Professor E. Ike Udogu, committed political scientist, calls for solutions to our collective problems
I have been rather reluctant to come back to this important forum simply because you have all touched on some to the daunting issues confronting our motherland. I have also been reluctant to jump in because my views are likely to be tautological not only to the contributions so far but also because you have all in your journal articles and books articulated these views. In any case, I cannot help but say Amen to dialogue No. 99. Our development and modernization crises flow from the poor and unpatriotic leadership that, with a few exceptions, have emerged in that continent. Our collective and collaborative efforts should and must be directed to changing the attitude of these leaders.
So far, we have had about 100 smashing contributions. Perhaps, we have gotten to the point at which we as a group) must start proffering meaningful solutions and backing them up with whatever means necessary. I have been sharing some of your thoughts as to how we could exculpate our continent from its current underdevelopment with my students in the Politics of the Developing Nations. And, I am sure that I am not the only one attempting to explain the perplexities of our situation with their students. In fact, on Thursday, one of my Rwandese students posed the question: Could you, members of the African intelligentsia and other professionals in Africa and the diaspora, solve our problems through this dialogue (or is this another of your attempts at intellectual self-purgation and catharsis)? Having seen such bubbling enthusiasms (even among ardent pan-Africanists) to solve Africa's problems rise and fall in the past, I was very cautious in my response. I said, in the tradition of the Chinese, "that a thousand miles journey begins with the first step and thereafter one step after another." I attempted to convince this student and others in the class that this time, unlike in the past, these members of the informed public are serious-deadly serious and that they have therefore taken the first step. This was so because the issues that we are tackling are so important that our failure to resolve the social, political and economic problems might be judged unkindly by future generations principally because at this juncture of our development, we cannot say to them that we lack talented African professionals and natural resources that can move the continent to greater heights.
What, then, must be done in the new millennium?
… We must see this century as one in which we should reclaim the continent economically, politically, educationally, et cetera for Africa-and thereby moving, acting and going beyond rhetoric.
… We should not sit and wait for Europeans and North Americans to tackle our problems-or provide the blueprints with which to solve our problems. We understand the terrain best-have the natural resources and professionals that can provide the leadership for African development.
… Work collectively and collaboratively to bring pressure to bear on our corrupt politicians and entrepreneurs to see the futility of robbing Africa of its wealth at the expense of over 80 percent of its population-an attitude that runs against our fundamental culture of communalism.
… Our approach should eschew ideological chasms (particularly Afro-pessimism and Afro-optimism)-these isms are important theoretically but unlikely to feed our populations, construct excellent infrastructure, etc.
… Insist on the implementation of constructive plans produced by Africans for solving African problems. One such plan may be that produced by Nigerian professionals in the US and the diaspora at the Atlanta conference with President Olusegun Obasanjo.
These are just the beginning for I am aware that you have much better and far-reaching solutions to the political and economic crises in Africa. The key, I hope this time, is that our possible solutions to Africa's problems are not going to "fall on deaf ears" simply because our leaders are too "stubborn" and unwilling to put the interest of their country and the continent first before their parochial interest.
It is my hope that the first half this century will not end up like the last half of the 20th century. Here is an opportunity for us through this rich dialogue and action to change things-not just to talk about them. Indeed, I would like to argue that you have no choice since the mantle of leadership and change is in your own hands. In all, please remember the African adage: "The wise learn from the mistakes of others."