New Year Message:Africa must return power to the people as way forward
On July 26th 1847, Liberia became independent from the American Colonization Society, becoming one of the foremost African countries to be independent from any form of foreign rule. A number of African countries like Ethiopia in the East and Morocco in the North have no known history of foreign rule. Then from Liberia, other African countries achieved self-rule, such as Egypt, on February 28, 1922 (from Britain); Ghana (formerly the Gold Coast), on March 6th, 1957 (Britain); Ivory Coast, on August 7, 1958 (from France); Nigeria, on October 1st, 1960 (from Britain) etcetera.
However, about 173 years down the line, Africa is still in a bad shape, with appalling stories on all facets development indices. As at 2019, last year, African governments celebrated their ability to secure international loans as monumental achievements; thereby sticking out their heads again for re-colonization.
Second Scramble for Partition of Africa
There is currently a great deal of interest in Africa by China, the US and Russia. The reasons is largely because Africa has not been able to organize itself and harness its resources. Despite being home to largest mineral deposits in the world, Africa still depends on foreign aid for survival.
The US accused China of having undue interest in Africa. China on the other hand accused the US of wanting the whole world for itself, describing its plans for Africa as “fairly simple and transparent,”; Russia is also making inroad in Africa.
According to Ejeviome Eloho Otobo, the three big powers are deploying the traditional tools of statecraft and diplomacy. These include economic cooperation; military assistance; and technological support.
The share of each of the big powers’ arms export to Africa during the period 2013-2017, Otobo said, was China 21%; Russia 13%; and US 2.2%. Conversely, he stated, the share of arms imports by African countries from the big powers during the same period were Russia 39%; China 17%; and US 11%.
“In terms of military foot print, during 2017-2018, the United States has military bases or Lily Pads in 17 African countries; offered training assistance for 22 countries; military exercises in 12 countries; combat operations in nine countries; and air drone strikes in two countries.
By contrast, China has a military base in one country; and offered anti-piracy drilling exercises in four countries; and medical team visits to four countries. Russia also has a military facility in one country and offered in-country training to two African countries”, he noted.
What is the problem with Africa?
Several authors on the problem with Africa have pointed at leadership challenge. Everything revolves around politics and power. Like Sam Adeyemi noted, the cultivation of leaders with exceptional character and skills is critical to Africa’s development.
In addition to their inordinate ambition to remain in office forever, there is this prevailing incompetence in leadership in most African countries. This is also a reflection of the leadership culture. In the same vein, Adeyemi noted: “We’ve had different leaders with the same results for decades. The power distance that exists between leaders in government and citizens is also reflected in organizations and families. In such a structure, leaders don’t serve; they are served, because occupying leadership positions make leaders superior and unaccountable to the people they lead. Africa needs leadership development systems, and it is incumbent on development partners and global leaders to understand how cultural differences affect these”
True Democracy is the solution
Africa must emphasize democracy as the form of government that could quicken development. At several fora, Africans have yelped for a change. When they travel to Europe and America, Africans desire a change. This is expressed during elections. But in most cases, the will of the people is not midwifed in the electoral process. The biggest virtue of Democracy is that it is government by the people for the people. The government represents the views of the people who elect them and can throw them out if the government does things that the people do not like. Unlike other forms of government democracy is about the little man, everyone rather than the elite that are often disconnected from how everyone else lives their lives.