Samuel Obukwelu, Sr., a New-York based Retired United Nations Staff, admonishes Africans, in the spirit of the season, to praise themselves.
As a new entrant into this forum, I must first of all applaud Prof. Toyin Falola for creating this atmosphere of healthy discussions ( not a debate). Secondly, all the contributors have shown their burning desire to see Africa reach a developed stage. To all of them, I say "kudos".
According to Mr. Zulfikar Aliyu Adamu:
"From the moment a cyber columnist decides to punch one's keyboard with letters that spell words of one's opinion; he stands the risk of exposing his intellectual innards. But then, it is usually hard to disguise the true contents of ones mind when using the English alphabets and diction. So when one sends an article to....there are the multiple dangers of being misunderstood, disbelieved or insulted. I therefore approach this article with full knowledge of its potential consequences. However, the fact that you the reader are able to browse the worldwide web, and read articles such as this one; says a lot. At least, there is that latent possibility that we may just understand or appreciate each other for contributing solutions to the national question. The objective of any writer is obviously to be 'heard or - to be read; no matter how (thought)-provoking one's ideas may be. And whether we realize it or not, web portals have provided a hundred and twenty million Nigerians with the opportunity to do what our leaders have been unable to achieve for 44 years: dialogue. A round of applause is hence in order......"
With the above at the back of our minds, let us, therefore, not try to tear ourselves apart. Let us be easy on ourselves, please. There is no single person who has a monopoly of knowledge of how to solve all the Africa's problems, and they are multifarious. It is all well and dandy for us in diaspora [the privileged?] to stay in air conditioned or well-heated houses or apartments, where all the goodies of life are at our beck and, expect to solve Africa's problems in absentia. There is no African that has gone through the institution of higher learning who does not understand our problems. We can stay here and write all we can, but who will do the 'walking'? I can see that the essence of so much proliferation of writings on African development, especially from Africans in diaspora, is to assure posterity that we offered pieces of advice which were not heeded by the leaders. Yes, for record purposes only. The problem is that most of us are morally weak. The saying is, "If you cannot beat them, then join them." How many of us in Diaspora, involved in this discussion, want to go back to our countries to fight for upholding the rule of law, even at the risk of losing our lives? Even if some of us do go home and effect a change in the administration of our countries, how many of us can be Nelson Mandela, an iconic leader and worldwide symbol of forgiveness and the triumph of the human spirit in the struggle for freedom? Africa is dire need of people like Nelson Mandela, Wole Soyinka, Francis Rix Ames, Kudirat Abiola, Samira Bellil, Lionel Bernstein, Henry Masuko Blaisius, Fela Ransome-Kuti, Freda Levson, Thami Layele, etc.
This brings me to the main problem confronting African countries- GOOD GOVERNANCE. When the administrators, both at the national, state or local government levels are hell-bent on emptying the government treasury and, officially transfer the funds to their accounts in banking institutions in the West, there can never be any development in any African country. And the West will always look the other way, because they know the enormous benefit such transfers have on their economy. The Western nations will never get tired of giving loans to African countries, especially Sub-Saharan countries, because they [ The Westerners] know that the loaned funds will be stolen by the leaders of the recipient countries and, remitted to their accounts in banking institutions in the West. Good governance is the bulwark for any development! When the leader of a country looks the other way when his ministers and top government functionaries are looting the treasury, how can there be development? When the leader is completely alienated from the ruled, how can there be development? Let me repeat myself. There can never be any reasonable development in any sub-Saharan African country because the foundation for its take off, which is good governance, is non-existent. As we say in my place, you have to find the floor on which you will sleep, before you start looking for a mat to put on the floor.
WORLD BANK, at the recent launching of its report titled, 'Building State Capacity in Africa: New Approaches, Emerging Lessons' states, inter alia:
"It is now generally agreed that poor governance and corruption are major factors that undermine a country's
economic and social progress. Corruption not only stifles economic growth in society as a whole but also tends to affect the poor disproportionately by increasing the price for public services and restricting poor people's access to essential services such as water, education and health care."
Whether ten percent of African countries will reach a reasonable level of development in this century is anybody's guess. Come on guys, let us see how we can institute good governance in African countries before we talk of development, otherwise, our efforts will be an exercise in futility. I believe, as some of you do, that the horse comes before the cart.