A.B. Assensoh agrees that we need to begin discussions (see No. 101) that border on solutions, including a suggestion for "rotational" leadership in the context of African integration!
Early in the summer of this year, I listened to an intriguing panel discussion (seminar) on Africa's problems and the needed solutions at the Africa Center on King Street (not far from Trafalgar Square) London. Two of the five speakers repeatedly mentioned that, comparatively, the West Africa sub-region seems to have more problems than any part of Africa. A member of the audience retorted promptly and sharply, "Why?" The two panelists concluded, in unison, that part of the problem was that West African nationals study too much, and that they also acquire too many academic degrees but, in the end, with very limited practical experiences. "I know several young men and women from Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone, who have two undergraduate degrees, three master's degrees and, sometimes, two or three doctoral degrees each. They are all confused Africans who propund only foreign theories," a speaker said.
As I sat down thinking deeply about the eba, egusi plus softly-cooked cow foot soup and jollof rice that I would be enjoying aggressively after the panel discussion, I also wondered if there is anything called "too much education." After all, I often hear the axiomatic or wise expression that whoever thinks that acquiring quality higher education is expensive, that person must try ignorance and see its exhorbitant price! "Ignorance, coupled with little education, is like a person jumping into the middle of the ocean without knowing how to swim in the smallest river," some old men and women would often say.
With the foregoing introductory remarks aside, I also agree unlimitedly with both Professor Udogu (Ike) about the issue of offering concerte solutions, and Dr. Akinyeye (Yomi) in terms of integration in Africa. It is odten a sheer intellectual joy to read some of the published pieces authored by Ike and Yomi, especially Yomi and Professor Asante (S.K.B.) when it comes to the issue of integration in Africa. Looking at suggestive solutions in the context of integration, for example, a slim but very important book that integrationists in Africa should read is Anthony A. Akinola's Rotational Presidency. The 79-page book, published by Spectrum Books Limited of Ibadan, Nigeria, offers some concrete examples or suggestions about how "rotational leadership" (albeit "presidency") would make politics (and at the continental level, integration) attractive.
After all, we know from the plitics of the 1960s that some of the post-colonial African leaders harped loudly on the clarion call for continental unity. Yet, they were allegedly behind some of the horrible assassinations (death of Sylvanus Olympio of Togo, for example) as well as the formented coups d'etat of the era. In fact, Nigeria's Alhaji Tafawa Balewa and then Tanzainia President Julius K. Nyerere (strange?) were, to an extent, so disturbed by the continental politics of Nkrumah, Modibo Keita, Sekou Toure and other radical leaders that they called for "transparency" in the actions of the radical group (of the so-called "Cassablanca Powers"). It was, therefore, not surprising that after the first Nigerian coup, the late President Nkrumah jumped on Ghana radio and, in a noon broadcast, underscored, inter alia, that "Alhaji Balewa had died a victim of forces he would never understand..." The enemity seemed to stem from the unwillingness of several leaders of Africa, at the time, to surrender the sovereinty of their respective countries to accommodate unity. Interestingly, Nkrumah said loudly in May 1963 (during the founding of the defunct OAU) that he and his countrymen (Ghanaians) were ready to surrender Ghana's sovereinty and, also, for the capital of the new, united Africa (if attained) to be established in Bangui or anywhere other than his own Accra, etc. Therefore, for integration to succeed at a continental level, I urge our scholars and political leaders to pay attention to the subject of "rotational leadership," which can effectively be described as "consensus leadership" type of governance, as prescribed by Oxford-based Akinola.
Looking at Ike's Amenized contribution (No. 101), it is imperative that all of our suggested solutions should be collated and harnessed to be shared with African leaders, who have no access to what Ike correctly calls these "smashing contributions" of the USA/Africa Dialogue forum. Thi is,also, why we should allow the submissions to be edited and compiled into publishable annual volumes because (1) the discussions are both serious and useful; and (2) also because it is very unique that many African scholars and friends of Africa, with varied backgrounds, would come together in scholarly discussions and, still, we have not as yet had mudslingings, accusations and verbal battles or battles and canons sof the pen! Thanks to the astute scholarly-cum-intellectual leadership of Toyin! If we are able to send published copies of our discussions to African laders and their advisors, I too will say "Amen" to whatever we suggest as solutions, just as Ike wisely and astutely suggests! What say felow Afro-Optimists and Afro-Pessimists? Have a pleasant morning!