up. We need a critical examination of our situations and clear cut approaches to our everlasting goals. Africa with the help of needed right thinking leaders and intellectuals must move away from “too much talk” to “non-stop actions” until we reach the goals and further. Great Nations used their best brains to achieve greatness to the good of all. That is why real elections are a fundamental part of most developed countries. The masses use that democratic opportunity and their voting power to entrust their welfare and that of the state generally into the hands of the people that can deliver.


African leaders should stop depending on G-8 and International community. The continent of Africa can be great on her own, but not in isolation from the rest of the world. What about aligning the system of governance to promote fairness and the emergence of issues instead of personal ego and character and physical assaults? What about promoting fair trade for our commodities? What about the oil rich countries using their oil resources and agriculture to boost their economy and standard of living? What about putting all the potential mineral deposits in Africa into positive use and not as weapons of war? What about putting a stop to looting and then coughing out all stolen wealth and dedicate that to development reforms? Can Africa leaders stop enriching the developed countries while spreading poverty and pain on the continent?


Has anyone been following the bad leadership examples of Zimbabwe and Nigeria? Zimbabwe is a delicate issue and it seems the problem is made complicated by the influence of the British. The issue of Land Ownership and the fallouts of all the power play is a tragic occurrence in Zimbabwe. The sympathy is to the ordinary people of Zimbabwe, they are trapped between the devil and the Dead Sea.    


All over Africa including countries recuperating from the devastations of war and those eternally plagued with internal rife and bitter struggles, we should all wake up. We need one another as citizens of the same country and as Africans generally.  Our leaders should stop thinking that we cannot develop without the help of the developed countries. We need them as much as they need us to buy our goods and services on a fair trade level. We need them and other developing countries too in respect of the concept of the benefits of international trades, for multilateral co-operations and so on.   At the same time, African people must be bold to seek justice and fairness from those who misrule the continent. This is imperative to growth and development.


There may probably be no need for begging when we do our homework and stop our leaders from looting our treasuries. We may not need some famous musicians to sing into the ears of the so called G-8. Together, we can make Africa G50+ and we can make ourselves the envy of the world in no time if we define our purpose of existence with the concept of common good. The development and the future of Africa depend on what we decide and what we allow our leaders to do or not do. What we must not allow them to do is to continue to play into the deceitful and invisible hands of the international community. Our greater hope surely lies within!            




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One Response to “African Leadership and Development Hurdles”

  1. kb says:

    Very well put. It’s terribly frustrating to see the kinds of things going on in Zimbabwe, the DRC and Nigeria. The greed can sometimes be so blinding and the power so intoxicating that some African leaders can see no further than their nose. Unfortunately between the wealthy G8 countries and the kleptocratic African leaders, the people are the ones who suffer.

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