The leadership that guarantees political, social, and economic prosperity across Africa is possible. The Africa that can hold its head high and walk tall, potentially standing head and shoulders above other continents within the global economy is what every well-meaning breed of Africa relishes. In other words, the Africa we want and dream of can only be achieved through the right leadership.
Regrettably, there has been a dearth of quality leadership across Africa and the continent has gone under the radar in recent years for its seemingly slow growth rate. For instance, when placed side by side developing Asian and South American economies like India and Brazil respectively, there is a crystal-clear growth imbalance between the economies of these two countries and those obtainable in Africa. The imbalance is because economic and growth indices have scored African countries low. This, to a large extent, is due to leadership misfortune throughout the continent.
Investigating its cause, some experts indicted colonial countries for not prioritizing developing the continent. The effect is that the independence of emergent African countries lacked needed depth and couldn’t attain sustainable development. Also, many emergent African leaders continued with the exploitative socio-political and economic arrangements they inherited at independence – a case of neo-colonialism. This became the precursor of the leadership crisis African countries experience today.
The process through which African leaders emerge in office also causes leadership problems. Such processes are mostly marred by irregularities and imposition of leaders lacking ideologies, vision, and selflessness. There is no gainsaying, therefore, that Africa desperately needs good leadership to surmount its governance challenges in other to assume its role and pride of place in the global continent.
But who is a good leader?
A good leader has the people’s interest at heart; is ready to eschew corruption and place the interest of the people above personal interests. Such a person possesses a clear vision and the ability to develop roadmaps and blueprints aimed at achieving developmental strides for their countries.
Good leadership for Africa will inspire stability and peace. Since no meaningful development can happen in an atmosphere without peace, African countries, especially those ravaged by war and post-election violence desperately need good leaders to unite warring parties; to promote inclusion and eradicate hatred between ethnic diversities for sustainable developments to occur.
But despite the odds, Africa has witnessed outstanding leaders. Nelson Mandela for instance is a good leader and a model of leadership for Africa we want. Cape Verde’s Pedro Pires and Mozambique’s Joaquim Chissano have also been exemplary due to the positive transformation they brought to their countries.
On the flip side, Africa has also witnessed unpopular leaders who tried assuming power to themselves for life via a sit-tight syndrome in office. Cases in hand include former Sudan’s President, Omar Al-Bashir who won numerous elections under widespread irregularities after he ousted a democratically elected government through a coup. Another example is former Algeria’s president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika who at age 82, sought a fifth term in office before he succumbed to the military. Also, Cote D’ivore’s Felix Houphouet-Boigny and Cameroun’s Paul Biya had been president for over three decades with the former later dying in office.
Even when some of these leaders were elected through a democratic process, they manipulate either the judiciary, the legislature, or the constitution to enable them to remain in power. Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo had tried to manipulate the constitution to seek a third term before the senate rose to the occasion to abort his ambition. The same couldn’t be said of Rwanda’s Paul Kagame and Angola’s Eduardo dos Santos who successfully subverted the constitution to keep them in office. Yet, instances abound where some leaders are forced out by revolts like that of the Arab springs that hit North Africa.
Truly, the tragic events caging Africa’s all-around emancipation bears witness to a paucity of good leadership and Africa may never realize its global potential if nothing urgently is done. The way forward, therefore, is for African countries to get their leadership right.
To do this, the continent must start building effective institutions to nurture visionary and pan-African leaders. Such institutions will prepare potential leaders with the experience and tools needed for development to thrive in their domains.
Also, there should be a genuine stakeholders’ call for electoral reforms aimed at building an electoral system that works across Africa. The bulk of the leadership problems we have in Africa all have their roots in flawed electoral processes which in turn produce flawed leadership.
In another development, AGENDA 2063, a strategic framework for repositioning Africa into becoming a dominant global arena player over the next years should be an important precursor for determining the leadership for the Africa we want.
Meanwhile, this leadership should be able to integrate developmental agendas with current global realities like the Covid-19 pandemic. They must not shy away from initiatives aimed at encouraging local production of vaccine doses within the continent. In light of this, the leadership of the African Union (AU) through the Diaspora Division can grow its mandate to support this initiative.
Africa no doubt is blessed with diaspora citizens who have played and are playing leading roles in the production of available Covid-19 vaccines in the global market. African leaders must also learn to exploit Africa’s leading role in the area of alternative medicine to grow this initiative.
Summarily, the burden of true leadership for Africa comes with the mandate to promote accelerated socio-economic and political growth of the continent. Such leadership also comes with investing in the people, which to a great extent will grow effective followership for the needed sustainable development across the continent to occur. When this happens, we can then be proud to say we have achieved the leadership for the Africa we want. Is it possible? Yes, it is. Thank you.
Chukwuemeka Oluka is a graduate of Electronic and Computer Engineering from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka. He is a passionate writer and a research enthusiast. He writes in from Enugu and can be reached via “email@example.com”